A tepid Man City performance ensured the initiative was handed to both Liverpool and Tottenham after the Cityzens were held to a draw with West Brom.
The first real chance of the contest did not fall to the side you might have expected.
Baggies frontman Karlan Grant was set free as Mna City’s defence parted, but his low drive was superbly saved by Ederson in a massive let-off for the hosts.
Man City were retaining the vast bulk of possession, but a well-organised West Brom backline stood firm and prevented a single shot being fired Sam Johnstone’s way inside the first 20 minutes.
As the half-hour mark, the hosts finally found their cutting edge.
Raheem Sterling ghosted into space down the side of the box, before squaring an inch-perfect pass to the onrushing Ilkay Gundogan.
The German made no mistake with his first-time finish to break the deadlock.
With half-time approaching and little action to speak, of, West Brom were handed a huge lifeline through a deflected equaliser.
City failed to clear their lines following a free-kick, with the ball eventually dropping to Semi Ajayi.
The centre-half’s shot appeared to be going well wide, but deflected off Ruben Dias to leave Ederson stranded as the ball rolled past him into the unguarded net.
Semi Ajayi STUNS Man City!
— Amazon Prime Video Sport (@primevideosport) December 15, 2020
City came out with renewed vigour to begin the second-half, and came close to retaking the lead through Gabriel Jesus.
The Brazilian rose high to meet a corner, but his headed effort looped narrowly over the bar.
Kevin De Bruyne – unusually quiet – began to pull the strings and tested Johnstone out at the near post with a disguised strike.
West Brom continued to stand firm without reallyposing a threat on the counter. Nevertheless, a point at The Etihad would be more than they would’ve hoped for pre-match.
Sergio Aguero was then introduced as Guardiola went in search of a winner.
Johnstone palmed away a low De Bruyne free-kick as the game entered it’s final stages, but City were failing to create the type of chances one would have expected in previous years.
Aguero then blazed wide from a similar position to his famous league title-winning goal versus QPR, while Johnstone produced a match-defining save from a Gundogan close-range header.
The West Brom goalkeeper then produced another outstanding save to deny Sterling after another wicked cross from De Bruyne.
That effort was the hosts’ last chance at finding a winner before full-time blew on a 1-1 draw.