Manchester City stretched their lead at the top of the English Premier League to 13 points with a dominant — if narrow — victory over Chelsea at the Etihad on Saturday.
A moment of magic from captain Kevin de Bruyne settled a match that at times looked like frustrating the defending champions. However his solo effort with 20 minutes proved the difference and allowed City to go claim another three points — 36 (thirty-six) from an available 36 in their past 12 games — during a winning streak that has seen them leave their title rivals in their dust since before the festive period.
Once again, City controlled the game, while their opponents set out with a defensive mindset in the hope to quell the waves of Sky Blue attacks. For the most part, this worked for Thomas Tuchel’s men, with Jack Grealish crowded out for the most part and Phil Foden hounded whenever he was on the ball.
Such is the depth in talent in the City squad, however, is that Raheem Sterling was allowed to thrive on the right and, behind the front line, Bernardo Silva and De Bruyne could patiently await the openings.
And so it proved as Belgian star De Bruyne was given space on 70 minutes and rather than whip in another pinpoint cross, he cut inside and curled a winner past Chelsea keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.
As for Chelsea, their negative set-up never really allowed the likes of Romelu Lukaku to shine and, after the breakthrough, they were lucky to keep it to 1-0 as City went for the kill. In the end, Pep Guardiola will be more than happy with a single-goal victory, the gap at the top and allow his rivals try to play catch-up.
Liverpool have two games in hand and could theoretically cut that gap to eight points if they win those matches they missed due to Covid-19 outbreaks in the squad and postponements over Christmas.
For Chelsea however, who have played the same 22 matches as City and sit in a false position in second spot in the table, one ahead of Jurgen Klopp’s Reds, the title bid everyone was raving about ahead of the campaign is in tatters and — never mind top spot — should rather be looking over their shoulders at the likes of Liverpool, West Ham, Arsenal and Tottenham, who all have games in hand over the London club.