Manchester Metropolis’s grip on its Premier League title hasn’t been this sturdy all season.
A 1-0 win at Brentford on Wednesday, coupled with Chelsea conceding a stoppage-time aim to attract 1-1 in opposition to Brighton, left the defending champions with an eight-point lead heading into the brand new 12 months.
It has been an virtually excellent 24 hours for Metropolis, which noticed Liverpool _ one other rival for the title _ surprisingly lose 1-0 at injury-hit Leicester on Tuesday. Chelsea has moved some extent forward of third-place Liverpool earlier than their assembly at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, when not less than one of many groups will drop factors.
Liverpool has a sport in hand, however will quickly lose star forwards Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane to the African Cup of Nations.
Metropolis wasn’t at its fluent finest in opposition to Brentford _ Pep Guardiola’s staff got here into the match having scored 17 objectives in its final three matches _ however nonetheless did sufficient to earn a tenth straight win within the league.
“I’m not going to imagine you if you say it’s already executed,” Guardiola mentioned. “There are 54 factors nonetheless to play for.”
But Metropolis is even successful when not enjoying its finest.
Phil Foden grabbed the one aim within the sixteenth minute, diverting a cross from Kevin De Bruyne into the web from shut vary. Video assessment confirmed Foden was simply onside when he utilized the end.
It was the right method for Foden to mark his return to the beginning lineup, alongside Jack Grealish, after each forwards have been dropped to the bench for Metropolis’s final two video games for disciplinary causes.
“Round Christmas it’s important to hold your foot on the gasoline and hold targeted,” Foden mentioned. “This staff is doing that.”
Metropolis concluded a calendar 12 months when the staff has set English top-flight information for essentially the most victories (36) and essentially the most away wins (19), whereas its tally of 113 objectives can also be a Premier League document.
It’s three attracts in 4 league matches for Chelsea, whose sturdy early-season type has disappeared.
Danny Welbeck earned Brighton some extent that was deserved on the idea of the guests’ second-half exhibiting when he headed in a cross from Marc Cucurella within the first minute of stoppage time
Romelu Lukaku scored for the second straight sport to place Chelsea in entrance within the twenty eighth minute.
Making issues worse for Chelsea supervisor Thomas Tuchel was the sight of proper wing again Reece James hobbling off halfway by the primary half with a hamstring damage. Chelsea additionally needed to change one other defender, Andreas Christensen, due to a again damage at halftime.
Tuchel appeared like he has given up on successful the title, given the variety of his gamers out by damage and sickness.
“How ought to we be in it?” he mentioned. “Now we have seven COVID circumstances. Now we have 5 or 6 gamers out for six or extra weeks. How ought to we compete in a title race?
“Everybody else who has a full squad, everyone in coaching has the total energy to return by this league. We might be silly to assume we are able to do it out of COVID and accidents and simply play.”