Man City’s 4-4 draw with Chelsea leaves door open for title rivals with two points separating the top four… free-scoring Liverpool and Spurs face the champions next – so can Arsenal take advantage with their run-in?
- Chelsea and Man City played out a thrilling 4-4 draw on Sunday afternoon
- Man City top the table but their nearest rivals have been given encouragement
- It’s a three-team title race… Toney could lead Arsenal to glory: It’s All Kicking Off
Chelsea and Manchester City ensured the Premier League signed off for the international break in style with dramatic 4-4 draw at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
The result keeps Man City at the top of the Premier League as Pep Guardiola’s side seek a fourth consecutive title.
Cole Palmer’s stoppage time penalty against his former club gave a sense that Chelsea are on the up under Mauricio Pochettino following their 4-1 win over Tottenham at the start of the week.
However, Palmer’s strike may also have been greeted by cheers by Man City’s closest challengers, with the draw preventing the defending champions from going three points clear at the summit.
Liverpool and Arsenal are just a point shy of their Treble winners with almost a third of the season having been played, while Tottenham are two points off the leaders despite suffering successive defeats.
Mail Sport takes a look at whether the title race has been opened up with City having company at the top of the table.
Man City led three times against Chelsea but eventually were forced to settle for a point
Pep Guardiola’s side were denied victory after conceding a late penalty at Stamford Bridge
Ex-Man City star Cole Palmer’s late spot kick means the top four are separated by two points
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Sunday’s result remarkably was the first time in Guardiola’s 882 matches as a manager that one of his teams have scored and conceded four goals in the same game.
It also marked only the fifth time Man City have shipped four goals in a Premier League match since he took charge.
Leicester managed the feat in both 2016 and 2020, while Everton and Liverpool also put four past Man City in 2017 and 2018 respectively. The draw with Chelsea was notable for Man City’s lack of control, with the expectation the Citizens would take charge after taking the lead.
They had the opportunity to do so on three occasions, only for Chelsea to level the match again.
Thiago Silva’s first half leveller and Palmer’s late penalty had come just minutes after City had taken the lead, reflecting their inability to take the sting out of the game at Stamford Bridge. Neither the introductions of Jack Grealish or Mateo Kovacic in the second half were able to calm proceedings.
Guardiola played down suggestions his team were at fault for failing to leave Stamford Bridge with all three points, as he pointed to Chelsea’s spending in the transfer market for building a fantastic team and insisted Pochettino’s side should be given ‘credit’.
However, the City manager did concede his team had not managed the game perfectly in moments.
‘What they [Chelsea] have done in the market is to do this. They will be there this season and for sure in future seasons because they are built for that,’ Guardiola said post-match.
Pep Guardiola’s side showed vulnerability after conceding four times against Chelsea on Sunday in a thrilling 4-4 draw
Man City were uncharacteristically unable to retain control of the match against Chelsea
‘If you expect everyone to come here and win 0-7 then you are wrong. Do you know what Chelsea have done (to build this team)? In the past it was City, City, City who have done that.
‘Look at what Chelsea have done to create that fantastic team? So it’s normal. I couldn’t have expected a different type of game, but we were close and maybe we didn’t manage perfectly in some moments – but it’s football.
‘Always I give credit to the opponent. They played really good. Everyone wants to beat us because you know what happened in the past is a lot.’
While the City boss played down the result in public, he may privately have more concerns to ponder over the international break.
Man City’s next five games
- Liverpool (H)
- Tottenham (H)
- Aston Villa (A)
- Luton (H)
- Crystal Palace (H)
City have shown fallibility in two big away matches this season, with an underwhelming showing in their loss against Arsenal a marked contrast to when they claimed vital wins over the Gunners last season to stamp their authority on the title race.
Guardiola will certainly hope to have Kevin De Bruyne back in the squad with the midfielder having been absent since August. The Belgian star is still a few weeks off returning to full training.
He also has defensive headaches with John Stones and now Nathan Ake absent through injury.
The obvious plus side for City is that they are already top of the table at this early stage of the season, having been known for their late surges in recent campaigns.
The next three Premier League fixtures could provide a test with second placed Liverpool, Tottenham and high-flying Aston Villa coming up ahead of the busy Christmas period.
All three sides will take encouragement from the success Chelsea had in attacking Man City and will be looking to replicate their blueprint in the coming games.
Could a Manchester City and Liverpool title race be back on the cards? Jurgen Klopp’s side are currently City’s nearest challengers, albeit Liverpool are only above Arsenal on goal difference.
The Reds would move to the top of the table should they beat Man City at the Etihad when the Premier League resumes after the international break with a Saturday lunchtime kick-off – much to Jurgen Klopp’s annoyance.
Former Liverpool centre back Jamie Carragher, while naming Man City as title favourites, believes the experience of Klopp in the title race should give them hope they can challenge again for the title.
‘Why shouldn’t Liverpool go to Man City and believe they are in this title race,’ Carragher said on Sky Sports.
