Premier League

Chelsea 2-1 Manchester City – 5 things we learned

 • by Adam Newson
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Chelsea took a big step towards the Premier League title as an Eden Hazard brace clinched a 2-1 win for the Blues over Manchester City.

Antonio Conte’s side went in front during a throughly entertaining first half via Hazard. The Belgian’s deflected shot from the edge of the area beating Willy Caballero.

Sergio Agüero equalised for City in the 26th minute after a poor clearance from Thibaut Courtois but Hazard restored Chelsea’s advantage shortly before half time.

The Blues sat back and defended in the second period. The onus was on Man City and Pep Guardiola’s side couldn’t find a way through.

Here are the five things we learned from Chelsea’s big win.

Chelsea’s defeat to Palace was a blip and nothing more

After Conte’s side suffered a shock 2-1 defeat to Crystal Palace at the weekend, the national media were quick to stir the pot and question whether the Blues would now throw away their seven–point lead at the top of the table.

But while Chelsea were not at their fluent best against City, they displayed the qualities of champions, especially during the second half.

With a half time lead to hold on to, Chelsea spent much of the second period camped in their defensive third and playing on the counter attack. They defended stoically, rarely overcommitting players, and Courtois wasn’t truly tested. Although John Stones should’ve scored late on from a corner.

Given second placed Tottenham Hotspur cliched a dramatic 3-1 win at Swansea City, they were 1-0 down as the game entered the 89th minute, it made securing three points all the more important for Chelsea. They remain well in control of their own destiny.

Antonio Conte

Eden Hazard stepped up when Chelsea really needed him

Big players often define big games and that was certainly the case for Eden Hazard. The Chelsea winger has been in sparkling form this season but had scored just twice since the turn of the year.

The Blues needed a big display from their star man and once again he delivered. His tenth minute opener may have had an element of fortune but it was the Belgian’s sweeping pass in the build-up that made the chance possible.

And he showed no fear when stepping up after Pedro had won Chelsea a penalty. His initial effort was poor and Caballero saved, but Hazard was quick to react and convert the rebound.

City’s defence needs Vincent Kompany – even if he’s not fully fit

The Belgian’s injury problems have plagued him over the last three seasons. Kompany has managed just 43 Premier League appearances since the start of the 2014/15 campaign and only three since Guardiola arrived at the Etihad.

The 30-year-old has been slowly nursed back from a knee injury he sustained in November and, on the evidence of his performance at Stamford Bridge, it was the right strategy.

Vincent Kompany

Kompany brought an assured presence to a City defence that has often looked shaky.

He was unfortunate to deflect Hazard’s shot past Caballero for Chelsea’s opener but went on to win 100 per cent of his aerial duels, make three interceptions – one of which to deny Diego Costa breaking into the area – and make five clearances.

If City are finally able to keep their captain fit, it will be a huge boost to their top four hopes.

Guardiola’s decision to bring in Delph paid off

It was a bold call from Guardiola to bring Fabian Delph into his side.

The 27-year-old had played just 38 minutes of Premier League football prior to starting at Stamford Bridge but was tasked with stopping Eden Hazard and Pedro from finding space in front of the City defence.

It’s a job even fully fit midfielders struggle with yet Delph displayed the energy and combativeness that convinced City to sign him from Aston Villa for £8million.

He made the most tackles in the game (6) and made more ball recoveries (11) than any other player. What will have pleased Guardiola most, however, is how he used the ball.

Delph attempted 103 passes during the contest and 96 were successful – it was his chip forward that teed up Fernandinho for City’s best chance of the second period but the Brazilian fired over.

Diego Costa is struggling for form

The Chelsea striker was superb during the first half of the campaign. He struck 14 goals by January 14 and had played a key role in the Blues ascent up the Premier League table.

But since his reported bust-up with Antonio Conte over a failed move to the Chinese Super League, Costa’s form has dipped

Against City Costa struggled to impose himself. Stones and Kompany handled the Spain international, who spent the final minutes of the first half filling in on the left flank, very well.

Costa has averaged 3.1 shots a game this season but during the 90 minutes, the 28-year-old striker managed just one effort on goal and it was way off target.

He is still working hard for his teammates, however. He made eight ball recoveries which was the highest in the Blues side. No easy feat when you’ve got N’Golo Kante in your team.

Read More: Chelsea face a tricky decision about Kurt Zouma’s future

 

 

 

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