Manchester City edge Chelsea 1-0 to close gap with table-toppers Arsenal
London, UK: Manchester City began the year with a crucial win, closing the gap to Premier League leaders Arsenal to five points with a 1-0 victory against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
After a lacklustre first half, City eventually upped the ante in the second half and finally scored when two substitutes combined, with Riyad Mahrez tucking in Jack Grealish's low cross in the 63rd minute.
Arsenal's draw against Newcastle at home on Tuesday gave the defending champions, who are now in second place, the opportunity to narrow down the lead.
Chelsea did have a chance just before the end of the first half when in the 44th minute, Carney Chukwuemeka hit the post.
However, shortly after the restart, Nathan Ake headed against the goal frame for City, and the visitors deservedly went on to win the match against Chelsea for the fourth time in a row since losing the Champions League final to them in 2021.
Erling Haaland, the league's leading scorer, was denied a goal at Stamford Bridge, but it was City's 11th straight Premier League victory, aligning them for another title challenge in 2023.
With only six points from their last eight games, their worst stretch since 2010, and Raheem Sterling and Christian Pulisic limping off early on, issues are developing for Graham Potter at Chelsea, who will have the chance to respond in Sunday's FA Cup third-round match with City at the Etihad.
"The situation we're in, we need to focus on the next day or the next game. Keep together, keep the performance level we've shown today, and try to move forward. [The injuries] don't make it any easier. Raheem's was a strange one. Christian, it's a contact with his knee. Mason got a kick yesterday as well. I've never experienced anything like it and wouldn't want to experience it ideally here. But we have to carry on. The expectation is where it is, you want to have all your players available, a fully-fit squad and be able to compete. It's frustrating for everybody at the moment," said Chelsea boss Graham Potter as quoted by Sky Sports.
"It was not good first half, it was sloppy, we didn't create much, our pressing was so poor, we were not well organised and in the second half with Manu and Rico, with the quality to not just play good, to help others play better, Rico has the talent to do this. Since we came back he's playing and he's a key player for us. The impact in the second half of all four players was so important, they changed the game. In the second half, it was a completely different Man City, a different rhythm. Rico changed his dynamic from minute one," said Man City boss Pep Guardiola.