Manchester City have likely ended any hopes Chelsea had of winning the Premier League, beating the Blues 1-0 on Saturday to push their lead atop the table to 13 points. City, in winning their eighth game in a row in all competitions and 12th straight in the league, got a second-half winner off a brilliant strike from Kevin de Bruyne in a match where Thomas Tuchel's team could do next to nothing.
The victors dominated the ball and the chances, producing six shots on goal while Chelsea managed only one. American Christian Pulisic got the start for the visitors but was rarely involved in a mistake-filled match that lacked creativity from the reigning Champions League winners.
Here's the winning goal:
City now have 56 points and a 13-point lead with 16 games remaining.
Here are three takeaways from the match:
Manchester City have pretty much won the title
Manchester City may not have both hands around the trophy, but they surely have one at this point and their second is closing in. With a 13-point lead and inconsistency from both Chelsea and Liverpool, it feels like those two will need a minor miracle. Liverpool do have two games in hand and could, in theory, cut the lead t eight, but even then a comeback feels unlikely.
In a time where fleeting spurts of consistency are all that's possible for most clubs, City constantly have it. It hasn't been dominant lately, winning their last three league games by just a goal, but they've managed to grind out results that maybe didn't seem likely. From a dramatic comeback at Arsenal last time out, to getting a goal in a game that felt likely to end in a draw here, City continue to show why in England, nobody comes close.
Ederson was asked to do one thing and did it brilliantly
City's Brazilian goalkeeper Ederson had next to nothing to do, but when called upon, he was ready. In the first half, it felt like he could have sat next to the goal and enjoyed a cup of tea if he wanted to, with Chelsea not just failing to knock on the door -- they weren't even in the neighborhood. From Romelu Lukaku's miss timed throughball to Hakim Ziyech to generally poor combination play in the middle, it was as easy of a first half as Ederson will see, with everything for Chelsea breaking down before it troubled his net. Not only did Ederson not have to deal with a single shot on goal, Chelsea didn't even take a single attempt at all.
But in the second, there was one glaring moment where he had to come up big. Lukaku got through in a lapse by the City defense, and a curling goal to the far post seemed likely. That's when the former Benfica man pounced with a brilliant save to his right to deny Chelsea their best chance of the entire match. That shot, Lukaku's only of the match, was worth 0.36 xG. Chelsea, in total, only had 0.56 xG total on the day.
With all that it took for the Blues to threaten just once, it didn't feel like a second was coming, and it never did. City's defensive dominance would have bee for nothing if Ederson hadn't seized his moment, but showed he was ready, delivering a crucial save on the way to three points.
Pulisic didn't earn more minutes here
Pulisic got a surprise start, and it wasn't at wing back. The issue was, he might have been able to make more of an impact there. Pulisic lasted almost 70 minutes, and while his passing in general was solid, he never got into the match in what felt like over an hour wasted. Here's his statline:
- 69 minutes played
- 26 touches
- 84.2 percent pass completion
- xA of 0.01
- xG of 0.00
- Zero shots
Not once did he get through on goal, not once was he able to find the feet of a teammate in a dangerous spot, and rarely did he get the chance to even attempt a run close to the box to draw a set piece. Part of it was the game plan and the poor execution by Chelsea, but also City bossed the match for the most part, resulting in fewer opportunities to do much for the Londoners.
With a chance to earn more minutes going forward, Pulisic could not take advantage, but that is partially because his team also failed to do so in what was their second worst match of the season in terms of chances created with only three. This was also just the third time this league season where they failed to score.