Manchester City’s nightmare December continued on Boxing Day, as the defending English Premier League champions fell 2-1 at Leicester City.
The loss was City’s third defeat in four matches, and dropped them into third place on the EPL table.
Leicester Downs City on Late Goal
City was coming off a stunning 3-2 home loss to Crystal Palace and looking to right the ship on Boxing Day. The game started well for City, as Bernardo Silva opened the scoring with a left-footed finish just under 15 minutes into the contest.
But the lead didn’t last long. Marc Albrighton scored for Leicester on a headed cross four minutes later to knot the score at one. And despite 11 shots from City, Leicester was able to keep the visitors off the scoreboard for the rest of the match. An 81st-minute blast from Ricardo Pereira gave Leicester a 2-1 lead, and the hosts were able to hold on to that advantage to grab the full three points.
“It was a similar performance to the Crystal Palace game,” Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola told the BBC. “We started well but concede a goal the first time they arrived in our box. Mentally we are lacking confidence in that situation.”
Liverpool, Tottenham Coast to Victories
City’s loss was amplified by the emphatic wins by the two other main contenders for the EPL title this season. Currently leaders Liverpool had little trouble against Newcastle United on Boxing Day, winning 4-0 at Anfield. Four different players scored in the blowout win, which gave Liverpool a six-point lead in the EPL standings.
“We just focused on ourselves and it’s game by game for us,” said Liverpool center back Dejan Lovren, who scored the first goal of the match, said afterwards. “We need to keep this momentum and after the next couple of games we will see where we are. Every game now matters.”
Meanwhile, second place now belongs to Tottenham Hotspur, which thrashed Bournemouth 5-0 to surpass Manchester City in the standings. Son Heung-Min scored twice to lead the Spurs attack, with Christian Eriksen, Lucas Moura, and Harry Kane also contributing goals.
Despite Tottenham’s ascension to legitimate title contender, manager Mauricio Pochettino played down expectations for his side with so much time left in the season.
“We are in a very good position, but Liverpool and Manchester City are the real contenders,” Pochettino told BBC Sport. “We are only halfway to the end of the season, we need to replicate the same second-half of the season. It is up to us, if we show the same quality and same belief and behave in the way we behave, then maybe at the end of the season we can talk in the way that maybe we fight for big things.”
Where the EPL Title Chase Stands
Heading into the season, Manchester City was seen as the clear favorite to win their second consecutive EPL championship, with Liverpool being the most serious threat to their title defense.
Even with their recent struggles, City remained the favorite to win the league until the results of Boxing Day. With Liverpool now six points ahead of Tottenham and seven in front of City, bookmakers have had to rapidly reevaluate the title picture.
With a lead of more than two full games, Liverpool (4/6) is now the favorite according to British bookmaker William Hill. City (13/8) remains a close second choice, though their odds have rapidly lengthened over the past week. Meanwhile, impressive displays by Tottenham have seen Spurs become a legitimate contender, with William Hill now listing the side at 8/1 to lift the trophy this season.
Nobody else is being seriously considered as a potential winner, though odds are still available on Chelsea (100/1), Arsenal (125/1), and Manchester United (250/1).