Premier League: Title race back on as Newcastle hold Manchester City in thriller
For a moment there it was looking like there might not be a title race, merely a Manchester City procession towards a third consecutive Premier League crown.
But after Newcastle United gave them a torrid afternoon on Tyneside in a wildly entertaining 3-3 draw yesterday, City don’t look dead certs after all.
Having taken a fifth-minute lead through Ilkay Gundogan, the visitors slipped into cruise control far too early and the hosts relished taking the fight to them.
Miguel Almiron bundled in an equaliser before Callum Wilson poked Newcastle in front at the break and Kieran Trippier put them two up with a rasping free-kick.
City duly hit back with two goals in five minutes, from Erling Haaland and Bernardo Silva, but failed to summon a winner or even a sustained bombardment in the final stages.
It was odd, then, that Pep Guardiola did not bring on Riyad Mahrez or Julian Alvarez, with the enforced substitution of Nathan Ake his only change.
Was he making a point to the club’s hierarchy about squad depth? Or did he simply trust his players to dig their way out of a hole?
Either way, City are two points behind early leaders Arsenal and could be just two ahead of their main title rivals after Liverpool play Manchester United on Monday night.
Trippier’s Magpies unbeaten in Premier League
Newcastle, meanwhile, feasted on the wide expanses of St James’ Park afforded to them, with Allan Saint-Maximin particularly in his element.
He set up Almiron and Wilson for their goals, although the pick of the bunch came from Trippier, a 25-yard free-kick that curled away from Ederson and into the top-left corner.
The England right-back has brought an assuredness to Newcastle since his arrival last January; they are unbeaten in his eight Premier League outings, winning five. Behind Trippier, Nick Pope was vital in sharing the points.
The much-improved Magpies have an eye on European qualification this season and this was further fuel for those ambitions.
Chelsea left reeling by hard-running Leeds
Leeds United midfielder Brenden Aaronson accidentally delivered a damning assessment of Chelsea after inflicting a bruising 3-0 defeat on them yesterday in the Premier League.
Asked about the fact that his team had collectively run 11km further than their opponents, the American said: “It shows who wanted it more.”
And it was hard to argue with Aaronson. Leeds hustled and harried Chelsea at every turn and the visitors proved unable to cope, as exemplified by the opening goal.
Aaronson charged at Edouard Mendy and, when the Blues goalkeeper attempted an ill-judged dragback, pinched the ball off his toe and rabbit into the empty net.
The visitors looked blunt in attack, were overrun in midfield and exposed at the back, to the extent that defender Kalidou Koulibaly earned a second yellow card.
Thomas Tuchel can point to the absence of N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic but there was an alarming lack of cohesion about his team at Elland Road.
After eking out a win at Everton and throwing away three points at home to Tottenham, this defeat left Chelsea nearer the bottom of the table than the top.
Tuchel lamented early chances missed and claimed his team had been better, but after a chaotic end to last season they retain the sense of a side in flux.
It wasn’t simply about running but Leeds, who gave up 59 per cent of possession, did most of their best work without the ball.
When they did get it, the fleet-footed Jack Harrison and Rodrigo – who added the other goals – made Koulibaly and Thiago Silva look every day of their 31 and 37 years respectively.
Leeds’s scramble to survive in the Premier League last season did not bode well for the new campaign but after three games they are in the dizzy heights of second.
Has everyone underestimated Jesse Marsch and his new-look team? Next week’s trip to improving Brighton will go some way to testing that hypothesis.
West Ham woe continues
For all that the Seagulls have started well, alarm bells may be ringing at the London Stadium after West Ham lost 2-0.
The Hammers are yet to score or take a point in three league games this term and are below even crisis club Manchester United – for now, at least.
David Moyes’s side did win in the Europa Conference League on Thursday but reasons for optimism are thin on the ground right now in east London.
Even the boost of a new signing in Thilo Kehrer managed to turn sour as the Germany full-back conceded a penalty on his debut.