A 1-0 defeat to Tottenham in the first game of last season and a 5-2 loss to Leicester in the second game of the season before both set the tone for the campaigns for Manchester City. It now seems like a yearly ritual preceding the winning of the Premier League title.
So when the team started this campaign with back-to-back victories, it looked like a new trend was about to be set. Some were even suggesting a third league title on the bounce was about to be secured with ease, given the absence of a serious challenger, and the reluctance to take Arsenal seriously.
As Ilkay Gundogan slotted home Manchester City’s first goal against Newcastle in the fifth minute of the game on Sunday, it seemed like it was going to be another stroll in the park. After two comfortable wins scoring six goals and conceding none against David Moyes’s well-drilled West Ham and newcomers Bournemouth, questions were already being put to Pep Guardiola concerning the title race.
Expected main challengers Liverpool started the new campaign on a shaky note, dropping points in their first two games. So some journalists could be forgiven for getting carried away far too early as they began to talk up the possibility of a no-contest in the title race.
Well-experienced in these matters, the City boss promptly dismissed any talk of having an advantage in the title race so early in the day. The objective as always was to focus on the next game and see where that leads the team.
If there was any need to prove the manager was right, it came in the game against Newcastle. Despite taking the lead so early in the encounter, the home side stormed back to score two goals and quickly turned the game on its head.
Adding the third in the second half to take the score to 3-1 only compounded the problem for the Blues. For a moment it looked like an occasion for handing over power to the next king. It was set up as a feast for the media, ready to proclaim the match as one that marked the dethronement of City as the dominant team in the land by the new “King” in the making.
But the Blues fought back to earn a share of the spoils and underlined the fact that rising to the top and staying there wasn’t just a matter of money. Newcastle may be the new money bags, but City remain the “Kings of England”.
However, putting three past Ederson with such relative ease should serve as an early warning for Guardiola’s men not to let their guards down. The manager has usually gone into each season declaring that it would be harder than the previous one. That puts the players on their toes fighting hard from the first blast of the whistle.
The game at Newcastle should serve as a wake-up call to keep the fire on and fight off every opposition in the quest to continue the domestic dominance.