Liverpool for starters, Pukki hat-trick against Newcastle - how it all kicked off!
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
With the resumption of the Premier League not far away, we look at the story so far – Chris Lakey winds the clock back to August
And so it began.
With much enthusiasm and an awful lot of optimism, the reality was just around the corner.
City were back in the big time ... how would they fare?
It was a trip to Anfield for openers, the very first game of the Premier League season on a Friday evening and in a way, the game has summed up nutshell-style much of what has happened this season: City were well beaten, but won themselves plenty of admirers for the way they played.
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It was like shooting apples in a barrel at times in the first half as Liverpool sliced City open.
Poor Grant Hanley could only hold his head in his hands as he set the ball rolling with a seventh-minute own goal, but the rest was all down to the hosts as Mo Salah, Virgil van Dijk and Divock Origi made it 4-0 by half-time.
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It was looking painful, but City were made of decent stuff. They still went for it and on 64 minutes got their reward when Teemu Pukki scored. It was what City deserved, in many senses.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp was a fan: “I said to Daniel before the game I like the energy and the fun. They are cheeky like hell and will do what they want to do. I have to say only the biggest respect for what Danny is doing there with the boys. A very interesting and exciting team they have there.”
Farke found some consolation: “There are many positive things to take. When you are 4-0 down in front of an excited home crowd at Anfield to go back out and win the second half, okay maybe a bit lucky, but that is quite crucial.”
You could almost put that down as a banker home win - Liverpool had after, all, finished a close second in the title race the previous season, their 97 points one behind Manchester City and a record for a Premier League runner-up.
Eight days later, City at home to Newcastle had to go down as winnable: home games had to be viewed that way. And so it was. Steve Bruce was in charge of the visitors, and it wasn’t going well.
Teemu Pukki didn’t help the City old boy’s cause: he made it four goals in two games as he helped himself to a hat-trick, his goals coming in minutes 32, 63, 75 before Jonjo Shelvey got a last-minute consolation for the Magpies. It was the first top-flight hat-trick by a Norwich City player since Efan Ekoku back in September 1993.
“Of course this is one of the best games I’ve had in English football,” said Pukki. “A hat-trick in the Premier League I wouldn’t even have dreamt about a couple of years ago.”
Farke went all ‘fan’ in his summing up of the game: “First home game in the Premier League. First at Carrow Road after a terrific last season. To be there with such a great result. Carrow Road was rocking, buzzing. A special afternoon.”
And on Pukki? “A role model for our spirit. No one is thinking more about themselves. I was never worried if he could step up.”
But the big boys aren’t long in coming around and next up was a visit from a new team, Frank Lampard’s Chelsea, formerly known as just Chelsea.
It was a ding-dong tussle - Tammy Abraham put Chelsea ahead after just three minutes, the time on which it took Todd Cantwell to equalise. Mason Mount restored the visitors’ lead before Pukki proved it wasn’t just a young person’s game by levelling on the half-hour mark, only for Abraham to get a winner with 22 minutes left.
“We are disappointed because we are not here for plaudits. We want to win points in this league,” said Farke.
The EFL Cup saw a somewhat embarrassing 1-0 defeat at Crawley – it wasn’t a bad side either.
The trip to West Ham four days later was much more important, but City and Pukki could only fire blanks and goals from Sebastian Haller (24) and Andriy Yarmolenko (56) settled the issue.
The story had a bit of a twist in the tail – both strikers earned the wrath of Farke post-match for incidents just before they scored. Haller for a challenge, which went unpunished, on Christoph Zimmermann who limped off after little more than half an hour – he would be out for three months; Yarmolenko for an alleged elbow on Tom Trybull which earned only a lecture from the referee prior to the interval.
“Now I am not sitting here demanding red cards but one thing is for sure, there was a tackle against my centre back and the ball was three yards away. There was no red card, no yellow card, not even a free kick. The outcome is my centre back is injured in this scene. There was a first-half incident with the player who scored when my player was elbowed. The referee even spoke to him and his captain and warned him but he did not react again in this manner. This player scores the second goal.”
August certainly ended with a bang.