Manchester City opened up a 13 point lead at the top of the table with a tight but deserved 1-0 win at home to second-placed Chelsea on Saturday afternoon.
The Premier League’s leading duo played out a precarious contest with each side abundantly aware of the threat either could offer one another.
The hosts enjoyed an expected dominance of possession but Chelsea held a high starting position off the ball to begin the match, blocking off City’s passing lanes rather than tearing around the pitch. Romelu Lukaku even had the game’s first chance, dumping John Stones to the turf and driving through a Ruben Dias-less defence but passed up the option to shoot.
That would prove one of the few openings Chelsea had to pull the trigger in a half which ended without the visitors attempting a single shot.
City grew into the match, gradually forcing Chelsea deeper and deeper – but were frustrated by the visitors’ clogged rearguard. It took a mistake from Mateo Kovacic, as Chelsea were finally caught out by City’s high press, to tee up Jack Grealish on the cusp of half-time. However, Kepa Arrizabalaga managed to just about contort his body to tip Grealish’s scuffed effort around the post.
Chelsea belatedly warmed the gloves of an underworked Ederson following the interval. Kovacic slid Lukaku through on goal, but City’s Brazilian custodian reacted quickly enough to beat away Chelsea’s first attempt of the match.
After an eight day rest – compared to Chelsea’s three – City maintained their intensity off the ball. Kevin De Bruyne forced Kepa into a hurried clearance in the 70th-minute which City swiftly collected on halfway and rattled back to their captain for the day. Evading the lunge of N’Golo Kante, De Bruyne drove to the edge of Chelsea’s box, bending in a superbly taken opening goal.