Resilient Chelsea Frustrate Man City’s Premier League Title Chase

Rodri’s late equaliser prolonged Manchester City’s year-long unbeaten home record, but a 1-1 draw with Chelsea on Saturday gave Liverpool and Arsenal a significant advantage in the Premier League title battle.

Raheem Sterling gave Chelsea the lead in the first half on his return to the Etihad, and City seemed set to suffer their first home defeat in 34 games until Rodri’s deflected effort seven minutes from time.

City now trail leaders Liverpool by four points and Arsenal by two, although they have a game in hand on both of their title contenders.

City’s 3-1 Champions League success in Copenhagen in midweek was their 11th consecutive victory in all competitions, and they appeared poised to defend their Premier League, Champions League, and FA Cup treble from last season.

But Chelsea exposed chinks in the champions’ armour.

City have kept just seven clean sheets in 24 Premier League games this season.

“I think we weren’t great in the first half. We conceded another easy goal. I think we have to defend better,” said Rodri.

“We knew about their counter-attacks and fast players, but we have to defend the counter-attack better. From there, it’s always more difficult to come back.”

Mauricio Pochettino’s men have frequently saved their best efforts for the most important tasks throughout a challenging season for the Blues.

Chelsea defeated all three championship challengers at home earlier this season and then delivered a counter-attacking effort on the road that gives Pochettino confidence ahead of next weekend’s League Cup final against Liverpool.

“I feel like the lads are confident,” said Chelsea midfielder Conor Gallagher.

“We have had some good performances, and then today against a top team. I feel like we are going into the next game with a lot of confidence and we are excited for it.”

Haaland’s night to forget

Chelsea should have lead much earlier in the first half when Nicolas Jackson failed to beat Ederson clean through following a superb counter-attack that left City wide open.

Pep Guardiola’s team did not learn their lesson, as another former City player Cole Palmer passed Jackson in behind, where he found Sterling, who coolly cut inside Kyle Walker and blasted into the far corner on 42 minutes.

Sterling’s celebrations were understated, but the goal would have been met with joy in Merseyside and north London.

Erling Haaland had missed City’s sole clean chance in the first 45 minutes, but they exploded after the break.

Kevin De Bruyne’s dipping free-kick found the back of the net, and Sterling was extremely fortunate not to be penalised for bringing down Walker inside the box.

However, as City sought an equaliser, they became even more vulnerable to counter-attacks.

Ederson made a fantastic save to deny Sterling his second goal, and Ruben Dias had to head Ben Chilwell’s follow-up effort off the line.

Haaland’s quickness and power finally got him past the Chelsea defence 25 minutes from time, but Djordje Petrovic was equal to his deflected shot at the near post.

The Norwegian had nine shots on goal, but his night was made even worse when he headed wide off target from a wonderfully weighted De Bruyne cross, leaving the 53,000-person audience stunned.

City did manage to salvage a point, with Rodri maintaining his own year-long undefeated streak.

The last time the Spaniard lost in a City shirt was on February 5, 2022.

The man who scored the goal in last season’s Champions League final need the help of a deflection as his driven attempt sailed into the top corner off Trevoh Chalobah.

Chelsea returns to the top half of the table, just six points behind the top six, thanks to an unexpected point.

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