Manchester City extended their lead at the top of the table to 13 points with a hard-fought but well-deserved 1-0 victory over second-placed Chelsea on Saturday afternoon.
The Premier League’s top two sides battled it out in a precarious contest, with each side acutely aware of the threat the other posed.
The hosts dominated possession as expected, but Chelsea took an early lead off the ball, halting off City’s passing lanes rather than tearing around the pitch. Romelu Lukaku had the game’s first opportunity, dumping John Stones to the turf and driving through a Ruben Dias-less defense, but opted not to shoot.
That would prove to be one of the few opportunities Chelsea had to score in a half that ended with the visitors failing to attempt a single shot.
City gradually gained control of the match, pressing Chelsea deeper and deeper – but were frustrated by Chelsea’s clogged rearguard. Mateo Kovacic’s error, as Chelsea were finally exposed by City’s high press, set up Jack Grealish on the stroke of half-time. Kepa Arrizabalaga, however, contorted his body just enough to tip Grealish’s scuffed effort around the post.
Following the break, Chelsea warmed the gloves of an overworked Ederson. Lukaku was put through on goal by Kovacic, but City’s Brazilian goalkeeper reacted soon enough to save Chelsea’s first attempt of the game.
City maintained their effort off the ball after an eight-day layoff, compared to Chelsea’s three.
In the 70th minute, Kevin De Bruyne pushed Kepa into a hasty clearance, which City quickly gathered on halfway and rattled back to their captain for the day. De Bruyne evaded N’Golo Kante’s lunge and surged to the edge of Chelsea’s box, curling in an excellent first goal.
Chelsea huffed and puffed, but City held the European champions at bay in a win that pushes them into first position.