The Pensioners stop the Citizens
Written By: Robert Halter
Defending Premier League champions, Manchester City made the trip to West London to face Chelsea in an early December confrontation at Stamford Bridge. In the ninth minute, Raheem Sterling linked up play with David Silva, whose low cross on the left bobbled off Cesar Azpilicueta towards Sterling, whose delicate effort rolled into Kepa Arrizabalaga. On the quarter of the hour mark, Riyad Mahrez linked up play with David Silva, who found Leroy Sane in the box, but David Luiz managed to scramble the ball clear with a vital challenge. Midway through the first half, Marcos Alonso pushed Sterling in the back but Silva’s free kick was a bridge too far as it sailed past the far post. The Citizens threatened again in the thirty second minute, as Sane broke into the area before having his strike blocked by astute goalkeeping by Arrizabalaga, before a shot from Bernardo Silva was intercepted by Antonio Rudiger with a sliding stop. Within a minute from another threat by Sane, the ball spun off Azpilicueta and over the crossbar. But against the run of play, the Blues made the breakthrough just before half time, when a long ball forward by Luiz started the move as Pedro gave it out to Willian, whose cross was poorly headed out by Fernandinho, and Marcos Alonso worked the ball back through to Eden Hazard, whose pass across found N’Golo Kante, who hit an unstoppable right footed thunderbolt from the centre of the box high into the central roof of the net. Three minutes into the second half, Willian was hacked down by Fernandinho, and a bending free kick by Willian was clawed away by Ederson with his out stretched palm, before the ball was fired over by Pedro in an offside position. In the fifty second minute, from Kante’s mazy run, he played the ball out to Willian on the left, but his daisy cutter was mowed down by Ederson. The Citizens then replaced Sane with Gabriel Jesus. A hand ball by Hazard presented City with a free kick on fifty six minutes which was hammered over the wall by Kyle Walker, and at full stretch Arrizabalaga, made the save at the bottom left corner. In the sixty first minute, from a cross field pass by Fabian Delph, the ball was curled past the far right post from Sterling. The Blues responded in the next minute, when Willian’s pull back was driven in by Pedro into the body of Emerson. An enforced change was made by Chelsea as Mateo Kovacic was unable to continue and Ross Barkley took his place. Then David Silva pulled up injured and Ilkay Gundogan took up the City cause. Another Blues switch saw Willian leave the field of play for Ruben Loftus-Cheek. In the seventy seventh minute, through a drag back by Loftus-Cheek, a shot by Barkley went behind for a corner off Mahrez, which was taken by Hazard, and a looping glancing header from Luiz, cliped the underside of the upright before nestling into the far right corner. Through an assist by Walker, from thirty five yards out, Aymeric Laporte tried his luck but Arrizabalaga made the save at the bottom left corner. Phil Foden then took over from Mahrez. After Pedro combined with Azpilicueta from a throw in, his delivery was diverted past the top left corner through a Barkley header, in the eighty sixth minute. The Citizens responded a minute later, when Sterling’s low cross was aimed towards Jesus but the stout defending of Luiz protected Arrizabalaga, as the ball scrambled back off Jesus and out of play. In the eighty ninth minute, a poor defensive clearance by Kante, was latched upon by Fernandinho, who drove the ball wide of the left post. Olivier Giroud made a brief cameo appearance for Hazard. In stoppage time, Arrizabalaga’s miss kick went straight to Gundogan, who laid the ball back to Jesus, whose low drive in, was kept out by a full length save towards the bottom right corner by Arrizabalaga, as he made amends to keep a clean sheet and secure a 2-0 Chelsea victory over Manchester City, who slipped down to second place in the table behind Liverpool.