Manchester City – Premier League champions-elect in the eyes of many – now know they are in a real scrap after Liverpool leapfrogged them to the top of the table on a telling day in the title race.
Both sides started Saturday unbeaten after 15 matches with an impressive 25 wins between them – but it was Pep Guardiola’s champion who blinked first.
Mohamed Salah scored a hat-trick for Jurgen Klopp’s side as they romped to a 4-0 win at Bournemouth in the early kick-off, taking them to 42 points, one clear of City.
The city had the tougher task of taking on Chelsea at Stamford Bridge later in the day and despite later in the day and despite dominating the first half they ended up losing 2-0 – their first league defeat since April. The city remains firm favorites to win their second consecutive title but their aura of invincibility has been shaken and a hungry Liverpool are not in the mood to back off.
Guardiola took pride in his team’s performance despite the defeat, saying he never felt they were going to match the Arsenal Invincibles, who went through an entire Premier League season unbeaten in 2003-04. “We are going to try to be champions,” he said. “In a season like this, with a lot of games -plus after last season – everybody wants to beat us. They put in something extra.
“What is important is how we react. Even if we would have won today, it’s still only the beginning of December. There are still a lot of points to play for.” For all of City’s much-vaunted squad depth, they sorely missed the injured Sergio Aguero at Stamford Bridge, mustering 14 shots but managing just four on target.
Kevin De Bruyne – last season’s club player of the year- has barely featured during this campaign because of injury and although City have an enviable supply of creative players, it is difficult to replace a player of that standard.
Liverpool are also showing the resilience of would be champions. Klopp said: “The thing is that we just really want to be as successful as possible. Nobody knows what that means, nobody.”
(Kante 45, Luiz 78)
Manchester City 0
(Son 45+1, Alli 58)
West Ham 3
(Snodgrass 48, Hernandez 62, Anderson 65)
Crystal Palace 2
(McArthur 6, Schupp 76)
From Online Sources