Is … is this what a title race looks like?

Manchester City might be the best team in the Premier League, but their loss to Chelsea could give us a real title race.

Manchester City finished on 100 points last season, shattering the old record of 95. They won more games and scored more goals than any team in Premier League history. Their goal difference was the highest ever.

This season, through 15 matches, they had been even better, dropping only four points (two in a fixture in which they dropped three last season) and scoring 11 more goals than the next most prolific attack in the league. They were on pace for 104 points, an unbeaten season, a place in the pantheon of great Premier League dynasties.

Then they lost to Chelsea, and now all manner of hell seems in danger of breaking loose. For City, despite their historically dominant start to this campaign, are in second place, a point behind Liverpool after 16 matches. What are we supposed to make of that?

Before City’s loss to Chelsea, the consensus view of Jurgen Klopp’s side was that they were very good, but not City good, and that sooner or later some of their hard-fought wins would turn into hard-fought losses and draws, and that they would fall behind in what was always really just a one-horse title race anyway, as City cruised to multiple-goal thrashings of the league’s lesser (and some of its more-er) lights.

All of this remains the most likely outcome of the season. City dropping points won’t fix the problems with Liverpool’s attack, nor is it likely to impact their own performances going forward. For one thing, few teams in the league are as good as Chelsea. For another, following their first loss of last season, they won seven of their next eight games. Pep Guardiola isn’t know for his relentless pursuit of improvement for nothing.

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But while City’s loss doesn’t change much, it surely changes something. This is, after all, one of the most dominant teams in Premier League history. For Liverpool to even be in the title conversation, let alone top spot, at this point is a sign they are no ordinary challengers. Even if City do win the trophy, it seems likely Liverpool will finish with more points than any second-place side in the Premier League era. Manchester United currently hold that record with 89 points. The Reds are on pace for 99.

Perhaps above all what the reaction to City’s Chelsea loss tells us is how desperate we are for some excitement. Guardiola’s side play some truly beautiful soccer, but there is a limit to how enjoyable a one-sided win can be, a limit City exceeded long ago. In the process, they have threatened to turn The Most Competitive League In The World into a shinier, wealthier, stupider version of the Bundesliga Serie A.

They might yet succeed in that endeavor, but for now, after one glorious Saturday afternoon at Stamford Bridge, the Premier League has a title race again.

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