Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey

Real closes the gap, Arsenal tops the Premiership

Arsenal has the will, the manager and the flair to win the Premiership, the huge question being whether Arsene Wenger's bosses have the resolve to give him strength in depth to keep the ball rolling in the second half of the season. In Spain, a goal from defender Pepe puts Real Madrid within striking distance of the leaders.

Premiership (After 21 matches)

Arsenal show their true mettle, battling for a 2-1 away victory at Aston Villa (Wilshere, 34; Giroud, 35) in a weekend which saw first Chelsea (2-0 at Hull) then Manchester City (2-0 at Newcastle United) claim the top spot. Arsenal leads on 47, City has 47 and Chelsea 46 points.

 La Liga (After 19 matches)

Pepe gave Real Madrid the three points at Espanyol, Atlético and Barcelona drew nil apiece in Madrid, meaning Real (47 points) have closed the gap to a three-point deficit on 47, behind leaders Barça and Atlético (50).

Bundesliga (After 17 matches)

FC Bayern Munchen lead on 44 points with 16 games. Bayer Leverkusen is second with 37 points from 17 games and VfL Borussia Moenchengladbach is third on 33 points (17 games). The next round starts on January 24.

Serie A (After 19 matches)

Juventus (52 points and 4-1 winner at Cagliari) seems to be running away with the Italian Serie A, eight points clear of AS Roma (44), 4-0 winner over Genoa, and in turn two ahead of SSC Napoli (42), 3-0 winner at Verona.

 Ligue 1 (After 19 matches)

PSG won 2-1 at Ajaccio, Eduardo giving the home side the lead on 6 minutes, while Lavezzi (41) and Matuidi (74) turned the result around. Monaco drew 1-1 at Montpellier and Lille lost 2-1 at home to Reims. Paris Saint-Germain leads with 47 points, AS Monaco FC has 42 and LOSC Lille, 40 points.

 Primeira Liga (After 15 matches)

A change at the top of the Portuguese Primeira Liga, with Benfica winning at home 2-0 over FC Porto, and Sporting CP drawing 0-0 at Estoril. SL Benfica leads with 36 points, one ahead of Sporting (34) and three ahead of FC Porto (33).

 Russian Premier League (After 19 matches)

The Russian Premier is hot, hot, hot. Zenit recovered with a 2-1 win over Ural and is equal first (40 points) with Lokomotiv (drawless home game with Rubin). Spartak Moskva is third with 39 points (1-0 winner at Rostov).  Dinamo Moskva (35) beat Amkar 2-0 in Moscow, while CSKA (34) lost 1-0 at Krasnodar. The championship resumes in March.

Fenerbahçe leads the Turkish league increasing the gap to eight points (41) over Galatasaray AS after 17 games.

In Armenia FC Ararat leads, 8 points clear, with 30 points from 14 games. The Championship resumes in March; in Azerbaijan, Qarabag leads with 36 points from 18 games, one ahead of Qäbälä. The championship resumes at the end of January; in Belarus after 32 games, BATE Borisov is the Champion. In Kazakhstan, FC Aktobe is champion.

In Ukraine after 18 games, the top spot belongs to Shakhtar Donetsk (41 points), five points ahead of Dynamo Kyiv. Metalist Kharkiv (36) and Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk (35) follow in third and fourth place, both with a game in hand. The championship resumes in March.

Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey