Manchester City took another major step towards the Premier League title with one of their most dominant performances of the entire season. And how great it is that they did it against defending champions Chelsea at the Etihad. Bernardo Silva scored the only goal of the night, but the 1-0 scoreline does not tell the whole story.
Simply put, this is the story: Chelsea looked like a relegation side against the undisputed best team in England and there is no doubt Pep Guardiola and his men will win the title.
From the very first minute City established their dominance in the match and made it clear they were not going to stop going after Chelsea until they got a goal. Antonio Conte decided to set his team up in a VERY defensive way, with a 5-4-1 formation that left Eden Hazard isolated up top without any chance to attack a City backline that had virtually nothing to do.
What Chelsea did do well in the first half was defend. With nine men and their goalkeeper behind the ball at all times, the Blues were determined to never leave any space between their lines and make it tough for City to break them down. The only real scoring chance of the entire first half came when Kevin De Bruyne played a free kick into the box, Leroy Sané controlled the ball and fired a shot that was cleared off the line by César Azpilicueta.
At halftime, City were the clear dominant force but still needed a goal to show for it.
City took just 36 seconds to find the goal in the second half, with a great team move from kickoff that ended with Sergio Agüero finding David Silva, who then found Bernardo Silva for the opening goal as the Portuguese winger anticipated Marcos Alonso and flicked the ball past Thibaut Courtois to put City ahead.
Conceding such an early goal ruined Antonio Conte’s plans for the second half and forced Chelsea to attack more, but here’s the weird part: they didn’t. The visitors remained more than comfortable with keeping their shape and playing negative football without sending any bodies forward to help Hazard create chances.
It took Conte until the 78th minute to put Olivier Giroud in the game and try to play some long balls into the French striker, but Nicolas Otamendi and Aymeric Laporte dealt very well with the substitute and Chelsea were still not able to create any danger. Even with Álvaro Morata on the pitch, the away side could not put together any real offense and their only half-chance came with a long-distance shot from Alonso that never really troubled Ederson in goal.
The final whistle came, and Pep Guardiola and his players celebrated the win as if it had secured the title. And even though City still need four wins to lift the trophy, beating the champions in such dominant fashion is proof that City are indeed the best team in England this season.
Man City: Ederson; Walker, Otamendi, Laporte, Zinchenko (Danilo); De Bruyne, Gundogan, Silva (Foden); Bernardo, Agüero (Jesus), Sané
Goals: Bernardo (46’)
Chelsea: Courtois; Moses, Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rüdiger, Alonso; Willian (Giroud), Fàbregas, Drinkwater, Pedro (Emerson); Hazard (Morata)