‘They are the one team who have really pushed Man City over these last few years. It is a new Liverpool team but they could still be Man City’s biggest challengers because they’ve got players and a manager who has been there before.’
Liverpool certainly appear ahead of schedule having completed an overhaul of their midfield in the summer, with Dominik Szoboszlai in particular starring since arriving from RB Leipzig for £60m.
Liverpool look in fine form under Jurgen Klopp ahead of their trip to face Man City this month
Mohammed Salah’s impressive form and a rebuilt midfield are major boosts for Liverpool
Liverpool’s next five games
Man City (A)
Sheffield United (A)
Crystal Palace (A)
Man United (H)
Supporters will also be keen to highlight how their only defeat of the Premier League season came in hugely controversial circumstances against Tottenham, when that Luis Diaz goal was wrongly ruled out.
Liverpool’s showing with nine-men in the match should a resilience they lacked last season, also highlighted by a memorable away win with 10-men against Newcastle in August.
With Mohammed Salah flying and depth in the Darwin Nunez, Diogo Jota, Cody Gakpo and Diaz, there is no question that Klopp’s side have the firepower to mount a challenge.
Liverpool have won all six of their home matches this season, but their away form will be a test of their credentials.
Having been beaten eight times on the road last season, a positive result at the Etihad could highlight their capability of challenging for the title this time around.
Recent slip-ups against Brighton and Luton have suggested there still could be some bumps on the road, which typically teams cannot afford when chasing Man City.
The Gunners saw their surprise title challenge suffer a late season collapse last season, after a campaign which rightfully saw Mikel Arteta’s team receive plaudits.
A rise in expectations have led to Arsenal’s start to this season feeling somewhat underplayed, perhaps due to the spotlight shining on their North London rivals Tottenham early on.
There has been a view that Arsenal’s performances have not been as eye-catching as last season but results are what matters.
Arteta’s side have ticked off a series of major tests so far this season, including notably ending their Man City hoodoo with Gabriel Martinelli’s deflected strike giving them a 1-0 win in October.
Mikel Arteta’s side have enjoyed a strong start to back up their claim to be title contenders
Arsenal have shown resilience and come through several major tests so far this season
Arsenal’s next five games
- Brentford (A)
- Wolves (H)
- Luton (A)
- Aston Villa (A)
- Brighton (H)
Arsenal have also seen off Manchester United at home and have drawn twice against Tottenham and Chelsea, impressively battling back from 2-0 down in the latter.
The defeat at Newcastle that left Arteta raging at the officials is their only defeat their season, with Arsenal well placed 12 games in.
Having played several of their closest rivals already, the fixture list heading into the New Year could offer Arsenal the chance to rack up some points and potentially move to the top of the table.
Brentford, Wolves and Luton will provide tests in their next three matches.
The Gunners should be aiming to take maximum points ahead of a testing away trip to Aston Villa, where their former manager Unai Emery has turned Villa Park into a fortress with 13 consecutive Premier League home wins.
The trip to the Midlands and a pre-Christmas trip to Anfield on December 23 are the stand out fixtures over the next two months.
Spurs had been setting the pace heading into the last international break, with their impressive start to the season reflected by Ange Postecoglou’s receiving three consecutive manager of the month awards.
James Maddison had admitted the last international break had come at an ‘annoying time’ after Spurs went top of the table in October. The situation could not be more different now.
Tottenham will have to lick their wounds in more ways than one over this break, after their unbeaten start came to a shuddering halt with a 4-1 defeat against Chelsea on Monday, before the late collapse to a 2-1 loss at Wolves.
The Chelsea defeat already looks like it could be a landmark result in Tottenham’s season, with the injuries sustained by Maddison and Micky van de Ven ruling two of their key players out until the New Year.
Tottenham have suffered a nightmare week with successive defeats and a growing injury list
The loss of Micky van de Ven and James Maddison have dented Tottenham’s impressive start
Tottenham’s next five games
- Aston Villa (H)
- Man City (A)
- West Ham (H)
- Newcastle (H)
- Nottingham Forest (A)
Defeat at Wolves exposed the lack of depth beyond Postecoglou’s starting eleven, with the loss of Maddison reducing their creativity and a central defensive partnership of Eric Dier and Ben Davies looking far from secure.
If Spurs are to mount an unlikely title bid, Postecoglou will need to nurse his side through to January when they can start to welcome back star names and potentially add much needed depth in the transfer window.
That task looks easier said than done, with Aston Villa and Manchester City their next opponents when the Premier League returns.
Defeat against Aston Villa would see Spurs drop below their opponents and out of the Champions League places, just a matter of weeks after topping the table.
A derby against West Ham and Newcastle should provide two further tests, before a trip to the City Ground to face Nottingham Forest.
A title challenge appeared a faint prospect even if Tottenham had their full starting eleven fit, but with injuries a scrap for the top four looks their likeliest direction of their season.
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