Kevin De Bruyne continues revenge mission against Chelsea as Man City move 13 points clear

Belgian midfielder scores the only goal of the game to ensure a 12th straight Premier League victory

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If it seemed Chelsea wanted a stalemate, perhaps Manchester City instead made it checkmate. As they did a double of 1-0 wins over Thomas Tuchel’s team, they registered a 12th straight Premier League victory.

MATCH INFO

Manchester City 1 Chelsea 0
De Bruyne (70')

Man of the Match: Kevin de Bruyne (Manchester City)

“Thirty six points from 36, hats off,” said City manager Pep Guardiola. City's lead in the title race is now 13 points. They look uncatchable, though Guardiola predictably disagreed. “In January no one is champion,” he said.

But, as Tuchel argued: “We won't give up, but if City keep on winning every game, nobody can catch them.” The Champions League winners have been distanced. Chelsea fans, waving plastic trophies, chorused “Where’s your European Cup?”. Memories of City’s defeat in Porto last summer remain fresh but a fourth Premier League crown in five seasons beckons, courtesy in part of one who acted as though he had unfinished business with Chelsea. This had the air of a revenge mission.

Kevin de Bruyne’s Champions League final was abruptly ended by a fearsome challenge by Antonio Rudiger. In a rematch, and not for the first time, Chelsea could lament Jose Mourinho’s reluctance to pick a young De Bruyne. A player who made two Premier League starts for them now has five goals against them, some decisive, some brilliant. This was both.

De Bruyne raced on to Joao Cancelo’s pass, shrugged off N’Golo Kante, the Champions League final man of the match who is often City’s nemesis, and whipped a shot in from 20 yards. “The goal is typical of him,” said Guardiola. Tuchel rued: “The individual quality of Kevin de Bruyne made the difference.”

In a tight, tactical affair, De Bruyne had looked as dangerous as anyone, arrowing one shot over and curling in a free kick that Kepa Arrizabalaga parried. “We were so patient,” said Guardiola and opportunities were scarce but, after De Bruyne scored, Phil Foden fired over and, just before, Raheem Sterling, who had dominated his duel with a toiling Marcos Alonso, shot just wide.

Yet the two golden chances fell to the two most expensive signings in the history of English football. Arguably misses summed up their lives at new clubs, though each was denied by a fine save and Jack Grealish troubled Chelsea on a series of solo runs while Romelu Lukaku had moments of menace on the counter-attack.

When Mateo Kovacic’s attempted pass was intercepted by De Bruyne and fell obligingly for an unmarked Grealish, Arrizabalaga was swift to react, emerging from his line to push the winger’s shot wide.

The two opportunities bookended half-time and each involved Kovacic, who released Lukaku with a defence-splitting pass. The Belgian aimed to bend his shot around Ederson but was denied by a stunning save. “He had many ball losses and a huge chance,” said an unsympathetic Tuchel. “In 180 minutes against the European champions, we concede one shot on target,” noted Guardiola.

Man City v Chelsea player ratings

It was more important because of Chelsea’s negativity and mediocrity. “We deserved a draw,” said Tuchel; it was not his most credible comment although, as he argued, his side defended very well. It was another matter in attack. “It was about individual quality, and we lacked quality up front,” Tuchel said.

For the first time since May 2018, Chelsea reached half-time in the Premier League without registering a shot of any description. Too often they resorted to long balls. It seemed a defensive gameplan straight out of Mourinho’s handbook but, as City used their wingers high and wide to mean Chelsea’s wing-backs in effect completed a five-man rearguard, Tuchel was irritated and animated on the touchline, frustrated by his side’s inability to keep the ball or get out of their own half.

The City fans chorused “boring, boring Chelsea” but Tuchel’s antics suggested he had greater ambitions. “We could have had much more chances,” he said. “The ball losses were too early and too poor. The decision-making was not on the level we need.” Perhaps, however, that includes his own choices, too.

Updated: January 15, 2022, 3:51 PM
MATCH INFO

Manchester City 1 Chelsea 0
De Bruyne (70')

Man of the Match: Kevin de Bruyne (Manchester City)