Man City pile more pressure on Chelsea and Graham Potter - 5 talking points

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Man City pile more pressure on Chelsea and Graham Potter - 5 talking points
Man City pile more pressure on Chelsea and Graham Potter - 5 talking points

Manchester City cut the deficit at the top of the Premier League to five points after battling to a hard-fought 1-0 win against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Pep Guardiola's side knew ahead of their trip to the capital that they could close the gap on Arsenal with a win after the Gunners dropped points against Newcastle earlier this week - and they eventually did just that.

Chances were at a premium during a tepid first-half but Blues substitute Carney Chukwuemeka's deflected effort did strike the post on the stroke of half-time.

City looked far more fluid after a double change at the interval and the breakthrough arrived in the 63rd minute when substitutes Jack Grealish and Riyad Mahrez combined neatly to liven up the title race.

Here, Mirror Football looks at five talking points from tonight's match...

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City fire back at Gunners

Guardiola insisted on the eve of this match that chasing down Arsenal at the top of the league wouldn't be easy - but already the gap at the summit of the league no longer looks insurmountable.

Manchester City knew they had the perfect opportunity to ramp up the pressure on an Arsenal side who, quite frankly, were not expected to challenge for the domestic crown this term.

It took time, and it wasn't pretty, but City got the job done. That shouldn't come as a surprise: after all, it's what they do. But it was imperative that they did live up to expectations as they too dropped points last weekend.

It's now very much game on in the title race - regardless of what Guardiola says.

Grealish and Mahrez prove Pep's point

Join the debate! What did you make of Man City v Chelsea? Let us know here.

Man City pile more pressure on Chelsea and Graham Potter - 5 talking pointsMan City celebrate their goal against Chelsea (Matt McNulty/Manchester City)

Guardiola had insisted that he picked the team 'fans wanted to see' prior to the match after restoring Phil Foden to the team. But it was the introduction of Mahrez and Jack Grealish, two of the men that were moved to the bench in order to accommodate some of City's regular starters, that proved pivotal.

Grealish has struggled to live up to expectations since his record-breaking £100million move to the Etihad, but he teed up Mahrez with a teasing low cross to nudge the champions into the ascendancy.

It felt like it was only a matter of time before the breakthrough arrived after Guardiola made changes at the half-time interval - but it was the introduction of Grealish and Mahrez that fully tipped the tide in City's favour.

Maybe, just maybe, Pep knows best.

City make amends

Man City pile more pressure on Chelsea and Graham Potter - 5 talking pointsPep Guardiola shuffled his pack for the trip to Stamford Bridge (Ben Stansall/AFP)

It's common knowledge that Guardiola has always had a penchant for shuffling his pack unexpectedly, but City's approach was all wrong in the first-half.

Hakim Ziyech brutally denied deadline day transfer as PSG furious at ChelseaHakim Ziyech brutally denied deadline day transfer as PSG furious at Chelsea

Foden and Joao Cancelo were two of the names who were restored to the side with the latter playing as a right-winger at times. Rodri spent the first-half dropping into a centre-back berth when City turned over possession, with Nathan Ake shunting over to left-back.

It was an approach that appeared to hinder City's free-flowing football, with the likes of Foden and Erling Haaland completely anonymous: it took latter 20 minutes to even touch the ball for the first time.

Whatever the thinking was behind Guardiola's first-half approach, it only served to blunt the Premier League's most potent attack - so it was no surprise to see City thrive following a double change at the interval.

Chelsea lack a cutting edge

Man City pile more pressure on Chelsea and Graham Potter - 5 talking pointsGraham Potter has been criticised as a result of some of Chelsea's recent performances (Robin Jones/Getty)

With just 20 goals, Chelsea were by far the lowest scorers in top half of the Premier League table before Thursday night's match. Unfortunately, they looked toothless again against the champions.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who replaced Raheem Sterling after just five minutes, led the line alongside Kai Havertz but they were both completely anonymous - and Aubameyang was even hauled off in the 68th minute.

Young prospect Omari Hutchinson was tasked with trying to fire the Blues back in the game, but it was too much to ask from a player who has had precious little top-flight experience.

Chelsea are apparently ready to splash the cash in January to bolster their squad. Thursday night underlined why, and where, they need to do so.

Problems pile up for Potter

Man City pile more pressure on Chelsea and Graham Potter - 5 talking pointsRaheem Sterling was substituted after just five minutes after sustaining an injury (Ben Stansall/AFP)

Chelsea headed into the crunch match against City without star man Mason Mount - and things only got worse for the Blues on the injury front during the opening stages at Stamford Bridge.

Sterling, who was playing against his former club in the Premier League for the first time since his summer switch, lasted just 5 minutes after picking up what appeared to be a hamstring issue. And things got even worse for Potter when Christian Pulisic left the pitch in distress just 10 minutes after Aubameyang had replaced the stricken Sterling.

While it's unlikely Potter is under any serious strain from the Stamford Bridge hierarchy, results and performances since the World Cup have left fans seriously underwhelmed. The last thing the former Brighton chief needs right now is another three names in the physio room.

It's still early days, but already, patience appears to be wearing thin amongst the Stamford Bridge faithful.

Dan Marsh

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