United delaying City’s title celebrations and ‘a historical game you will talk about in 20 years’ both feature
Liverpool 4-3 Manchester City (14 January)
Jürgen Klopp said it best, even if the NBCSN commentator had to apologise for the German’s exemplary deployment of the F-bomb. “You can have a look at this game in different ways,” summarised Klopp after the final whistle brought an end to a wild drama in which Liverpool hit three goals in nine minutes before clinging on frantically to inflict City’s first league defeat of the campaign. “You can look at it as a manager and say ‘OK, we could have done this or that better.’ Or you can have a look at it as a football fan and say ‘What the fuck was that?!’ It was unbelievable. This was a historical game you will talk about in 20 years … people watched this game all over the world and this is why — take your heart, throw it on the pitch and play like this, both teams.”
Manchester City 2-3 Manchester United (7 April)
A game of two halves and four teams. Brilliant City swept aside Woeful United to run up a two-goal lead and lay one hand on the title. Then Wonderful United appeared for the second period and blew away Brittle City. No one personified the transformation more than Paul Pogba, invisible in the first half and unstoppable in the second. It only delayed City’s coronation by a week, and United lost at home to West Brom in their next game, but this match gave United fans a tantalising hint of what they could become and City showed how far they still have to go.
Watford 0-6 Manchester City (16 September)
City did not have to lose to be involved in a classic. This was an awesome demonstration of the success of their evolution since last season. They looked complete, with Benjamin Mendy such a force down the left that it felt tragic when he was struck down by injury a short time later. Watford went into the game in decent form and did not play badly, nor did they have a man sent off as Liverpool had done when losing 5-0 to City a week earlier, but they were torn apart. Sergio Agüero scored an exquisite hat-trick – his third goal was one of the season’s best – the striker skittering past three defenders before guiding the ball past the goalkeeper and into the corner from an acute angle.
Chelsea 2-3 Burnley (12 August)
Chelsea were the reigning champions, Burnley had not won a single away match in their previous league campaign. Naturally, then, on the opening day of this season Sean Dyche’s side raced into a 3-0 lead, with Sam Vokes netting twice and Stephen Ward lashing a ferocious volley into the top corner. Chelsea, reduced to 10 men when Gary Cahill was sent off in the 14th minute, were in the state that Antonio Conte had warned about when complaining throughout the summer, limp and disjointed, the exact opposite of a tight Burnley team who would continue surpassing expectations for the rest of the season. Chelsea threatened to mount a comeback in the second half but lost their heads while Burnley held firm and came close to increasing their lead when Robbie Brady hit a post. Cesc Fàbregas became the second home player to be dismissed when he made a daft lunge towards the end of a dramatic contest.
Bournemouth 3-3 West Ham (26 December)
A sodden pitch, action and errors throughout, two late turn-around goals before a controversial stoppage-time equaliser and foul-mouthed recriminations at the final whistle … are what English football’s festive period is all about. In what was already being described as a relegation six-pointer James Collins headed the visitors in front in the seventh minute but Dan Gosling and Nathan Aké crashed in goals to put Bournemouth back on top. The hosts spurned several chances to increase their lead as West Ham seemed to be in danger of being blown away on the seaside. Marko Arnautovic did not seem himself – maybe because the name on his jersey read ‘Arnoutovic’, but he changed shirt at half-time and came to the party just before the end, firing in two late goals to swing things in West Ham’s favour. But in the 93rd minute Aké send a header towards goal and Callum Wilson helped it over the line from close range – with his arm, according to furious West Ham players and staff.