Manchester City 1-0 Chelsea: Premier League – as it happened
Reaction and analysis
David Hytner was at the Etihad, and his report has landed. Clickity click! Thanks for reading this MBM.
A smiling Pep Guardiola is asked by BT if his side deserved their win. “Absolutely. The way we played, everything we have done. We can not forget we played the European champion, they are incredible. You try to find spaces, but they are not there. They were waiting for a transition to punish us, but we won from a transition. We created enough chances. The team were incredible, brilliant. We won, what we have done, we have won it together. Kevin De Bruyne is world class but humble with the humility to do everything for the team. I want more of him, because I know he can do it. I am so satisfied for him. He has everything. He knows what he can do. His mum and dad have to be so proud.”
“If City keep winning every game, nobody can catch them.” On that subject, their next three matches are against Southampton, Brentford and Norwich, three teams in the bottom half of the table. It might be prudent for Chelsea and Liverpool to concentrate their hopes and dreams on the cups.
Thomas Tuchel is happy with his defenders, not so chuffed with his attackers, telling BT: “The result is disappointing, but this can happen when you play at City. I thought we deserved a draw, we defended very well. We did not allow big chances. We were not under so much pressure. Performance wise, this is OK. The commitment, I am absolutely OK. A draw would be a fair result but we don’t have it. We have won games like this against City, so it feels very different! We had eight or nine offensive transitions, but had zero touches in the box. That was a big problem today, the performance of our front players. A lack of position, timing and composure. We lost too many balls too easily. Romelu Lukaku sometimes needs to do the service, he is included in this, he had many ball losses in very promising circumstances, he had a huge chance. Of course we want to serve him, but he is part of the team, and the performance up front, we can do much better. We will never give up, but if City keep winning every game, nobody can catch them.”
Kevin De Bruyne talks to BT. “It’s a big game. They had a very good plan and were tight defensively but we played a pretty good game and it was nice to score the goal. The team played well. We knew if we won today we’d make the gap bigger, but we don’t have to look at that. We’ve been in this situation before, and a lot of things can change, the momentum can swing quickly. There is another team dangling there. We can only try to win our games, and that is it.”
Updated at 2.33pm GMT
That’s City’s 12th successive Premier League win. Chelsea by contrast have only won one of their last six, and so the top of the table looks like this:
It’s probably fair to say the title is now City’s to lose. Chelsea’s race certainly looks run. Liverpool could put a little bit of pressure on the champs by winning both of their games in hand, but even then they’d also need to beat City at the Etihad in April, and still hope Pep Guardiola’s relentless team somehow misplace their mojo. An awful lot of variables there, and you wouldn’t bet the farm on it.
FULL TIME: Manchester City 1-0 Chelsea
Manchester City go 13 points clear of Chelsea at the top, thanks to Kevin De Bruyne’s wonder strike!
90 min +3: Walker trundles a cross through the six-yard box from the right. Jesus can’t quite reach it, not that it’s likely to matter.
90 min +2: Rudiger launches long. City mop up with ease. Lukaku can’t get a sniff.
90 min +1: Kante rolls a simple pass out of play for a throw to City. Chelsea’s race looks run, in more ways than one.
90 min: Alonso whips a pass down the right in the hope of releasing Werner. The striker, not for the first time in his career, has gone way too early, and the flag goes up. There will be three extra minutes.
88 min: Another long pass in Lukaku’s direction. Ederson races out of his box to head clear. The City fans enjoyed that. They’re also appreciative of Foden, who receives a warm ovation as he departs, to be replaced by Jesus.
86 min: Grealish sashays down the left and creams a shot goalwards from a tight angle. Kepa does extremely well to parry, then acrobatically stops the ball going out for a corner. If there’s to be another goal, this is much more likely to end 2-0 than 1-1.
84 min: De Bruyne is replaced by Gundogan.
83 min: Sterling romps down the right and feeds Foden, who larrups over the bar from the edge of the box. Not so far away.
82 min: Mount tries to release Lukaku but only manages to sail the ball straight through to Ederson. On the touchline, Tuchel throws his arms wide, striking the internationally recognised pose for Why Do I Bother?
81 min: Chelsea’s title hopes are fast disappearing down the swanny, so it’s time for one last throw of the dice. On comes Mount - strange that we’ve not seen him earlier - for Alonso.
