Citizens extend lead to 13 points

Citizens extend lead to 13 points

Another 1-0 scoreline was all it took for Manchester City to do the double over Chelsea and take their lead at the top of the English Premier League to 13 points.

This even as third-placed Liverpool have two games in hand.

The defeat effectively knocked Chelsea out of the title hunt while City took their winning record to 12 consecutive games.

Thomas Tuchel’s side was passive for most of the game but they kept a rigid defensive structure that curtailed City’s offence, especially in the first half.

Romelu Lukaku had a chance to open up the City defence on 10 minutes when he could have had a shot when he was through on the City goal. He attempted to get his reverse ball to Hakim Ziyech, but the Moroccan was offside.

Kepa Arrizabalaga had a first save four minutes later as he held on to a header from John Stones. Ziyech failed to play a pass to Lukaku, which had Tuchel fuming on the sidelines.

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Another attempt from Ziyech, to find Lukaku, fell short in the 22nd minute as Chelsea were continually relying on counters and long balls to relieve the pressure applied by City.

There was no Jorginho on the pitch to help control possession so it was left to Mateo Kovacic and N’Golo Kante to get on the ball and find the speed and space to launch attacks but Rodri, Bernardo Silva, Kevin De Bruyne, Kyle Walker, and Joao Cancelo were all pushed infield to suffocate any such attacks.

Kovacic was dispossessed just outside the box, and Jack Grealish was played through on goal but an onrushing Arrizabalaga made a great save with his thigh.

The first half ended 0-0 with City having the majority of the ball possession with Chelsea seeking to hit City on the counter.

According to OptaJoe, “Chelsea failed to attempt a shot in the first half at the Etihad; the first time they’ve failed to do so in a Premier League game under Thomas Tuchel, and first time overall since May 2018 v Newcastle. Sheltered.”

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There were no changes for the second half as Mason Mount, Jorginho, and Callum Hudson-Odoi stayed on the bench.

Three minutes into the second half, Kovacic fed Lukaku, who took the ball in his stride and tried a curler but Ederson produced a stunning save. This was just after City thought they had a penalty shout when Alonso collided with Raheem Sterling.

After a positive start to the second half, City began dominating the ball. In 70 minutes, the deserved goal arrived.

De Bruyne took a pass on the half-turn from Joao Cancelo and rode a tackle from Kante. He then drove towards the box and seemingly without options produced a pure curler beyond Arrizabalaga to give the Citizens the lead.

De Bruyne went down injured in the 74th minute but recovered to continue. Aymeric Laporte blocked Timo Werner’s goal-bound shot as City held on to take the victory.

In the post-match interview, Tuchel said he was disappointed because they had at least eight transitions but through which they had zero touches in the City box.

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Now, the title is City’s to lose, with 16 more matches in the league.

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