Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola insisted he still “loves” his players after a shock 3-2 defeat at newly-promoted Norwich saw the Premier League champions fall five points behind Liverpool at the top of the table.
City lost for the first time in the league since January as Kenny McLean, Todd Cantwell and Teemu Pukki struck for an injury-ravaged Norwich at Carrow Road.
Liverpool now unexpectedly find themselves well ahead of the chasing pack and in the box seat – as you can be so early in the season anyway – in the title race.
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media_cameraTodd Cantwell and Jamal Lewis celebrate following Norwich’s incredible win.
The Reds rebounded from an early setback to beat Newcastle United 3-1 and maintain their perfect record. Sadio Mane’s first-half brace cancelled out Jetro Willem’s seventh-minute strike and Mo Salah added the clincher as Liverpool made it five wins from five.
Winless in their last 23 league visits to Anfield, Newcastle took a shock lead when Willems sent a shot into the top right corner.
Liverpool equalised through Mane, who then put them in front by tapping into the empty net before Salah slotted past Dubravka in the 72nd minute to wrap-up a 14th straight league win overall and leaves them unbeaten in their last 43 in the league at Anfield.
Meanwhile, City boss Guardiola claimed the odd slip-up at Norwich is the norm rather than the exceptional form City have demonstrated in winning back-to-back Premier League titles.
Guardiola’s men posted a record 100 points in 2017/18 and held off Liverpool’s club record 97-point haul to retain their title with 98 points last season.
media_cameraLiverpool have suddenly left the chasing pack well behind.
“I know what we are as a team, what we have done, what we are going to do again, and I love my players. It is a pleasure and honour to be with them,” he said.
“That is the challenge in a high level. The people cannot expect all the time (to) win or make 100 points, 90 points.
“It shows how difficult everything (we have done) is. Now we need to recover, go to Europe (in the Champions League) and come back.”
Norwich boss Daniel Farke, who had to name two goalkeepers on his substitute bench just to make up the numbers due to an injury crisis, was naturally delighted with the result.
“It is a great day for us, for the whole club and for the supporters,” he said.
“I can’t praise enough the spirit and mentality of my players because it was an unbelievably complicated week.
media_cameraTammy Abraham was the hero for Chelsea at Wolves.
“We worked on a different approach because we thought we have to change a bit our base formation for this game, but after all these injuries, we turned back because I didn’t want to annoy the lads too much or confuse them.”
Tottenham returned to winning ways with a resounding 4-0 victory at home to Crystal Palace.
Son Heung-min opened his account for the season in the 11th minute, collecting Toby Alderweireld’s long ball and firing into the bottom corner.
Spurs doubled their lead courtesy of Patrick Van Aanholt’s own goal after 21 minutes and, just 100 seconds later, Son volleyed home a glorious third from Serge Aurier’s cross before Erik Lamela got in on the act before the break.
Spurs move up to third, level on points with fourth-placed Manchester United who beat Leicester 1-0 at Old Trafford.
Tammy Abraham continued his fine form with a hat-trick in Chelsea’s 5-2 win at Wolves while Jeff Hendrick stepped off the bench to equalise late on as Burnley picked up a 1-1 draw away at Brighton, for whom Socceroos Mat Ryan and Aaron Mooy were thrown back into action after Australia’s midweek international win over Kuwait.