80 min: Silva goes sliding in on Alonso, out on the left. Free kick, and a chance to load the box. Hudson-Odoi takes, and sends a strange flat delivery into the area. Easy for De Bruyne to clear. Incredibly poor.
79 min: Azpilicueta finds a bit of space down the right and fires a low cross into the mixer. Ederson flops on the ball calmly, despite plenty of Chelsea presence.
78 min: Foden barrels down the middle of the park. He’s got Sterling to his right. One pass, and he’d be free. But Silva gets in the road to put a stop to Foden’s notions. Fine last-ditch defending.
76 min: City knock it around in a mellow style. They’ll be feeling very good about themselves right now.
74 min: Relief for City as De Bruyne is almost immediately back up and running.
73 min: The goalscorer De Bruyne is down, holding his left ankle. On comes the trainer.
72 min: Chelsea try to hit back immediately. Alonso swings in from the left. Azpilicueta, at the far post, cuts back for Werner, who slams straight at Laporte from six yards. A fine block.
GOAL! Manchester City 1-0 Chelsea (De Bruyne 70)
De Bruyne battles his way past Kante into space down the left, glides infield, uses Silva as a shield, and curls a gorgeous shot around the defender and into the bottom right. Kepa, at full stretch, had no chance. What a goal! A goal that takes City ever closer to the title. They’ll be 13 points clear!
Updated at 2.02pm GMT
69 min: Chelsea make a double change, replacing Pulisic and Ziyech with Werner and Hudson-Odoi.
68 min: Lukaku is robbed by Rodri, who sends Sterling racing down the inside-right channel. Sterling enters the box, uses Sarr as a shield, and drags a shot across Kepa and inches wide of the left-hand post.
67 min: Lukaku battles for a header but can’t get anything on target. No panic for City.
66 min: A rare period of Chelsea possession results in a free kick just inside City territory. Kovacic hits it long for Alonso, who wins a corner out on the left. Ziyech will take.
64 min: De Bruyne hits it deep. Foden shapes to volley spectacularly, only to have the ball taken away from him by his own team-mate Silva. Howls of frustration echo around the Etihad. Chelsea clear their lines.
63 min: De Bruyne curls powerfully towards the top left. Kepa is behind it all the way, and palms over for a corner on the left. De Bruyne will take that, too.
62 min: Grealish shakes his hips to get past Azpilicueta, and is about to enter the box when he’s clipped by the Chelsea man. A free kick to the left of the D. De Bruyne’s eyes light up.
61 min: Silva dribbles down the inside-right channel with purpose, reaching the byline before attempting a cutback for Sterling. The ball takes a deflection and rolls softly into the arms of Kepa.
59 min: Kovacic tries to release Lukaku down the middle, but clumsily clanks the pass straight through to Kepa. He has the good grace to apologise to his team-mate, who had made a promising run.
57 min: City force a corner down the right. Foden takes, and whips it towards the near post. Azpilicueta flashes a header behind for another corner. That was very close to an own goal. Chelsea’s captain does better with take two, heading firmly clear.
55 min: Sterling drops a shoulder and dribbles into the box from the right wing. He squeezes between Alonso and Kante and goes over. He wants a penalty, and he might have had a case, had Silva not been caught offside in the build-up.
53 min: Walker is clipped by Kovacic, 25 yards from goal. A free kick, just to the right of centre. It’s a dangerous position, but De Bruyne weakly floats an uncharacteristically dreadful chip straight into Kepa’s arms.
52 min: Grealish fizzes a low cross through the Chelsea six-yard box from the left. The box is full of defenders, but no attackers, and flies harmlessly away from danger.
51 min: City ping it hither and yon, but Chelsea hold their line on the edge of the box. There’s no way through.
49 min: Lukaku plays a cute ball around the corner, and looks to have sent Ziyech free down the left. But Walker turns on the jets to intercept. What acceleration!
47 min: City immediately get back into their pass-and-move groove. De Bruyne slips into space down the left and whistles a low ball into the box. Sterling stretches to meet but doesn’t get there. He’s lightly tugged by Alonso. City want a penalty, but they’re not getting one. Chelsea go straight up the other end, Kovacic releasing Lukaku down the middle. He’s one on one with Ederson. The keeper wins the battle with a fine parry. The ball breaks to Ziyech, who lashes over the bar. Quite the end-to-end start to the second half!
