Soccer

Manchester City moves to third in Premier League with win vs. Chelsea

Manchester City moves to third in Premier League with win vs. Chelsea

Manchester City returned to winning ways with a morale-boosting 2-1 victory over Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday Night Football.

A fortnight on from their damaging defeat at Anfield, City found themselves 12 points behind leaders Liverpool following their dramatic win at Crystal Palace, and their title challenge looked set to receive another blow when N'Golo Kante put Chelsea into a deserved lead midway through the first half.

But a deflected equaliser from Kevin De Bruyne hauled the champions level against the run of play before a brilliant solo goal from Riyad Mahrez completed the City comeback before half-time, while Raheem Sterling had a late third controversially ruled out for offside late on.

The victory sees City leapfrog Chelsea into third in the Premier League and brings the gap to Liverpool back down to nine points, while a third defeat of the season brings Chelsea's six-game winning run to an end.

How City returned to winning ways

Another dramatic, late Liverpool victory made for a subdued atmosphere ahead of kick-off, but a pulsating first half of football brought the Etihad to life.

De Bruyne came within inches of firing City into the lead when he was released in behind by Sergio Aguero inside four minutes, but that was all the champions could muster in their bright opening spell before Chelsea took charge.

Just four Chelsea players who started the 6-0 demolition at the Etihad in February were fielded by Frank Lampard, and it showed.

In the seven minutes leading up to the quarter-hour mark, Willian whistled a shot past the post, Tammy Abraham scooped an effort wide and Fikayo Tomori thought he had given Chelsea the lead when he instinctively lashed the ball towards goal when City failed to deal with a corner.

And Chelsea finally made the pressure tell on 21 minutes as Kante outmuscled Benjamin Mendy to gather Mateo Kovacic's lofted pass, and the Frenchman bundled the ball over the on-rushing Ederson.

But just when it seemed Chelsea would add to their deserved lead, City drew level. Fortune favoured the champions as deflections off both Chelsea centre-backs sent the ball into the path of De Bruyne and, after he cut inside onto his left foot, a second deflection of Kurt Zouma turned his shot past the wrong-footed Kepa.

City hit the front for the first time thanks to a moment of brilliance from Mahrez. The Algerian gathered a cross-field ball on the right, weaved in between Emerson and Kovacic before firing a shot through Tomori's legs and past the unsighted Chelsea goalkeeper.

An encouraging first half threatened to unravel for Chelsea when Kepa aimless pass out from the back fell at the feet of Aguero, but the Spaniard's blushes were spared by the crossbar.

The intensity of the first period transferred to the second, with both sides peppering each other's goals at will. A last-gasp Fernandinho block turned a Kante's goal-bound shot behind within eight minutes of the restart before Mahrez's rasping volley drew a stunning fingertip save from Kepa.

City thought they had finally put Chelsea to bed deep into stoppage-time when Sterling's shot breached the defences of Kepa, but another contentious VAR decision ruled the effort out with the England forward adjudged to have been millimetres offside.

And that decision was so nearly compounded by the final play of the game when substitute Mason Mount flashed a free-kick inches wide from 30 yards, but City saw out the victory on a night when Chelsea were left wondering what might have been.

Opta stats

  • Manchester City have conceded the first goal in three of their last four home league games, as many as they had in their previous 51 at the Etihad.
  • Manchester City's possession of 46.74 is the lowest recorded by a side managed by Pep Guardiola in any of his 381 top-flight matches in charge.
  • Chelsea's N'Golo Kante has scored with all three of his shots on target in the Premier League this season. The Frenchman has scored in three of his last four games in the competition.
  • Chelsea's last four Premier League defeats have been against last season's top six, including all three so far this season (2 v Liverpool, 1 v Man City, 1 v Man Utd).
  • Chelsea didn't manage a single shot on target after their 21st-minute goal in this match.

[RELATED: Mourinho era at Tottenham begins with win over rival West Ham]

What's next?

The return of the Champions League sees Manchester City host Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday at 8pm, while Chelsea travel to Valencia on Wednesday at 5.55pm.

City then travel to Newcastle in the Premier League on Saturday at 12.30pm, before Chelsea host London rivals West Ham at 3pm.

Sheffield United-Man City live stream: Watch EPL online on NBC Sports Gold

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AP

Sheffield United-Man City live stream: Watch EPL online on NBC Sports Gold

Second-place Manchester City (23-15-3; 48 points) are, barring a historic collapse from Premier League-leading Liverpool, going to end a season outside of first place for the first time since 2017. 

The Sky Blues fell 16 points behind the Reds thanks to Sunday's 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace, but a nine-point advantage of fourth-place Chelsea means City are in no real danger of falling out of a UEFA Champions League place. Manager Pep Guardiola won't wave the white flag, however, telling reporters this week that his side's league form is vital to their hopes of winning the Carabao and FA Cups, as well as the Champions League. 

Sheffield United (8-9-6; 33 points), meanwhile, are within range of the European places in their first season in the Premier League. The Blades have acquitted themselves well against the league's best, but a result against Manchester City arguably would be Sheffield United's most impressive of the season. They lost 2-0 to City during the festive period, but the Blades surely will be better at Bramall Lane. 

[RELATED: How to watch Chelsea-Arsenal match online, on TV]

Here's how to watch Tuesday's Sheffield United-Manchester City match exclusively streaming on NBC Sports Gold. 

When: Tuesday, Jan. 21 at 2:30 p.m. ET/11:30 a.m. PT
Stream: NBC Sports Gold

Here is the full list of other matches exclusively airing at that time on NBC Sports Gold.  

Bournemouth-Brighton
Aston Villa-Watford
Crystal Palace-Southampton
Everton-Newcastle United

Chelsea-Arsenal live stream: Watch Premier League game online, on TV

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Chelsea-Arsenal live stream: Watch Premier League game online, on TV

Tuesday's match at Stamford Bridge will help us answer the Premier League's most pressing question: Does anyone actually want to finish in fourth place? 

Chelsea currently hold England's last UEFA Champions League spot, leading Tuesday opponents -- and London rivals -- Arsenal by a whopping 10 points. Yet, the Blues' grip on fourth place is tenuous at best, as they have not won consecutive league games since November 9. Tuesday begins a four-match stretch in which Chelsea play Arsenal, third-place Leicester City, fifth-place Manchester United and eighth-place Tottenham Hotspur. It has the potential to be the Blues' season-defining stretch. 

Arsenal, meanwhile, are still struggling for form under new manager Mikel Arteta. They're unbeaten in their last three Premier League matches, but the Gunners drew Crystal Palace and Sheffield United in their last two. Qualifying for the Champions League could be too tall of a task, but Arsenal absolutely need to win away from home Tuesday if they're to have any hope of pulling it off. 

[RELATED: Check out more Premier League coverage on Sky Sports]

Here's how to watch Tuesday's Chelsea-Arsenal match live online and on NBCSN.

When: Tuesday, Jan. 21 at 3:15 p.m. ET/12:15 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN
Online: NBC Sports