Arsenal head into the World Cup break five points clear at the top of the Premier League after they beat Wolves 2-0 on Saturday as Manchester City suffered a shock 2-1 home defeat to Brentford.
Newcastle remain in third after inflicting Chelsea’s third consecutive league defeat 1-0 at St. James’ Park, while Tottenham scored twice in the final 10 minutes to win a 4-3 thriller against Leeds.
City had not lost at the Etihad since February, but were stunned by Ivan Toney’s response to being left out of England’s World Cup squad.
The Brentford captain headed in his 10th goal of the season to give the Bees an early lead, but City responded before half-time thanks to Phil Foden’s sumptuous strike.
Pep Guardiola warned ahead of the game that his side might have one eye on the World Cup with 10 of the City starting XI heading to Qatar.
A lacklustre City performance was punished in the eighth minute of time added on when Brentford cut open Guardiola’s men on the counter-attack and Toney tapped in Josh Dasilva’s cross.
“The better team won,” conceded Guardiola. “We had a lot of problems and we could not press as they didn’t allow us.”
Thomas Frank hailed the result as perhaps Brentford’s best ever as they moved up to 10th in the Premier League.
“Speaking to some people from the club, this is probably the single biggest ever result,” said Frank. “Against one of the richest clubs in the world and we have one of the lowest budgets in the division.”
Arsenal took full advantage to set up an intriguing title battle when the Premier League returns from a six-week hiatus on Boxing Day.
Martin Odegaard led by example for the Gunners as the Norwegian fired home twice from close range in the second half.
New Wolves boss Julen Lopetegui was in the crowd before officially taking charge on Monday and has work to do in the second half of the season with Wanderers now bottom of the table