LONDON: Arsenal overcame the absence of Bukayo Saka to move back to the top of the Premier League table with victory over struggling Luton at Emirates Stadium.

But, in their wake, champions Manchester City maintained their pursuit with a Phil Foden hat-trick inspiring victory over Aston Villa.

Arsenal missed top scorer Saka was missing after suffering a knock against Manchester City at the weekend, but Mikel Arteta’s much-changed side did enough to rout their hard-working opponents and move back above Liverpool at the summit.

Captain Martin Odegaard fired the hosts into the lead in the 24th minute after Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu was bundled off the ball by Emile Smith Rowe, before the Gunners doubled their advantage shortly before half-time.

Japan defender Daiki Hashioka inadvertently put past his own keeper Thomas Kaminski in the 44th minute while trying to stop Reiss Nelson after Smith Rowe was afforded too much space in the penalty area.

Arsenal thus moved on to 68 points – one point clear of Liverpool, who play bottom-of-the-table Sheffield United at Anfield on Thursday.

England forward Foden struck a hat-trick as Manchester City continued to apply pressure to Arsenal and Liverpool with a commanding win over Aston Villa.

Manager Pep Guardiola left key men Erling Haaland and Kevin de Bruyne on the bench after Sunday’s drab draw with Arsenal, but the reigning champions still had too much for injury-hit Villa, who also lost goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez to illness just before kick-off.

In their absence, Foden produced a masterclass to take his tally to 21 goals this season. But it was Rodri who struck first for City after 11 minutes when he swept home Jeremy Doku’s cross at the near post.

Villa were dangerous on the break and drew level nine minutes later when Jhon Duran beat Stefan Ortega with a low finish after a neat exchange with Morgan Rogers.

It was then that Foden took charge, restoring City’s lead with a low 20-yard free-kick on the stroke of half-time, although Villa’s Nicolo Zaniolo played his part by turning his back in the wall.

Foden extended City’s lead after 62 minutes when he fired low past Villa’s deputy keeper Robin Olsen after good work by Rodri, then claimed his treble in style seven minutes later with a fine drive into the top corner from the edge of the area.

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