Premier League leaders have used up most of their lives but it is too early to write off their quest to outlast Manchester City

Amid the sense of disbelief and frustration that Arsenal had snatched a second straight draw from the jaws of victory at West Ham, Granit Xhaka was on hand to add a dose of pragmatism. “If something is not going well, it is easy to show the finger to someone else,” he said of their faltering title push. “We took this challenge up until now and nobody was thinking about this before the season. Let’s refresh everything now.”

The path towards an extraordinary achievement has narrowed considerably and the annoyance for Mikel Arteta will be that it did not have to be this way. There was a moment not long before they let West Ham back into proceedings when the silence around London Stadium verged on eerie: Arsenal were passing their way towards a victory of consummate ease and, in hindsight, perhaps they were lulled by the occasion’s near-total lack of edge. Neither their hosts nor those in the stands were evincing genuine belief that the afternoon might turn on its head.

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