So who is going to win the Premier League this season? Surely: Manchester City! They always do. Well, not always, but they have done so for the past three seasons and this year they are attempting to become the first team to be English champions in four successive seasons. Huddersfield and Arsenal both completed a hat-trick of titles before World War II. Liverpool did it in the 1980s. Under Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United managed the trick twice since the old First Division became the Premier League in 1993. City have won five of the last six and they are on the verge of history.

In fact Arsenal are top of the league with three matches to play, but City are just one point behind and they have four matches left. (Poor Huddersfield, incidentally, will on Saturday complete the formalities of being relegated to a division two levels below the top flight.) Yesterday both City and Arsenal won, the former grinding out a 2-0 win at beleaguered Nottingham Forest a couple of hours or so after Arsenal had survived a dramatic North London derby against Tottenham Hotspur. (The photo on the home page shows the scene at the Emirates Stadium last Tuesday night after Arsenal had demolished Chelsea by 5-0.)

Son scores with the perfect penalty kick to consign Arsenal to close to 10 minutes of agony before they were able to celebrate victory over their local rivals yesterday

Arsenal were 3-0 up after 40 minutes at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium thanks to an own goal, a breakaway by Bukayo Saka and a header from Kai Havertz – all this despite the hosts seeming to have more periods in control. Micky van de Ven had what would have been an equaliser for 1-1 ruled out after an offside call that was an illustrative definition of the word ‘marginal’. Still trailing 3-0 after 63 minutes, Spurs were let back into the game after a rush of blood by the Gunners’ goalkeeper, David Raya, gifted a goal to Christian Romero. When Declan Rice kicked Ben Davies rather than the ball in the 85th minute, the consequent penalty was dispatched with panache by Son Heung-min.

The great Dutch forward, Johan Cruyff, had a great phrase: ‘The clock is never your friend.’ This was such an example. For Arsenal the next 10 minutes took way too long; for Tottenham time just flew by. By the time it had been completed, Arsenal had held on for the win and the three points. When the dust had settled Spurs had won the second half by 2-0, had enjoyed 62% possession, had expected goals of 2.37 to Arsenal’s 1.08, and had had 14 shots to Arsenal’s nine. But the most accurate stat was for shots on target: Tottenham 2, Arsenal 3 – exactly what the ‘real’ score was.

This season Arsenal have scored more goals than anyone else, they have conceded fewer than anyone else, and they have had a win and a draw in their two meetings with City. But the odds – generally 4-11 City, 9-4 Arsenal – are that still won’t be enough to claim their first title for 20 years.