Riyadh Mahrez came off the bench to score the winner and help Manchester City produce one of the narrow football results of the midweek action in the Premier League. After a mediocre first half, City increased their pressure in the second and finally scored when two substitutes worked together, with Riyad Mahrez putting in Jack Grealish’s low cross. The opportunity to close the gap was presented to the reigning champions, who are now in second place, by Arsenal’s draw against Newcastle at home on Tuesday (63). Carney Chukwuemeka for Chelsea struck the post in the 44th minute. Nathan Ake for City did, however, head against the goal frame immediately after the restart, and the visitors went on to defeat Chelsea for the fourth straight time since losing the Champions League final to them in 2021.
The league’s top scorer, Erling Haaland, was held without a goal at Stamford Bridge, but City nevertheless won for the 11th time in a row, setting them up for another title challenge in 2023. Raheem Sterling and Christian Pulisic walking off early on, concerns are emerging for Graham Potter at Chelsea, who will have the chance to reply in Sunday’s FA Cup third-round meeting with City at the Etihad. Chelsea has only six points from their past eight games, their worst streak since 2010. They still occupy position 10, 10 points behind the top four.
Both teams entered the game coming off of dismal draws, with Chelsea being held at Nottingham Forest and City splitting the points with Everton at the Etihad the previous time they played. These results increased the pressure on this heavyweight battle, and the tight first half saw Sterling grip his hamstring and Pulisic take a hit after being brilliantly denied by the game’s player of the match, John Stones. Nevertheless, Chukwuemeka, the 19-year-old who replaced Pulisic, made a difference. He launched a counterattack, moved into the penalty area, had a shot blocked by Bernardo Silva, and then deflected his effort off the post and into the goal.
De Bruyne tested Kepa Arrizabalaga in stoppage time as City immediately countered that attempt, but by the end of the first half, City hadn’t been as successful as they could have been. The visitors weren’t at their best since Joao Cancelo, Kyle Walker, and Phil Foden was making their World Cup debuts. It took them till the 33rd minute to attempt their first shot of the game. After the break, everything changed. Walker and Cancelo were replaced by Rico Lewis and Manuel Akanji, and City suddenly seemed like a more formidable force. Prior to Ake leaping to head a stunning De Bruyne cross against the post, Haaland missed a shot.
Then, on either side of a rare Chelsea opportunity that Thiago Silva blew, the Belgian traded a few blows of his own. In spite of Kepa’s apparent hesitancy, Grealish utilized cleverness to break the tie by threading a pass through the six-yard box for Mahrez to tap in. Chelsea’s options at that moment seemed constrained due to the inexperience on their bench. The home team came back strong with Hall’s flashing over after Haaland just missed connecting with a De Bruyne cross. However, newcomers Omari Hutchinson, Lewis Hall, and Conor Gallagher injected new energy.
Despite this promise and potential, Chelsea’s forwards—including Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who had earlier replaced Sterling—again failed to seize the initiative and have an impact on football results. In order to propel this club up the league and closer to its desired position, Potter now has a formidable challenge. So that Sunday can arrive, he needs to figure out how to end Chelsea’s dreadful streak against Man City as soon as possible.
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