The 2-2 draw between Chelsea and Liverpool at Stamford Bridge was such an intense and exciting match and was another example of how the level of great football has risen in the Premier League. It was a fantastic spectacle that witnessed Liverpool taking an early 2-0 lead. But the Blues were able to come back and then either team could have won it near the end. It was a great advert for Premier League football and even though both clubs could not win, one other club certainly did, and that was Manchester City. The champions and league leaders dream result from this game was the draw and they got it and the final score would have been even sweeter given that Liverpool at 2-0 up looked be heading for all three points.
Manchester City are aiming for back to back titles and they now have a 10 point lead at the top over Chelsea. They lead 11 points over Liverpool but the Reds do have a game extra to play but even with victory in that game a gap of 8 points is a lot to ask over this Manchester City side. Although the Christmas period of games did not confirm it of course the 2021/22 champions look like they will be Pep Guardiola's side.
Sticking with Chelsea and the dominant story coming out of west London was of centre forward Romelu Lukaku's interview with Sky Italia. The narrative may have been to appease Inter Milan fans, Lukaku's former club, where he believed he didn't get to say a proper good bye but he also criticised Chelsea and then shamed both clubs by suggesting that Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich are the three best clubs in the world. There are many seasons where Lukaku's claim would have been true but he should be reminded that he is playing for the current European champions. Lukaku had to issue an official apology but it is questionable how genuine he was being- he wanted the Italian interview, this apology may have been heartfelt- let's remember he is a fan of Chelsea since he was a youngster but it also felt forced.
Lukaku was on the face of it being brutally honest about Thomas Tuchel's tactics- they are not working week in and week out for the Belgian. He has gone from a winning consistency at Inter to a club who are dropping too many points at home, and although Lukaku did not rule out Chelsea winning the Premier League this season that just seemed like more sugar coating for the fans.
Lukaku has apologised and that should put an end to what feels like a story that grew in a slow sports week. It is interesting though if dropping Lukaku was really the correct thing to do days before the huge Liverpool game. Of course Tuchel needs to show his authority but it's hard not to feel when managers drop players over discipline that they are hurting their own team. Maybe a huge fine and extra training would have sufficed? Players will never want to be hit in the pocket and one has to question if Lukaku is missing playing for Inter, did he really mind missing a league encounter against Liverpool?
League football takes a break for a week as we head into the third round of the FA Cup and that means Premier League involvement in the 141st FA Cup tournament. There are some really interesting games too. Struggling Everton will head to Hull and they will need to win that game to get the confidence going again. Manchester City are away to Swindon and shouldn't run into too much bother there. Holders Leicester will be expected to beat Watford at home. Chelsea could get a cricket score at home to Chesterfield depending on what side they put out. West Ham meet Leeds in an all Premier League affair that should be full of passion and another one sees Manchester United at home to Aston Villa.
To win the FA Cup: Manchester City 4.33, Chelsea 7.00, Liverpool 7.00, Manchester United 9.00, Arsenal 14.00