De Bruyne Beauty Sends City 13 Points Clear Of Chelsea  (Sky Sports)

Manchester City 1 Chelsea 0

Kevin De BruyneA superb goal from Kevin De Bruyne decided the contest between the Premier League's top two on Saturday and seemingly the destination of the championship, with Manchester City's 1-0 win over Chelsea moving them 13 points clear at the summit.

It was a game which had been billed as the last chance for Chelsea - and third-placed Liverpool - to keep the defending champions in sight but City were dominant, pinning their visitors back in their own half for long periods and they eventually produced the moment of quality to extend their remarkable winning streak in the league to 12 matches.

De Bruyne - famously sold on by Chelsea - spun away from N'Golo Kante on 70 minutes and bent a brilliant, trademark swerving shot inside the far post from 20 yards, his fifth goal against his former club.

City should have been ahead well before then, with Jack Grealish spurning a glorious opening after Mateo Kovacic had been caught in possession by De Bruyne. City's £100m man clipped his shot straight at the on-rushing Kepa five minutes before half-time, and still has just two Premier League goals to his name since his record-breaking summer transfer.

Team news

Man City had an all English attack, with Jack Grealish, Phil Foden and Raheem Sterling coming in but Ruben Dias was surprisingly on the bench, with John Stones and Aymeric Laporte at centre back. Riyad Mahrez is away at AFCON.

Chelsea made five changes from Thursday’s win over Tottenham, with Thiago Silva, N’Golo Kante back from Covid isolations, and Marcos Alonso, Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech also given the nod. Mason Mount, Timo Werner, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Jorginho dropped to the bench, with Andreas Christensen out with Covid. Kepa continued in goal with Edouard Mendy at AFCON.

Chelsea defended well but didn't have a shot in the first half, the first time that has happened in the Premier League under Thomas Tuchel. However, they had three in the opening four minutes of the second, with Romelu Lukaku drawing a fine stop from Ederson from his own one-on-one chance.

But the Belgian - who had powered past John Stones in the opening minutes - was too often starved of good service, with Hakim Ziyech and Marcos Alonso culpable of overhitting passes in brief moments when Chelsea looked like they could open up the best defence in the division.

Player ratings

Man City: Ederson (7), Walker (7), Laporte (7), Stones (6), Cancelo (7), Rodri (7), De Bruyne (9), Silva (7), Grealish (6), Foden (7), Sterling (7).

Subs: Gundogan (N/A), Gabriel Jesus (N/A)

Chelsea: Kepa (7), Rudiger (7), Silva (7), Sarr (6), Azpilicueta (6), Alonso (5), Kovacic (5), Kante (7), Pulisic (5), Ziyech (5), Lukaku (5).

Subs: Werner (6), Hudson-Odoi (6), Mount (N/A)

Man of the match: Kevin De Bruyne (Man City)

In many ways, the game was similar to City's win at Stamford Bridge in September, with Tuchel constantly urging his smothered side to try to push up, but while he had spoken about not playing so deep this time, doing so isn't easy against Pep Guardiola's slick City team who bring intensity in and out of possession.

Chelsea got the better of City in last season's Champions League final but it would now take something extraordinary for them or Liverpool to prevent Guardiola making it four Premier League titles in the past five seasons.

Guardiola: We were incredible - but you don't win the title in January!

Pep Guardiola refused to get carried away with Man City's title chances, despite them moving 13 points clear at the top of the Premier League table - but he was happy to pour praise on his side after their win over Chelsea.

"The team were incredible, brilliant," he told BT Sport. "The way we played, everything we have done... We cannot forget the team we played against; they are European champions. When you are there on the touchline you realise how incredible they are. You try to find spaces, but they're not there."

He continued in his press conference: "I know how difficult they are, how well they defend and how well we played. They defended collectively amazing and we beat them on one transition.

"All players gave everything. Important victory because we're playing against a big contender."

Discussing the gap at the top and the importance of beating a title rival, he added: "When you get three points they can't get three points and it's one week less. But in January no one is champion. Liverpool have a game in hand [after Sunday's match against Brentford]. If they win against Leeds it's eight points and eight points in January is nothing.

"The players will keep their feet on the ground. I know them. We've been together six seasons. I know the competitors they are and how they celebrate the good moments, suffer the bad ones and how we behave in all these games this year.

"Of course people are going to say 'it's over' but they know it's not over. In January that's impossible. But 12 games in a row, winning, winning, winning. But there's not just the Premier League, there's the Champions League, the FA Cup, many titles still.

"But from 180 minutes against the European champions we conceded one shot on target."

Tuchel: We deserved a draw; Lukaku and attackers needed more precision

Thomas Tuchel refused to be too critical of his side after the defeat, pointing out that Chelsea had beaten City in similarly low-scoring games last season. But he did concede that "a lack of precision" in forward areas had been costly.

"The result is disappointing, yes, but this can happen when you play at City. I think we deserved a draw, we defended very well, didn't concede many big chances. There was one in the first half from a big mistake from us," he told BT Sport.

"Performance-wise was OK. Commitment-wise I'm absolutely OK with the performance, especially given we had to change our back three. We deserved a draw, it would have been a fair result, but we don't have it. We have won games like this against City, that's the way it is.

"We had eight or nine offensive transitions [in the first half] and zero touches in the box. That was a big problem today, offensive-wise, the performance of the front players. That was down to a lack of precision, timing, and composure. At a level like this, we lost too many balls too easily.

"[Was Lukaku getting enough service?] Sometimes he needs to do the service. He's included, he had many ball losses without any pressure and in very promising circumstances. He had a huge chance. He is included, we want to serve him but he is part of the team.

"The performance up front, we can do much, much better and we need to do better.

"[Is the title race over?] It is not my question to answer. We will never give up, but if City keeps on winning every game, nobody can catch them."

What's next?

Manchester City are back in action next Saturday against Southampton, live on Sky Sports from 5pm; kick-off 5.30pm. Chelsea are away to Brighton on Tuesday night in an 8pm kick-off.


Manchester City Ederson, Walker, Stones, Laporte, Cancelo, Rodrigo, De Bruyne (c) (Gundogan 84), Silva, Sterling, Foden (Jesus 88), Grealish
Subs Not Used Steffen, Dias, Fernandinho, Mbete, McAtee, Lavia, Wilson-Esbrand
De Bruyne 70

Chelsea Kepa, Azpilicueta (c), Silva, Rudiger, Sarr, Alonso (Mount 81), Kante, Kovacic, Ziyech (Hudson-Odoi 69), Pulisic (Werner 69), Lukaku
Subs Not Used Bettinelli, Barkley, Jorginho, Loftus-Cheek, Saul, Havertz
Booked Alonso, Kovacic

Attendance 53,319

Referee Craig Pawson

VAR Darren England