Man City stumble gives Spurs, Chelsea hope of Premier League title fight
Manchester City’s first defeat of the season has given the rest of the Premier League hope that the title race is not a foregone conclusion as Tottenham and Chelsea seek to close at the top of the table on Wednesday.
The arrival of rampaging forward Erling Haaland to supplement Pep Guardiola’s squad, which has won the English top flight four times in the past five years, made City even stronger favourites to win the league again.
However, a rejuvenated Arsenal have opened up a four-point gap at the top of the table, while Spurs have kept pace with the defending champions.
Arsenal and City were supposed to be facing off this midweek in a top-of-the-table clash.
But that match has been postponed due to rescheduling caused by the death of Queen Elizabeth II last month, with the Gunners instead facing PSV Eindhoven in the Europa League.
With the top two not in action, Tottenham could move to within a point of the summit if they win at Manchester United on Wednesday.
Spurs have not won a league title for 61 years but have, in Antonio Conte, a manager who has won the league at each of his previous three clubs — Juventus, Chelsea and Inter Milan.
“We are showing stability,” said Conte. “I always say, to play against us is not easy.
“We have to continue to work and improve but we are a team, and I consider us really strong. If we are good to improve and continue to grow in other aspects, not only tactical but also to show this maturity, then we’ll have great satisfaction.”
The strength in depth of Tottenham’s squad is being fully tested by injuries to Dejan Kulusevski and Richarlison in forward areas.
But Harry Kane is carrying the burden, with the England captain scoring nine goals in 10 league games to stay on the coattails of Haaland in the race for the Golden Boot.
– Potter works his magic –
Chelsea looked to have blown their title chances with two defeats in their opening five league games under Thomas Tuchel.
But Graham Potter, who replaced the German as a manager in September, has masterminded a turnaround in results for the Blues, with five consecutive wins in all competitions putting them back on track in both the Premier League and Champions League.
Chelsea has a game in hand on the top three and victory at Brentford would lift them just two points behind City.
Potter has brought the best out of Kepa Arrizabalaga, who is performing to a level expected of the world’s most expensive goalkeeper and keeping Edouard Mendy out of the side.
“Kepa found a fantastic level, he made brilliant saves which kept us in the game,” said Potter after the Spaniard shone in Sunday’s 2-0 win at Aston Villa.
“He is contributing to us with clean sheets, how we are trying to play and the environment around the place.”
– Liverpool lift-off? –
Liverpool has been the side carrying the fight to City over the past five years and looked more like their old selves in defeating the champions 1-0 at a frenzied Anfield on Sunday.
The Reds still have a mountain to climb to get back in the title race, with just three wins under their belts in their opening nine games.
And they cannot afford a hangover from their exploits against City when they host West Ham on Wednesday.
“We were obviously brilliant but we need consistency,” said Liverpool defender Andy Robertson.
“It’s important, it’s such a big win for us against an unbelievable team that put us under so much pressure. But it’s only a massive three points if we use it to our advantage.”
Fixtures (all times GMT)
Brighton v Nottingham Forest (1830), Crystal Palace v Wolves (1915)
Bournemouth v Southampton, Brentford v Chelsea, Liverpool v West Ham, Newcastle v Everton (all 1830), Manchester United v Tottenham (1915)
Fulham v Aston Villa (1830), Leicester v Leeds (1915).