City makes a strong statement in Premier League title race

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Manchester City defender Paul Walker passes the ball in their game against Chelsea. Image courtesy of Manchester City

High profile clashes in soccer always have a lot of build up in the days leading to the game. The hype is so high that it can difficult for a game to live up to it. Luckily, the game between Chelsea and Manchester City did.

The Chelsea starting line-up was: Thibaut Courtouis, Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen, Gary Cahill, Cesar Azpilicueta, N’Golo Kante, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Marcos Alonso, Eden Hazard, Cesc Fabregas, Alvaro Morata.
The Manchester City starting line-up was: Ederson Moraes, Kyle Walker, John Stones, Nicolas Otamendi, Fabian Delph, Kevin de Bruyne, Fernandinho, David Silva, Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus, Leroy Sane.

The venue being Chelsea’s home Stamford Bridge and their new acquisition Alvaro Morata in hot form, the match-up was a bit favored to Chelsea. The opening of the game lived up to that expectation. A good cross from the right flank gave Morata the chance to put Chelsea ahead in the third minute, but his header went wide of the mark.

That seemed to be a wakeup call for City, as after that, the team from Manchester began to garner steam and make life difficult for the hosts. Losing Morata to injury in the thirty-fifth minute didn’t help Chelsea’s cause in any way.
All the pressure culminated into the best chance of the half right before half-time when City midfielder Fernandinho headed a corner in the direction of the goal, but Chelsea goalkeeper Courtois matched it with an equally good save to keep the scores level at the halfway mark.

In the second half, Chelsea had the first whiff at goal as Eden Hazard shot at goal after a quickly taken free kick resulted in a pass to him in the final third. But City goalkeeper Moraes, much like his counterpart, was ready to handle anything thrown at him and kept Hazard out.

The breakthrough came in the sixty-seventh minute, thanks to a stroke of genius from City midfielder Kevin de Bruyne. After a neat exchange of passes, de Bruyne ran past a couple of Chelsea players and drilled the ball into the goal with his left foot, especially impressive since he’s a righty. Chelsea did have an opportunity in the eighty-ninth minute when Christensen could have headed in a free kick, but it just wasn’t meant to be Chelsea’s day.

Manchester City now tops the table along with their neighbors Manchester United.

City beat Chelsea 0-1 in their own backyard, a task which is definitely not easy to accomplish and they did it without their talismanic striker Sergio Aguero, who was out injured.

It’s a sign that Pep Guardioa’s side is maturing into a Premier League winning team and that if anyone else wants to stake their claim on the trophy, they will have to do it the hard way.