Updated at 1.43pm GMT
City get the second half underway. No changes.
Half-time entertainment. Meanwhile at the other end of the table ...
HALF TIME: Manchester City 0-0 Chelsea
Nothing happens during the bonus 60 seconds, and both teams troop off for their half-time oranges. It’s been tight and tense.
45 min: There will be one extra minute.
43 min: De Bruyne whistles a speculative shot over the bar from a tight position on the left. Chelsea could do with hearing the half-time whistle, even if they’ll be getting a strip torn off them by the manager soon after.
42 min: In the technical area, Tuchel continues to give his team what for. He’s urging them to step it up, having been second best for the past 20 minutes or so. His half-time team talk promises to be spectacular.
41 min: Pulisic slides in on Cancelo, who accidentally stands on his leg. No serious damage done, although Pulisic felt it, so no booking.
39 min: City should be leading. Kovacic plays a blind pass infield from the left, and Grealish is suddenly one on one with Kepa! He tries to lift his shot over the keeper, but Kepa gets something on it, deflecting the ball wide right. Nothing comes of the resulting corner.
Updated at 1.20pm GMT
38 min: Walker sends De Bruyne clear down the right. De Bruyne looks for Grealish in the middle. Rudiger hacks away, just in time. Then the flag goes up for offside, De Bruyne having gone far too early. Fine defending by Rudiger, nevertheless.
37 min: Silva rolls a pass down the right for Sterling, who wins a corner off Sarr. Foden takes short. De Bruyne slams his cross straight into Azpilicueta, and that’s the end of that.
35 min: Chelsea are struggling to get out of their final third now. City are dominating possession. Foden bursts down the left and rolls an inviting ball across the front of the Chelsea six-yard box. Nobody in sky blue has taken a gamble, and Alonso is able to calmly clear.
Updated at 1.11pm GMT
33 min: Rudiger heads the corner clear.
32 min: Silva grooves in from the right and is hacked down by Kovacic, who follows Alonso into the book. A free kick in a dangerous position. Everyone lines up on the edge of the Chelsea box. De Bruyne takes and hits deep. Alonso batters it out for a corner.
30 min: Tuchel indulges in some more highly strung jigging in his technical area. He’s not happy with his team at all, and urges his defence to push upfield.
Updated at 1.11pm GMT
28 min: Azpilicueta strides into space down the right and feeds Pulisic. City are back pedalling in panic, but Pulisic inexplicably slows everything down, cuts back, exchanges passes with Azpilicueta, and is flagged offside. Chelsea keep making a mess of very promising situations.
27 min: City stroke it around the back awhile.
25 min: Cancelo chases after a loose ball down the left, then fires it low into the mixer. Rudiger does very well to block and clear, with plenty of sky blue shirts waiting to poke home from close range.
24 min: Grealish feeds De Bruyne down the left. De Bruyne takes a whack from the left-hand corner of the six-yard box, but it’s an easy claim for Kepa.
23 min: Silva drifts in from the right and nutmegs Sarr, nearly finding Sterling inside the box. Not quite, and the ball runs through to Kepa.
21 min: Foden is robbed by Kovacic, who sends Ziyech into space down the left. Ziyech looks for Lukaku with a low cross, but it’s never finding him. Chelsea are causing City a few problems, although they’ve yet to achieve anything in the final third.
19 min: Lukaku is finding some good positions, hovering around City’s defence, waiting for the long pass in the hope of breaking clear. He nearly spins Stones again, but the defender stands firm this time.
17 min: Sterling dribbles into the Chelsea box from the right. Sarr comes across and crunches him with a perfectly judged tackle. Foden claims for a penalty, but it was a fine challenge. Nothing comes of the resulting corner.
16 min: City pass and probe in the patient style.
14 min: From the resulting corner, Stones heads straight at Kepa. Chelsea counter, and Ziyech has the opportunity to send Lukaku clear with a simple pass down the middle. He overhits woefully. Up pops Tuchel, beyond livid, effing and jeffing at his player’s lack of accuracy. That’s two big situations Chelsea have spurned already.
13 min: Sterling takes on Alonso, much as expected, and crosses deep, looking for Grealish. Azpilicueta eyebrows away, just in time.
12 min: Grealish nearly diddles Rudiger out on the left, but just as he gains a yard on his man, he runs it out for a goal kick. A few mistakes being made out there, with six points on the line, sort of.
