LONDON (AP) — Trailing 1-0 to Everton at halftime, Manchester City didn’t much look like the newly crowned Club World Cup champion despite the new golden FIFA badge on the front of the players’ shirts.
But Pep Guardiola had a simple message to his players at the break.
“The manager (told us) at halftime to just keep believing, we haven’t got this badge for no reason,” City midfielder Phil Foden said. “In the second half, yeah, wow, I think we blew them away with the way we played.”
Foden started the comeback by equalising in the 53rd minute, before Julian Alvarez’s penalty and a late goal by Bernardo Silva secured a 3-1 win at Everton to put the defending champions back into the Premier League’s top four.
“That’s why we’re the world champions. The best team in the world,” Guardiola said with a smile in a post-game interview on Amazon Prime. “Now I’m going to remind them every day. We have a standard to keep.”
The trip to Saudi Arabia for the Club World Cup was perhaps a bit of a distraction and allowed rivals Liverpool and Arsenal to widen the gap at the top. But City now can now fully refocus on the task of winning an unprecedented fourth straight Premier League title, and this was a vital first step in showing that they can’t be counted out despite a recent poor run of form.
City are five points behind leader Liverpool with a game in hand, while Arsenal can go six points ahead of Guardiola’s team by beating West Ham on Thursday.
“We know after six games with just one win, the people were asking, which is normal because it is all about results,” Guardiola said about his team’s recent run. “I have a feeling this team, we’re going to be there.”
Even with Erling Haaland still out with a foot injury, City showed they have more than enough attacking threat to turn things around against a team that had beaten Newcastle and Chelsea in their last two league home games. But it came as a cost as center back John Stones had to go off with an ankle injury before halftime.
“It doesn’t look good,” Guardiola said about the injury, “but we will see.”
CHELSEA GETS RARE HOME WIN
League victories at Stamford Bridge have been hard to come by for Chelsea in 2023. But their last home game of the year ended in a 2-1 win over Crystal Palace after substitute Noni Madueke converted a late penalty for the hosts.
It was just Chelsea’s sixth home league win of the calendar year, and Mauricio Pochettino’s team once again struggled to turn possession into goals for much of the game. With Chelsea fielding the club’s youngest ever starting lineup for a Premier League game — thanks to a slew of injuries and suspensions — the Blues took the lead through Mykhailo Mudryk in the 13th minute. But the hosts missed several chances to double their advantage before Michael Olise equalised just before the break.
Just as it looked like Chelsea’s inefficiency up front would cost them again, Madueke was tripped by Eberechi Eze inside the area and stepped up to the spot himself to send goalkeeper Dean Henderson the wrong way in the 89th minute.
That lifted Chelsea into 10th place, which is still far from where the club had expected to be at this stage when it hired Pochettino at the end of last season.
“The first half of the season has been really up and down and it’s been tough and difficult,” Pochettino said. “But we’re positive and we need to show that we can compete.”
Brentford might need to start worrying about a relegation scrap.
Thomas Frank’s team fell to a sixth loss in seven games after making a couple of defensive howlers in a 4-1 home defeat against Wolverhampton.
South Korea forward Hwang Hee-chan scored twice as Wolves took full advantage of Brentford’s mistakes, including one that came straight after the kickoff following the visitors’ opening goal. Nathan Collins’ back pass to goalkeeper Mark Flekken was under-hit, allowing Hwang to round him and tap into an empty net barely 10 seconds after the restart.
Brentford are in 14th place, just four points outside the relegation zone, while Wolves climbed to 11th place.
“We performed well, we just made too many big mistakes that killed the game,” Frank said. “We just need to put in the good performance and things will turn around.”