Man City not perfect at Chelsea but still cut gap to Arsenal
LONDON — Riyad Mahrez got here off the bench to internet a 63rd-minute winner as Manchester City beat Chelsea 1-0 at Stamford Bridge on Thursday to shut the gap on Premier League leaders Arsenal to 5 factors
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Substitute Carney Chukwuemeka hit the submit towards the tip of a primary half brief on goalmouth motion. Just after the hour mark, a flowing transfer ended with two City substitutes combining as Jack Grealish’s cross drifted shut to Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga but still discovered Mahrez for a tap-in at the far submit.
The end result leaves Graham Potter’s aspect languishing in tenth place within the desk forward of the 2 sides assembly once more in Sunday’s FA Cup third-round tie at Etihad Stadium.
JUMP TO: Player ratings | Best/worst performers | Highlights and notable moments | Postmatch quotes | Key stats | Upcoming fixtures
1. City not perfect but adequate as Potter’s issues develop
Pep Guardiola claimed Manchester City would have to be “almost perfect” to catch Arsenal at the highest of the desk, but they had been nowhere close to that on Thursday, but still cut the deficit to 5 factors. City regarded unusually disjointed within the first half, taking greater than half an hour to register their first shot of the sport — their longest wait in a Premier League recreation since October 2018. Perhaps the stakes performed an element, or the sheer quantity of soccer since home play resumed following the World Cup, but City hardly ever acquired out of second gear and but had been still ready to inflict a fifth defeat in eight video games throughout all competitions on their hosts.
Potter is not underneath any imminent menace by way of his job, but Chelsea stay in tenth place, 10 factors behind fourth-placed Manchester United. The membership’s new homeowners, Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital, have been adamant that Potter will likely be given time to stamp his authority on the squad, having solely been appointed in September, but the membership spent greater than £270 million on summer season transfers, and as they put together to make investments closely once more, a extra good-looking return on that outlay will likely be anticipated. Chelsea have taken simply three factors in opposition to groups at the moment within the prime half of the desk.
2. Injury issues mount for Chelsea …
Mason Mount was lacking from the beginning lineup after choosing up a knock in coaching, and inside the first 22 minutes right here, Chelsea had two extra accidents to take care of as Raheem Sterling and Christian Pulisic limped off. Potter was all the time seemingly to rotate for Sunday’s FA Cup tie in opposition to the identical opponents, but the necessity to relaxation gamers for the additional Premier League fixture they’ve to squeeze in in opposition to Fulham subsequent Thursday will likely be heightened by the general harm image.
Wesley Fofana, Armando Broja, Reece James, Ben Chilwell and N’Golo Kante are all already lacking, but at least Benoit Badiashile was within the stands subsequent to Boehly right here, recent from finishing a €37m transfer from AS Monaco earlier within the day. He could be wanted ahead of best at this charge.
Chelsea are actively trying to strengthen within the January switch window, persevering with talks with Benfica over midfielder Enzo Fernandez, and negotiations are anticipated to happen with Shakhtar Donetsk director of soccer Darijo Srna over a deal for winger Mykhailo Mudryk. The staff’s present plight, mixed with the variety of gamers absent, will solely heighten the strain on the membership to act decisively out there.
3. … as City’s bench makes the distinction
There was a passing resemblance to the 2021 Champions League last within the first half as Guardiola was in peril of overcomplicating his lineup as occurred that evening in Porto. City operated with a again three in possession as Joao Cancelo was utilised in a complicated right-sided function. Bernardo Silva and Kevin De Bruyne usually came visiting to that flank in try to overload Chelsea, but greater than something, the gamers regarded unable to discover house within the method City so usually handle higher than anybody else.
In the tip, Guardiola’s changes labored the oracle as Manuel Akanji and Rico Lewis got here on at the interval to give City higher steadiness earlier than Grealish and Mahrez had been launched on the hour mark, combining for the successful aim simply three minutes later. There was even time for £45m signing Kalvin Phillips to be sure that of issues late on.
By distinction, Potter opted for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang when Sterling was pressured off. Chelsea have privately insisted Aubameyang was all the time a most popular goal whatever the supervisor (he arrived lower than every week earlier than Thomas Tuchel, whom he thrived underneath at Borussia Dortmund, was sacked) but the 33-year-old was a peripheral determine and was subbed off with Chelsea needing a aim. Potter launched Chukwuemeka, a extremely rated but inexperienced teenager, Conor Gallagher and two extra children in Omari Hutchinson (who was making his senior debut) and Lewis Hall.
The distinction between City’s firepower and Chelsea’s reliance on youth was marked.
Chelsea: Kepa Arrizabalaga 6, Cesar Azpilicueta 6, Thiago Silva 6, Kalidou Koulibaly 7, Marc Cucurella 6, Denis Zakaria 7, Mateo Kovacic 7, Hakim Ziyech 6, Christian Pulisic 6, Raheem Sterling 5, Kai Havertz 6
Subs: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 5, Carney Chukwuemeka 7, Omari Hutchinson 6, Lewis Hall 6, Conor Gallagher 6
Manchester City: Ederson 6, Kyle Walker 5, John Stones 8, Nathan Ake 7, Joao Cancelo 6, Ilkay Gundogan 7, Rodri 6, Kevin De Bruyne 7, Bernardo Silva 6, Phil Foden 5, Erling Haaland 6
Subs: Manuel Akanji 6, Rico Lewis 6, Riyad Mahrez 7, Jack Grealish 7, Kalvin Phillips 6
Best and worst performers
Best performer: John Stones, Manchester City. Was a commanding presence at the again, producing a wonderful early deal with to deny Pulisic. Won seven of his eight duels total.
Worst performer: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Chelsea. Subbed on within the fifth minute, subbed off within the 68th after 14 touches, no photographs and subsequently a person xG of 0.00.
Highlights and notable moments
Chelsea’s attacking ranks are starting to look fairly skinny.
Chelsea’s harm woes proceed 😬 pic.twitter.com/7tc4KGtaP9
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) January 5, 2023
After the match: What the gamers/managers stated
Guardiola: “We didn’t play good in the first half. I said thank you to Cancelo for his effort, playing in not his usual position, but we decided to go with a lineup where our players could adapt on the pitch if they decided to go five at the back. In the second half, we were miles, miles better in every department. It’s a big result for us.”
Potter on the strain mounting on him: “You always have to take responsibility, but you hope people look at the whole context and see where we are and what we have had to deal with, but at the same time emotions are high and you have to try and ride out any storm and try to stay level. The crowd were behind the team and could see them doing everything.”
Key stats (supplied by ESPN Stats & Information analysis)
– It took Man City 32 minutes and three seconds to report their first shot, the longest it is taken the membership to report a shot in a recreation underneath Guardiola since Oct. 7, 2018, in a Premier League match in opposition to Liverpool (38 minutes).
– Prior to Thursday, the final time Mahrez scored a Premier League aim away from the Etihad was Jan. 1, 2022, at Arsenal.
Chelsea and Manchester City will not have to wait very lengthy for a rematch, as they’re set to sq. off in lower than 72 hours. The sides will meet within the FA Cup third spherical at the Etihad on Sunday (11:30 a.m. ET, stream dwell on ESPN+).