LONDON: The Premier League is proving much tougher for Manchester City than the Champions League. They have won all four group matches in Europe but have Liverpool and Arsenal breathing down their domestic neck after a thrilling 4-4 draw at Chelsea.

Pep Guardiola’s men played their best football of the season at time at Stamford Bridge but it was not enough. They were foiled, in particular, by the brilliance of old boys Raheem Sterling and Cole Palmer.

Sterling, upset at being overlooked this week by England manager Gareth Southgate, scored one goal and was a perpetual danger. Palmer, who left City for Chelsea in August, not only provided intelligent support but rapped home the stoppage time penalty which squared the scores.

Thus Guardiola’s European and Premier champions will resume action against Liverpool one point clear of their second-placed opponents after the international break.

Chelsea, fired up by Monday’s dramatic 4-1 win at Tottenham on Monday, made an aggressive start but fell behind after 25 minutes. VAR vindicated referee Anthony Taylor in punishing Marc Cucurella for pulling Erling Haaland’s arm. Haaland, who failed to score against Chelsea last season, made amends by shooting his penalty low to the right of keeper Robert Sanchez.

The goal took Haaland’s total to 12 in the league and to 19 in all competitions.

Cucurella and ex-City forward Cole Palmer were shown yellow cards in the melee before Chelsea equalised four minutes later. This time Haaland was caught out in Coty’s own penalty box as Thiago Silva darted forward to score his first goal since January 2022.

Next it was Josko Gvardiol at fault when Chelsea took a 37th-minute lead. Palmer set up Reece James to outplay the ex-Leipzig defender and provide Raheem Sterling with a simple tap-in. This was Sterling’s first goal against his old club since he was sold to Chelsea for £47m in 2022.

Their lead lasted nine minutes. Haaland missed a chance with only Sanchez to beat before the unmarked Manuel Akanji headed City’s equaliser after a short corner.

The goals kept flowing after the interval. First Phil Foden waited for an overlap by Julian Alvarez and the Argentinian’s low cross was slid home by the inevitable Haaland. Then Nicolas Jackson levelled with his fourth goal in six days after Ederson failed to hold a drive from the outstanding Conor Gallagher.

City thought they had won it when Thiago Silva jabbed out a boot and deflected Rodri’s drive wide of keeper Sanchez. Instead Ruben Dias brought down Armando Broja and Palmer struck his penalty nervelessly home.