|Riyad Mahrez peels away to celebrate his goal against Chelsea that proved to be the winner at the Stamford Bridge Stadium on Thursday. City won 1-0. (Photo credit: Sky Sports)|
Like Liverpool, Chelsea can forget about the title race this season and focus on staging a monstrous second-half of the season fight to gatecrash the top four which also looks to be slipping away after their 1-0 home loss to Manchester City on Thursday.
Not many expected any magic from the Stamford Bridge landlords but the City side that turned up for the game looked ordinary and it took Pep Guardiola’s halftime substitutions to give the game some life and ultimately produced the goods.
Chelsea lost Raheem Sterling early in the game to injury and on came Pierre Emerick Aubameyang; it was quite horrendous for the England forward who was hoping to make a statement against his former employers but the Gabonese that came on for him was anonymous all game long.
Joao Cancelo was restored to the starting line up but Guardiola hauled him off alongside Kyle Walker at the start of the second half and a new kid on the block Rico Lewis came on for him. It was however the hour-mark substitutions of Jack Grealish and Riyad Mahrez for Phil Foden and Bernardo Silva that delivered.
Grealish danced to the byline and cut back for Mahrez and the Algerian tapped into an empty net but Kepa Arrizabalaga should have done better. Chelsea offered nothing in response and City had little to worry about all game long.
Aubameyang that was a substitute was removed for Omari Hutchinson not long after the City goal and Lewis Hall replaced Marc Cucurella; the youngsters did more for the fans than the senior players and that might teach Graham Potter a few lessons for the future.
The win means City cut Arsenal’s lead at the top to five points and that could be some pressure on the Gunners as they travel to Tottenham for their next league game. City will be home to Manchester United, another cracker that could have a bearing on the title race considering the form of the Red Devils.
Chelsea remains in tenth, ten odd points off the top four and you must wonder where Potter and the Blues will go from here. Chelsea will play Fulham next week Thursday after the FA Cup break for their rescheduled game and would hope that would offer them some hope, they can’t afford to lose.