Bernardo Silva’s goal was enough for Manchester City to secure a 1-0 win over struggling champions Chelsea and move Pep Guardiola’s side one step closer to the Premier League title.
Silva scored just a minute into the second half at the Etihad Stadium, just days after also netting against Arsenal, in a game that City dominated while Chelsea were poor and lacking confidence throughout the clash.
The win sent City 18 points clear of second-placed Liverpool, with United still to play on Monday night, while Chelsea now sit five points behind fourth-placed Tottenham, who beat Huddersfield 2-0 at home on Saturday.
Antonio Conte opted to revert back to the ‘false No.9′ set-up for the trip to face the runaway league leaders after the relative success of deploying Eden Hazard up front against Barcelona in the Champions League recently.
Conte had switched back to a 3-4-3 formation which featured Alvaro Morata as the team’s striker against Manchester United last Sunday but, after the Spaniard failed to impress in the defeat at Old Trafford, it was put to Hazard to try and be Chelsea’s main goal threat against City.
The plan, however, backfired with Hazard badly struggling up front as Guardiola’s side dominated the possession and first-half chances at the Etihad Stadium.
Indeed, Leroy Sane got past several Chelsea players all too easily in the 20th minute to set up Bernardo Silva for a chance at goal although he could only fire his shot over the bar.
Sane was then involved in City’s next chance just seven minutes later when he latched onto Kevin De Bruyne’s free-kick, cut in and sent a powerful shot toward goal which was superbly cleared off the line by Cesar Azpilicueta.
Chelsea were spending most of their time defending while Hazard, down the other end of the pitch, was getting increasingly frustrated at his lack of time on the ball – with the champions having zero shots in the first half.
But things were to become worse for Chelsea after the break – and just a minute into the second half too – when City took the lead through Bernardo Silva.
Andreas Christensen, could only send an attempted clearance to the feet of Sergio Aguero, who passed it to David Silva. The Spaniard then drove a shot across goal where Bernardo Silva was waiting to fire it past Thibaut Courtois and into the goal.
The lead was deserved for a City side who have been superb all season long, but Chelsea did have the chance to level up the score when they launched a counter-attack in the 54th minute only for Victor Moses to send a shot into the side netting – despite Marcos Alonso being free at the far post and Pedro advancing into the area.
With Chelsea struggling up front, Conte brought on Olivier Giroud and then, with a minute of the game left, Alvaro Morata.
But it was too little, too late and Chelsea suffered their fourth defeat in five games as City moved a step closer to taking the Blues’ title from their hands.