News Update


Chelsea 4-4 Manchester City: Under Mauricio Pochettino, the Londoners are showing signs of life.

Chelsea went from chaotic to classic in six days, demonstrating that the green shoots of recovery are finally growing under manager Mauricio Pochettino’s leadership.

If Monday’s 4-1 victory over Tottenham was remembered for an overworked Video Assistant Referee (VAR), red cards, disallowed goals, and Spurs manager Ange Postecoglou’s now-famous high line, this 4-4 draw with Manchester City was simply a furious, magnificent, end-to-end feast of football.

VAR did have a say at Stamford Bridge, granting City a penalty in the first half when Marc Cucurella was ruled to have hauled down Erling Haaland – a decision made contentious by the Chelsea defender’s insistence that he had been fouled first.

The sheer quality of the football on offer, the fluctuating fortunes, the twists and turns in the plot that kept everyone on the edge of their seats until Cole Palmer’s penalty handed the hosts a deserved draw in the 95th minute, must take the headlines this time.

After a somewhat calm start, the attention was drawn to the action as one team, then the other, rushed forward on the attack in virtually basketball fashion.

At the final whistle, players from both teams sank into each other’s arms, exhausted from a massive effort that resulted in the points being rightfully divided.

Chelsea, in particular, have packed enough stress, drama, physical and emotional intensity into their previous two Premier League games to last a season.

The incidents and controversy surrounding their eventual victory against Spurs almost overshadowed it.

If Spurs’ achievement had an element of mayhem away from the actual football, this was a time for the neutral to sit back and enjoy in the delight of what was being watched, while Chelsea and City fans experienced all the emotions that a game like this could bring.

Chelsea and Pochettino have just experienced their most busy week together since he took over in July, but it has also been their greatest week.

When Postecoglou’s side was down to nine men on Monday, they needed to hold their composure to eventually overcome the almost frightening, unorthodoxy of Postecoglou and Spurs’ approach.

Under Pochettino, Chelsea demonstrated that they are on the path to recovery by trading blows with City’s Treble winners to gain a point that will give the manager and his players increased belief and confidence.

Chelsea’s best work was anchored by two former City players with opposing points to prove. Specifically, Raheem Sterling and Cole Palmer.

First, some fundamentals.

City took the lead through Haaland’s penalty, but goals from Thiago Silva and Sterling turned things around, as Manuel Akanji equalized immediately before halftime.

After Haaland’s score shortly after the break, Nicolas Jackson put Chelsea back on track.

Rodri appeared to have won it for City with a deflected strike four minutes from time, but Ruben Dias’ harsh charge on Chelsea replacement Armando Broja allowed Palmer to win it in dramatic fashion with his penalty kick.

What a moment for Palmer, the 21-year-old City let leave in a £40 million deal this summer despite the enormous promise he had showed at Etihad Stadium and the fact he was one of their own, having been at the club since he was six.

Palmer will have taken in the narrative that around him as he stepped up in the rain at Stamford Bridge, but he stayed composed as he fired a confident penalty past Ederson.

He is an undeniably talented player, and City would scarcely have been eager sellers, but perhaps there was a sense that the Wythenshawe-born Palmer needed more first-team experience than Guardiola could provide in the short term.

Given the world-class quality Guardiola has at his disposal, it’s a stretch to say Palmer is City’s loss, but the evidence so far shows he is Chelsea’s gain.

Given that England’s position in Euro 2024 is secure before their next two qualifiers against Malta at Wembley and North Macedonia away, manager Gareth Southgate may have been better advised to include Palmer in his newest team. He will almost certainly earn a full England cap in the future.

Sterling was surrounded not only by the ex-City subplot, but also by the England argument, and he was vying for the spotlight with Palmer.

Sterling has been revitalized this season after a disappointing first season at Chelsea following his move from City, but his latest rejection from Southgate’s team implies he is relying on circumstance rather than form to re-ignite his England career and earn a return.

Southgate, who has a valid point, asked who he should leave out of his squad in order to select Sterling.

Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka, Manchester City’s Phil Foden and Jack Grealish, West Ham United’s Jarrod Bowen, and Manchester United attacker Marcus Rashford are also strong contenders.

What Sterling can do is show his enduring talent and top form, which he did here with a sparkling display of great running and skill – which also resulted in a goal – in a performance in which he was a continuous menace to the City defense.

There is a sense that Sterling is on the outside looking in for England, but performances like this will keep the 28-year-old in the international conversation.

Southgate thinks that a player who was once one of his most trusted and seasoned staples may still play for England. Sterling will hit it hard if he continues to perform like this.

City led three times, the last barely four minutes before the end of normal time, and will likely be disappointed that they could not secure the victory that would have extended their lead at the top to three points rather than one.

In the end, though, this was a fantastic game that neither team deserved to lose.


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