10 min: Chelsea should be leading. Lukaku spins Stones with absurd ease and romps towards the City box. He should enter the area and slam a shot goalwards, but tries to slip Ziyech clear instead with a pass down the inside-right channel. It’s a clumsy pass, and flies out for a goal kick. Why didn’t he shoot? City were all over the place at the back.
Updated at 12.46pm GMT
9 min: Kepa very nearly has the ball taken off his toe by Foden. Not the most assured start for the Chelsea keeper.
8 min: Nothing comes of the resulting free kick. Expect Sterling to do plenty of probing down the right flank now.
7 min: Sterling skins Alonso down the right and is cynically clipped by the Chelsea left back. He goes in the book, and it’s going to be a long afternoon now.
6 min: Walker has already given the ball away a couple of times. This is his first Premier League start since getting himself stupidly sent off against Leipzig in the Champions League, so he’ll be in the process of shaking off some rust.
5 min: Kepa redeems himself by plucking the corner from the sky. No fuss this time.
4 min: Yet another long pass, this time by Laporte down the left for Grealish. Kepa races out of his box to clear, but only manages to shin it into his own player, Azpilicueta. He’s fortunate that the resulting ricochet flies wide left of the unguarded goal. First corner of the match coming up.
Updated at 12.40pm GMT
2 min: ... and now De Bruyne nearly releases Silva down the left. Azpilicueta was on point and intercepts. A determined start by the champions.
1 min: Stones plays a simple long pass down the middle and very nearly releases Sterling. Chelsea almost caught snoozing.
Here we go, then. Chelsea get the ball rolling ... but only after everyone takes a knee. A gesture met with firm approval. There’s no room for racism.
The teams are out. They’re blue, ba-da-be, City wearing sky, Chelsea royal. Anticipation and excitement crackling around the Etihad. We’ll be off in a couple of minutes!
Thomas Tuchel has a word with BT. “Even if we had everybody available, it can never be a must-win game at the Etihad. Let’s respect what City is in the moment, they are very strong, and let’s be realistic about us, but we are up for the game and will try to find solutions to win. We will hunt them down and make them under-perform. There is a lot to do.”
Pre-match entertainment. Here’s Barney Ronay on the special stuff that gives City their edge: extreme competence.
Pep Guardiola talks to BT Sport. “Thomas Tuchel changes the shape in many games, sometimes during games. They will be more aggressive than they were at Stamford Bridge, because he said that in the press conference! They will be more aggressive in their build-up, and in all departments. They have top quality up front. It is a huge challenge, they are European champions, we know that. But we will try to do a good performance and deserve to win.”
The state of play. Chelsea don’t quite need a miracle yet, but they do need a win. Should City prevail this lunchtime, you’d expect the Premier League trophy to stay put at the Etihad. Liverpool will presumably be watching with interest, more in hope than expectation.
This is, of course, a game between the champions of England and the champions of Europe. It’s also a replay of last year’s Champions League final. A reminder of that, should you require one, and/or fancy reliving it.
City make four changes to the starting XI sent out at Arsenal a fortnight ago. Kyle Walker, John Stones, Jack Grealish and Phil Foden return; Ruben Dias, Nathan Ake, Riyad Mahrez and Gabriel Jesus drop out.
Chelsea make five changes to the team named for the League Cup semi-final second leg against Spurs. Marcos Alonso, Thiago Silva, N’Golo Kante, Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech take the places of Andreas Christensen, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Jorginho, Mason Mount and Timo Werner.
Manchester City: Ederson, Walker, Stones, Laporte, Joao Cancelo, De Bruyne, Rodri, Bernardo Silva, Sterling, Grealish, Foden.
Subs: Dias, Gundogan, Gabriel Jesus, Steffen, Fernandinho, Mbete-Tabu, McAtee, Lavia, Wilson-Esbrand.
Chelsea: Arrizabalaga, Sarr, Thiago Silva, Rudiger, Azpilicueta, Kante, Kovacic, Alonso, Ziyech, Pulisic, Lukaku.
Subs: Jorginho, Werner, Loftus-Cheek, Bettinelli, Saul, Barkley, Mount, Hudson-Odoi, Havertz.
Referee: Craig Pawson (South Yorkshire).
In which Chelsea desperately try to keep the title race alive. Kick off is at 12.30pm. It’s on!