Manchester City opened up a four-point lead in the Premier League title race by thrashing Watford 5-1 and Arsenal seized the initiative in the battle for fourth spot on Saturday.
Brazilian Gabriel Jesus scored four goals as City applied pressure on chasing Liverpool ahead of their Merseyside derby on Sunday against struggling Everton.
Watford, meanwhile, suffered a fourth successive league defeat as their hopes of staying up receded.
Arsenal followed up their midweek win at Chelsea with a 3-1 home defeat of Manchester United to move into fourth place, ahead of Tottenham Hotspur who could only draw 0-0 away to Brentford in the day’s late kickoff.
Nuno Tavares struck early for Arsenal with Bukayo Saka doubling their lead from the penalty spot.
A sluggish United finally woke up with Cristiano Ronaldo sweeping in Nemanja Matic’s cross and they squandered a chance to level when Bruno Fernandes hit the post from the penalty spot before Granit Xhaka made sure of the points for the hosts with a 70th-minute thunderbolt.
“It’s a big performance in a game that had everything. We created chances, we had to suffer, there were moments when we lacked energy and they were on top, we were efficient in the boxes, we had luck,” Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta said.
“This is going to be a rollercoaster — today it went in our favour.”
The win took Arsenal into fourth spot, two points above Tottenham Hotspur who were lacklustre in a stalemate at Brentford for whom Ivan Toney was twice denied by the woodwork.
Sixth-placed Manchester United, who announced earlier this week that Erik ten Hag would become their new manager, suffered a fourth successive away defeat in the league and their chances of qualifying for the Champions League are dwindling.
“For me even before the game it wasn’t very likely, but after today’s result it’s gone, yes,” interim boss Ralf Rangnick, who faces a tough task in his final four games, said.
The title race is predicted to go right down to the wire and Man City made sure they retained the slight edge as they swept Watford aside at The Etihad Stadium.
Jesus struck twice in the opening 24 minutes to put City in control but Watford briefly threatened to make a game of it as French defender Hassane Kamara halved the deficit.
A stunning strike from Spain international Rodri restored City’s two-goal advantage in the 34th minute before Jesus completed his first Premier League hat-trick early in the second half after converting from the penalty spot.
The 25-year-old tapped home his fourth in the 53rd minute from Kevin De Bruyne’s pass to complete the rout and City took their foot off the gas ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League semi-final first-leg against Real Madrid.
City have 80 points from 33 matches with Liverpool on 76 having played a game less. Watford are in 19th place, seven points from the safety zone.
“We have one month of the season to go, we need players like Gabriel,” City manager Pep Guardiola said.
Time is running out for bottom club Norwich City who look destined for a quick return to the second-tier Championship after a 3-0 home defeat by in-form Newcastle United.
Newcastle’s Brazilian contingent fired Eddie Howe’s side up to ninth place with Joelinton scoring a brace and Bruno Guimaraes also on target at Carrow Road.
While Newcastle are on the up and up, Norwich are now eight points from safety with five matches left to play.