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5 talking points as Man City issue strong title race statement with Chelsea win


Manchester City were at their dominant best as they unpicked Chelsea to win 3-1 at Stamford Bridge and move to four points off the Premier League summit with one game in hand.

Ilkay Gundogan finished a well-worked team move as the visitors took the lead in the 18th minute, before Phil Foden doubled the advantage three minutes later.

Kevin De Bruyne added a third after the half-hour mark, capping an incisive counter-attack set in motion by Raheem Sterling.

The visitors continued their dominance in the second half and had little trouble seeing out the victory, despite Callum Hudson-Odoi netting an added-time consolation goal for the Blues.

City may have been hit by coronavirus in the week but they didn’t show it against Chelsea, outwitting Frank Lampard’s side with a fluid attacking set-up and steadfast defensive performance.

Here are five talking points from Stamford Bridge.

1. Foden stars for fluid City



Foden’s sublime finish doubled City’s advantage in the 21st minute

Phil Foden didn’t take long to capitalise on what was only his second Premier League start since mid-October.

The Englishman excelled on the left flank when City had possession, feeding Ilkay Gundogan in the build-up to the opening goal before scoring himself with a deft finish three minutes later.

But his work off the ball also caught the eye. When City lost the ball, they dropped into a 4-4-2 with Foden and Kevin De Bruyne – who also grabbed an assist and a goal – leading the press.

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Foden relished the role and his impressive positioning helped nullify Chelsea’s attempts to play out from the back, setting the tone for what was an impressive defensive performance by City.

The 20-year-old was desparate to make the most of a rare start and was visibly furious with himself after heading over the bar late in the first half.

2. Chelsea poor across the park



Chelsea had no response to De Bruyne’s brilliance

Timo Werner will likely be the player singled out for criticism as another ineffectual performance saw his goal drought extend to 12 games.

But the German forward should not take the heat for what was a poor Chelsea performance across the board.

Defender Thiago Silva was easily turned by Ilkay Gundogan for the first goal and his efforts were found wanting again as Phil Foden doubled Manchester City’s advantage.

Goalkeeper Edouard Mendy will also be disappointed by how he was beaten for both goals, while Chelsea’s midfield was bypassed time and time again.

N’Golo Kante endured a particularly tough evening against Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling, picking up a yellow card for a challenge on the latter before his substitution just after the hour mark.

A heavy defeat to City is especially concerning because the Blues were close to full strength, with Hakim Ziyech returning to the line-up and Reece James the only first-team regular missing through injury.

3. City continue fine defensive record



Gundogan scored the opener and was industrious in midfield for resolute City

They say defences win titles, and Manchester City’s is the finest in the Premier League by some distance.

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A 3-1 win at Chelsea extends City’s fine run to just two goals conceded in seven top-flight games.

The visitors were almost entirely untroubled against Chelsea even in the absence of starting goalkeeper Ederson and full-back Kyle Walker through coronavirus.

The blossoming partnership of John Stones and Ruben Dias stood firm once again, while accomplished performances by midfielders Rodri and Ilkay Gundogan meant the backline was never exposed.

Back-up shot-stopper Zack Steffen only had to make one save and Callum Hudson-Odoi’s added-time goal only served as a slither of consolation for Chelsea.

City’s performance was dominant and professional, and it serves as a warning to their title rivals.

4. Pressure on Lampard grows



Lampard finds himself under pressure as we approach the season’s midpoint

While Manchester City’s defence has emerged as the finest in the Premier League, Chelsea’s has declined after an impressive start to the season.

Against City, the Blues conceded three first-half goals in a Premier League game at Stamford Bridge for only the second time in their history.

They were unpicked by Phil Foden’s running and Kevin De Bruyne’s masterful through-balls – and the result places Lampard under greater pressure.

Chelsea have managed just one win in their last six games, losing four of those to slip from title contenders to eighth place in a matter of weeks.

Lampard must find solutions quickly.

5. Tributes paid to Docherty



Both sides paid tribute to Docherty before kick-off

Before kick-off, Chelsea and Manchester City players remembered the Blues’ former player and manager Tommy Docherty, who died aged 92 this week.

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Docherty had a brief spell as a right half for Chelsea before taking over in the Stamford Bridge hot seat and going on to lead the club to the League Cup in 1965.

The Scot also had a strong connection with Manchester, guiding City’s cross-town rivals United to FA Cup glory in 1977.

Docherty’s legacy at Chelsea was on show on Sunday evening, as his decision to change the club’s shorts from white to blue lasts to this day.

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