• Karel L.

City defeats Chelsea and is one step closer to the title

City managed to take the victory after a difficult match against Chelsea. Guardiola's team is now 13 points ahead of its closest competitor.

The analysis

Prior to the game and due to the large number of COVID infections that have occurred lately in the league, many of the fans of both teams were worried about whether or not this game would be played, fortunately for all of us everything went ahead, although without some players.

However, Guardiola did not want to reveal who they were and to tell the truth that is not important, because whoever they are, we wish them a speedy recovery.

On the subject of the lineup, the truth is that it seemed pretty solid, although it was strange that Rúben was not starting in such an important match, but it is understandable since according to several media he was not fully fit.

That said, something that continues to surprise me every time we play against Chelsea is that despite the quality of their squad, they are a team that when they have City in front of them, they prefer to wait in their own half and counterattack instead of proposing the game.

In fact, their greatest attempts to bother City were based on high pressing, something that in recent matches has clearly not worked against us, because even in tight games it is something that helps us to create space thanks to Ederson's good touch of the ball.

Going into the tactical side of the game, I would like to highlight Foden, who as a false 9 has the ability to appear all over the field. Sometimes he is in the midfield, sometimes on the wings, sometimes in the box, etc. and all this helps defenders to get lost and distracted, giving Bernardo the opportunity to occupy certain spaces and get into more dangerous areas.

Another detail to highlight is that City repeated the model that has worked for them in recent games, and I mean that when attacking, they left the 2 center backs as the only defenders behind and moved both Cancelo and Walker forward to play closer to Rodri as support so that everyone else could play with more freedom upfront.

When it came to defending, the picture changed, as Foden returned to support in the recovery, which gave Rodri the confidence to drop back a little further and position himself almost as a third center back.

In addition to this, I must say that City's high pressing worked perfectly, especially with Sarr, who, not being a central defender so used to playing this kind of games, ended up losing the ball.

For the second half, Chelsea gained more confidence, took more risks, and sent Lukaku to press and fight physically with the center backs, which initially caused problems but after a few minutes was solved.

Having said that, and before moving on to the negative, I want to emphasize a player that, while I will mention later, it is also fair to talk about him in this section and that is Raheem Sterling.

Over the years he has been criticized a lot because when it comes to making decisions he is not usually the best, but the reality is that the guy is starting to improve in that aspect, he begins to mature, to understand the game better, and to make the best decision every time he takes the ball, so he becomes essential for the team to play well and generate in the attack.

Now and finally, as always, I think we must highlight the less favorable points, and one of them is that as I have insisted many times when Kevin and Bernardo are together in midfield, one ends up canceled out by the other, and in this case, it happened to Silva. Although on the right flank he generated some dangerous play with Sterling, the reality is that his contribution to the attack since the Belgian returned has been reduced to a minimum. In fact, when he was at his best on the pitch, it was precisely when De Bruyne came off and Gundogan came on.

Furthermore, also as I have highlighted other times, there is the issue of substitutions. At this point, I understand that there are many games left to play and that we have to take care of the players, but I still find it incredible that our coach waits until the 80th minute to modify his lineup.

Key moments

The match was marked by 3 important moments.

- 39' Missed opportunity by Grealish: This action is important because although we ended up winning the game, at that moment we did not know what the final result would be, that is why missing a one-on-one against the rival goalkeeper is necessary to highlight.

- 47' Ederson's save: Chelsea started the second half well and as a result, had the first (and only) serious chance in front of goal early in the second half. At this moment Lukaku was alone in front of Ederson and the Brazilian made an incredible save.

- - 70' Kevin's goal: This is important for obvious reasons. Beating Chelsea who are a leading contender for the title was vital and would not have been possible without De Bruyne.

Players of the Match

As expected, the man of the match could not be other than De Bruyne, the Belgian was in charge of distributing the ball throughout the match and setting the tempo, in addition to returning to that level where he is essential for us to win. As if that wasn't enough, he also scored and gave us the victory, so we are getting closer and closer to being champions.

Rodri is another player without whom none of this would be possible. The guy is the best defensive midfielder in the world at the moment, he recovers every possible ball, and also every pass seems to be remote-controlled because he doesn't miss a single one.

Finally, there is Sterling, who when he is at this level becomes fundamental to the team as he defends, passes, attacks, creates chances, etc. There is no doubt that when he is confident he becomes one of the best in the league.

Post-match reactions

· Pep Guardiola emphasized how good Kevin is. "He knows what he can do, he's incredibly beloved from all of us. A lot of prizes and he can behave, he's completely different. His mum and dad can be so proud." [via @btsportfootball/@_joebray]

· In addition, our coach highlighted the good performance of our opponents. “We can't forget the team we played. European champion. And on the touchline you realise how incredible they are. They wait for the transition to punish us. How good they defend, we create enough chances to win. We had the intention to win the game from minute one.” [via @ManCity]

· Finally, he highlighted how well the team defended in both games against Chelsea. “In 180 minutes this season, we conceded one shot against this team [Chelsea]. I saw the games against Liverpool and Tottenham, they are an outstanding team. So to be able to control them is so difficult. We knew the duels. These are fantastic team.” [via @ManCity]

Who's next?

Manchester City will face Southampton next Saturday.