Man City kill the title intrigue as top-class De Bruyne downs Chelsea

The goal of the Belgian became the decider of the match

The intrigue in the English Premier League is rapidly dying. City’s gap by New Year’s Eve was already impressive, there were 11 points. The hope lingered that Chelsea would manage to reduce chasm in a face-to-face match – but they were smashed by the magnificent Kevin de Bruyne.

The 22nd round of the Premier League saw a remake of the last Champions League final – this time the match belonged to Manchester City. And it is quite apparent that Guardiola’s side won not only a particular encounter against the Aristocrats, but also the whole Premiership. Against a fairly closed opponent playing defensively, it was Kevin De Bruyne’s perfect shot that decided everything. Tuchel’s plan didn’t work this time.

In the first half, the Londoners had little to offer in the attack: not a single shot on target and only two touches in the opponent’s box. City did a little better – but failed to score.

Until De Bruyne’s goal in the second half, it was much more exciting to spectate the game. and then, out of the blue, the Belgian simply ran away from N’golo Kante to the penalty area and charged the ball right into the far corner. Kepa Arrizabalaga was out of business.

By the way, this is Kevin’s fifth goal against Chelsea – no former Blues’ player has ever scored so often.

Lads of Thomas Tuchel were unable to pile on and claw their way into the opposing half of the pitch (only four touches in the penalty area from the 70th minute onwards, with only one shot being taken). And, with that, City was not going to back down – they pounced in the middle of the pitch and were creating more chances. This victory and the earned three points for the leader is a logical one we should say.

‘We created enough chances, 180 minutes against the European champions this season we conceded one shot on target from Romelu Lukaku. We deserved it today. I like football when it is fair. I was happy to win against Arsenal, but we didn’t deserve it and when we deserve it, it feels better.’

The Spaniard briefly summarized the match.

Thus, Manchester City scored 56 points under the belt in 22 games which gave them clear leadership in the standings of the English Premier League season-2021/2022. 

At the moment, the Sky-Blues have the biggest gap from the second place of all the top 5 European championships (13 points from Chelsea).

Third is Liverpool with 14 points (Merseyside could theoretically reduce it if they win the two matches they have in reserve). Admittedly, it will be difficult: the Reds are without key Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Naby Keita for the next month – the African Cup takes away the chances of reviving the intrigue in the EPL. A clear indicator is the recent League Cup match against Arsenal, the guys of Jurgen Klopp lacked the ability to put a shot on target.

This will likely be City’s fourth title in five years.

Thomas Tuchel commented on the performance of his charges and also stated that they will continue to fight for the championship no matter what:

“The result is disappointing, but this can happen when you play at City. I thought we deserved a draw, we defended very well. We did not allow big chances. We were not under so much pressure. Performance wise, this is OK. The commitment, I am absolutely OK. A draw would be a fair result but we don’t have it. We have won games like this against City, so it feels very different! We had eight or nine offensive transitions, but had zero touches in the box. That was a big problem today, the performance of our front players. A lack of position, timing and composure. We lost too many balls too easily. Romelu Lukaku sometimes needs to do the service, he is included in this, he had many ball losses in very promising circumstances, he had a huge chance. Of course we want to serve him, but he is part of the team, and the performance up front, we can do much better. We will never give up, but if City keep winning every game, nobody can catch them.”

Experience suggests that such a gap from the City is almost impossible to win back:

20/21 seasonGuardiola’s team lost only 12 points (4 defeats) after the New Year
19/20 season15 points (4 defeats and 1 draw)
18/19 season3 points (1 loss)
17/18 season10 points (2 losses, 2 draws)
15/16 season18 points (2 losses, 6 draws)

Interesting fact: a popular American sports forecasting resource – based on 20,000 Monte Carlo simulations – estimates the probability of Manchester City’s championship at 88%. Chelsea’s chances of winning the EPL are now less than 1% – the same as 17 other teams. Liverpool are still 11 percent likely to contend for the crown.

Here’s how Pep Guardiola reasoned about the talks that they had already secured the title:

‘We are together for six seasons and most of them I know them incredibly well and how they celebrate the good moments and suffer the bad ones. So they are going to listen to me that it is not true when the people say it is over. In January it is impossible it is over. That would be a problem now to take the lead for granted. If Liverpool win 2 games in hand, it’s eight points. Now my job is take from the brains of my players to not believe what the people say. But 12 wins – 36 points from 36 – hats off to them.’

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  • For City, the win was their 12th in a row in the league, a streak lasting since Nov. 6. The total score of those games is impressive, 35-7.
  • Another impressive fact about Pep’s dominance: there have been only nine winning streaks of 12 or more matches in the history of the Premier League – Guardiola’s City has created more than 30% of them.
  • Man City beat Chelsea 1-0 in the first round of the season. Back then, the Londoners did not attempt a single shot on target.