While Manchester City won a tenth straight Premier League win at Brentford on Wednesday night, Chelsea fell to a disappointing draw against Brighton just 40 miles away.
Two title jumpers played nearby in west London, but by the end of the evening, the distance between Cityzens and the hunting group was anything but close.
With Thomas Tuchel’s team’s 1-1 draw and Liverpool’s shocking 1-0 loss to Leicester on Tuesday night, Pep Guardiola’s men took advantage of being eight points ahead at the top of the Premier League.
And they did it as champions.
They were boring, they were uninspiring and frankly they were a job to watch most of the time. But, they won.
After a 7-0 tightening of Leeds, a 4-0 dubbing of Newcastle and a 6-3 attack on Leicester in their previous three, City played out a much more subdued – to put it mildly – 1-0- victory at Brentford Community Stadium.
Pep Guardiola was anything but happy with his side’s performance / Craig Mercer / MB Media / GettyImages
While goals had previously flowed for Guardiola’s side, this win was built on pure defensive nous and solidity, with the inexhaustible Fernandinho at the helm; the game-reading intelligence of fullbacks Joao Cancelo and Nathan Ake to stifle the bees’ diagonal and cross-field game phases; and the relentless pressing of the front five.
But just like real champions do, City produced a moment of magic to get the three points together. In a hotly contested and close-fought first half, it was a break after a superb Ederson save and a Cancelo goal line clearance from the resulting corner that produced the game’s lone goal.
The counter eventually found its way to Kevin De Bruyne, whose silky, perfectly weighted, first-time curling cross quality was matched by Phil Foden’s elusive movement in the penalty area. The 21-year-old’s subsequent nice finish was simply a formality.
De Bruyne ➡️ The Foot ➡️ GOAL!
A beautiful delivery from the Belgian and @ManCity opens the goal scorer at Brentford! #PLonPrime #BREMCI pic.twitter.com/4KqVR2RJyJ
– Amazon Prime Video Sport (@primevideosport) December 29, 2021
The guests got two failed goals in the second period, but in reality it was a little different to note in the creative sense. That is not to say that they did not deserve to leave with smiles on their faces – even though Guardiola himself was left anything but happy by the sad display of his glittering wand.
While Liverpool and Chelsea lost points again, City marked a victory in a way that only title winners do.
The reigning champions now have an eight-point cushion between them and Chelsea in second place. Liverpool have one match in progress and can reduce the gap to six points, but since the league leaders only threaten to meet each other in a top match this weekend, current matches only play City in their hands.
It has been a fucking festive season for most Premier League clubs, but when we get out of it, City have done nothing but confirm their title merits and have seemingly rushed away – not all the way, but something – from the hunt. .
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