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EPL PIX: Manchester City down Chelsea to go 13 points clear

Last updated on: January 16, 2022 07:57 IST
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Debutant Coutinho inspires Villa comeback draw against Manchester Utd

IMAGE: Manchester City's players celebrate after Kevin De Bruyne scored the goal against Chelsea during the English Premier League match at Etihad Stadium in Manchester, on Saturday. Photograph: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Runaway Premier League leaders Manchester City took a step closer to a fourth title in five seasons with a 1-0 win over second-placed Chelsea on Saturday, opening up a 13-point lead over the London club at the top.

 

Kevin De Bruyne's 70th-minute strike means that City have 56 points from 22 matches with Chelsea on 43 points. Third-placed Liverpool, who have two games in hand, including Sunday's match at home to Brentford, are on 42 points.

Philippe Coutinho enjoyed a dream debut for Aston Villa as he came off the bench to inspire a 2-2 comeback draw at home to Manchester United, scoring a late equaliser.

Rafa Benitez's troubles at Everton continued as they suffered a 2-1 loss at Norwich City, who moved off the bottom of the table with their third win of the campaign.

Newcastle United conceded a late equaliser in a 1-1 draw at home to Watford, missing the chance to escape the drop zone.

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel said his side would keep up the chase, but struck a realistic tone in regard to the title chase. "We won't give up, but if City keep on winning every game, nobody can catch them," said the German.

City extended their winning run in the league to 12 games, deservedly so after another display of controlled possession football.

There was none of the frantic entertainment and thrills of Chelsea's recent 2-2 draw with Liverpool in a game which, for all the quality football, produced few moments of excitement.

IMAGE: Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson makes a save from Chelsea's striker Romelu Lukaku. Photograph: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Chelsea remained compact and cautious while City probed and always looked the more likely to break through.

"It was absolutely well deserved," said Guardiola, "We cannot expect ten, 12 chances against that team. They're European champions."

"They waited in the transition to punish us and we scored the goal in a transition. We knew exactly what team we were playing and how good they are. In general today, we were so patient," he added.

But it was a disappointing effort from a Chelsea side which rarely threatened, displayed scant ambition and provided little reaction after De Bruyne's goal.

There were surprises in both team line-ups, with Guardiola leaving central defender Ruben Dias on the bench and Tuchel making the same choice over midfielder Mason Mount.

IMAGE: Manchester City's Jack Grealish clashes with Chelsea defender Malang Sarr. Photograph: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Chances were hard to come by in the opening 45 minutes with the best occasion falling to Jack Grealish, after De Bruyne robbed Mateo Kovacic on the edge of the box. But Chelsea keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga did well to keep out the midfielder's effort.

Chelsea's best effort came early in the second half when Kovacic fed Romelu Lukaku, but City keeper Ederson rushed out quickly to make a fine save.

It was a fine solo goal from De Bruyne which settled the outcome, the Belgian riding a challenge from N'golo Kante before beating Kepa Arrizabalaga with a curling shot into the far corner.

Phil Foden could have added a second for City six minutes from the end, but his shot from a promising position was high and wide.

"It’s always difficult against them. They are tight defensively, know what they are doing, and you have to be patient," said De Bruyne. "We played the game we needed to play and did what we had to do."

Chelsea beat City in last season's Champions League final, but City have completed the double over the London side in the Premier League this season, having won 1-0 at Stamford Bridge in September.

Debutant Coutinho inspires Villa comeback draw against Manchester Utd

Aston Villa's Philippe Coutinho acknowledges the applause from fans after the Premier League match against Manchester United at Villa Park, Birmingham.

IMAGE: Aston Villa's Philippe Coutinho acknowledges the applause from fans after the Premier League match against Manchester United at Villa Park, Birmingham. Photograph: John Sibley/Reuters

Aston Villa debutant Philippe Coutinho came off the bench to inspire a thrilling comeback in a gripping 2-2 draw at home to Manchester United later on Saturday.

United appeared to be on course for their second win of the week against Steven Gerrard's side as Bruno Fernandes struck in each half - the first goal courtesy of a dreadful error by Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez.

Villa were much improved in the second half but Coutinho was being readied for his arrival off the bench when Fernandes powered home an unstoppable effort in the 67th minute.

Coutinho was immediately involved though and 10 minutes later he played a big part as Villa got themselves back into the match with a well-worked goal struck home by Jacob Ramsey.

Brazil's former Liverpool playmaker Coutinho then sent the home fans wild with a tap-in from Ramsey's excellent cut back in the 82nd minute.

United, who enjoyed a rather fortunate 1-0 FA Cup third round win over Villa on Monday at Old Trafford, were stunned and Gerrard's side looked as if they could pull off a remarkable win with Coutinho forcing a save from David De Gea.

The draw left United in seventh place with 32 points from 20 games, five behind fourth-placed West Ham United with a game in hand, after picking up only five points from their last four league games. Villa are in 13th spot with 23 points.

Arsenal's north London derby at Spurs postponed

Arsenal's north London derby at Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday has been postponed because their squad has been depleted by COVID-19 infections, injuries and players away at the Africa Cup of Nations, the Premier League said on Saturday.

Arsenal had asked the league on Friday to delay the derby - the 21st match to be called off this season.

"With Arsenal having fewer than the required number of players available for the match (13 outfield players and one goalkeeper), the Board accepted the club's application (for a postponement)," the Premier League said in a statement.

Arsenal's Granit Xhaka was ruled out of Sunday's match after picking up a red card in Thursday's 0-0 draw at Liverpool in the League Cup semi-final first leg, while Cedric Soares, Bukayo Saka and Calum Chambers all sustained injuries.

Thomas Partey, Mohamed Elneny, Nicolas Pepe and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are on international duty in Africa, while Norwegian Martin Odegaard has tested positive for COVID-19.

Arsenal are fifth on 35 points after 20 matches, two points above sixth-placed rivals Tottenham, who have two games in hand.

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