In what was billed as a contest that could prove pivotal in this year’s Premier League title chase, Manchester City only managed to widen their buffer at the top of the table on Saturday lunchtime.
With Kevin De Bruyne’s second-half wonder strike securing a 1-0 victory over Chelsea, Pep Guardiola’s side also extended their lead over the chasing pack to 13 points at the Etihad.
Making it back-to-back Premier League victories against the west London outfit after losing to them in last season’s Champions League final, we have taken a look at the main talking points from Saturday’s showdown.
Another Etihad statement
Showing their resolve when opening the New Year with that last-gasp winner away at Arsenal, Manchester City have only found themselves enjoying a remarkable romp on either side of 2022.
Winning 14 of their previous 15 matchups across all competitions before heading into Saturday’s meeting at the Etihad, Guardiola’s side once again underlined why many had tipped them to claim back-to-back Premier League titles this season.
Dominating large spells and allowing just a single strike on Ederson’s goal, it is hard to argue that the Sky Blues were not a more than worthy winner here.
With the returning Jack Grealish almost going close to opening the scoring minutes before the interval, Guardiola’s side put in an almost identical display that saw them claim a 1-0 victory at Stamford Bridge back in September.
Camped in Chelsea’s half despite once again electing to play without a recognized number nine, the former Bayern Munich boss was filled with praise for another professional display on home soil.
At least briefly holding onto a 13-point buffer at the top of the table before Liverpool host Brentford on Sunday, it appears that this season’s title race could have already run its course.
A crucial blow for Chelsea
Although Chelsea might have cruised their way to a 3-0 aggregate win against Spurs earlier in the week, Thomas Tuchel would have been more than aware that his side faced a far sterner test at the Etihad.
However, while the Blues might have made the trip to Manchester on Saturday knowing they had one final chance to keep themselves in the Premier League title chase, they failed to ask few questions here.
With Romelu Lukaku going closest to finding the net after Ederson denied him minutes after the half-time interval, Tuchel constantly cut a frustrated figure on the touchline.
Only offering the occasional counterpunch away from Stamford Bridge, the defending European champions still find themselves seeking some domestic stability over the past month. In fact, Saturday’s 1-0 loss on the road means that Chelsea have dropped 18 points from just their last 12 Premier League matchups.
Always in what appeared to be an uphill struggle, even before De Bruyne’s second-half winner, it would be hard to find a single Blues fan who felt that their side deserved to leave Manchester with anything to show.
KDB shows his class
While De Bruyne might have endured what has been a stop-start campaign so far this season after dealing with some injury issues, the Belgium superstar was certainly at his best on Saturday lunchtime.
Putting in a Man of the Match display after being awarded City’s captain’s armband, the one-time Chelsea star run the show in midfield and it was only right that the 30-year-old’s wonder strike secured all three points.
Breaking the deadlock with 20 minutes left on the clock, De Bruyne stormed forwards deep into Chelsea territory before curling a perfect low right-foot finish before the outstretched left arm of Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Although the reigning PFA Player of the Year might not have been one of City’s leading stars throughout the 2021/22 campaign, there is no doubt that Guardiola will be excited to have his talisman back firing on all cylinders.
Briefly extending their buffer at the top of the table to 13 points, De Bruyne and co will be next seen in seven days time when they make the trip to St. Mary’s
Manchester City: Ederson, Walker, Stones, Laporte, Cancelo, De Bruyne, Rodri, Silva, Sterling, Grealish, Foden
Subs: Gündogan, Jesus
Chelsea: Arrizabalaga, Rudiger, Silva, Sarr, Azpilicueta, Kante, Kovacic, Alonso, Ziyech, Pulisic, Lukaku
Subs: Mount, Werner, Hudson-Odoi
Goals: De Bruyne 70′
Yellow Cards: Kovacic, Alonso
Red Cards: N/A
Referee: Craig Pawson