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Dublin: 4 °C Friday 21 February, 2020


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Hello, you’re very welcome to today’s liveblog.

Just as I type, Palace have scored against Liverpool with the score at 1-1 in the dying minutes. The result would still leave the Reds 10 points ahead of City.

The Etihad outfit can cut that gap this evening, of course, but their task will be far from easy. 

The reigning champions are up against a Chelsea team that have won six Premier League games in a row, and prevailed in eight consecutive away matches in all competitions. Their terrific recent form means Frank Lampard’s team currently sit one point above City in the table.

Meanwhile, by their high standards, Pep Guardiola’s side have had a disappointing start to the season, with three defeats in 12 matches, which is just one fewer than in the entirety of last season.

They will particularly be looking to improve on the dispiriting 3-1 loss they suffered against Liverpool before the international break.

Of course, after I typed my previous entry, Liverpool have gone ahead again.

That will now put them 12 points ahead of City as it stands.

We’re under way…

A bad omen?

Chance for City early on!

Fernandinho finds Aguero, who slips through De Bruyne, but the Belgian international fires his shot just wide from a tight angle.

City break again, and again, Aguero finds De Bruyne.

The City attacker dwells too long on the ball though, and Chelsea get back in numbers to avert the danger.

It’s been quite an open game so far, with both sides looking threatening on the counter-attack.

Big chance for Chelsea!

Abraham sets up Willian, who fires inches wide in a chance similar to the one De Bruyne had moments earlier.

If this game maintains this level of intensity/entertainment, then we’re in for a classic. 

Pulisic plays through Kante, who squares it to Abraham, but the striker bends the ball just wide from the edge of the area.

This game continues to be really open with both sides looking very dangerous whenever they go forward.

Kante’s cross is deflected just wide by Stones.

It’s been a decent start by Chelsea — they certainly haven’t been afraid to attack City as teams often are when they visit the Etihad Stadium.

As I type the ball falls to Fikayo Tomori on the edge of the area, but his first-time shot goes narrowly wide.

Willian plays it to Emerson, whose shot is comfortably saved by Ederson.

Chelsea have already had five attempts to City’s two.

The Londoners have found it surprisingly easy to play through their opponents.

Mateo Kovacic  finds Kante with a long pass.

The French midfielder shrugs off a challenge from Mendy, before sliding the ball under the body of Ederson and into the net.

It’s no more than Chelsea deserve after their excellent start here.

Chelsea had been playing so well and dominating possession.

However, Jorginho gives the ball away needlessly, allowing City to break.

Silva’s through pass is cut out. It falls to De Bruyne, whose shot from the edge of the box deflects off Zouma, wrong-footing Kepa Arrizabalaga and going into the net.

De Bruyne finds Aguero, who tries to turn away from Zouma, but the defender does well to smother his attempted shot.

The way it’s going at the moment, you feel like this game could finish 5-5. There’s been brilliant attacking play from both teams mixed with some dodgy enough defending.

What a turnaround from City!

Rodri plays it to Mahrez. The winger turns inside, getting away from Emerson and Kovacic, before firing a shot through the legs of Tomori and into the corner of the net.

The Algeria international didn’t have the best of starts to this game, with stray passes inducing groans from the home crowd, but he has certainly shown his worth there.

Kepa is a relieved man after an awful error.

The goalkeeper’s attempt clearance goes straight to Aguero, whose shot hits the crossbar, before Chelsea scramble it clear.

The second half has begun…

Mahrez darts across the box with the ball before curling his shot just wide.

The Algerian and City in general have started the second half as they finished the first.

City are forced into an early second-half substitution.

Rodri limps off and is replaced by Gundogan.

Chance for Chelsea!

Azpilicueta’s low cross finds Willian, whose effort is deflected just wide.

Down the other end, De Bruyne charges forward and Kepa tips his cross-shot just wide.

We almost certainly haven’t seen the last of the goals today.

Another nervy moment for Chelsea.

Cancelo plays it across the box, but Azpilicueta is well positioned to make the clearance.

Chelsea make a change. 19-year-old Reece James replaces Emerson.

He’ll slot in at right-back, with Azpilicueta switching to left-back.

City go close again.

Aguero lifts the ball across the box.

Fernandinho’s subsequent initial shot is blocked by Azpilicueta, before Mahrez’s attempt is tipped over acrobatically by Kepa. 

Man City make another change.

David Silva picks up a knock and Phil Foden comes on in his place.

A well-worked move sees Pulisic find Abraham, but the ball gets away from the striker and he then gives away a free kick as Chelsea continue to probe.

Down the other end, Foden’s shot is comfortably saved by Kepa.

Chelsea make a double change as they search desperately for the equaliser.

Jorginho and Abraham are replaced by Mason Mount and Michy Batshuayi.

A final change for City.

Aguero looks in a bit of pain and he walks off gingerly, to be replaced by Gabriel Jesus.

The ball sits up nicely for Willian, after he’s set up by Pulisic.

The Brazilian’s shot from about 30 yards out goes inches over.

City had looked comfortable in recent minutes.

All of a sudden, there’s a moment of worry, as Ederson’s clearance hits off Batshuayi, but it then deflects to safety.

City are looking relatively in control now.

They probably would be worthy winners on the basis of how impressively they recovered from going a goal behind.

There will be four minutes of stoppage time…

Kevin De Bruyne has been named man of the match by Sky.

As I type, Gundogan is booked for a cynical foul as Chelsea break forward.

Mount has produced an impressive free kick from distance that goes narrowly wide.

It looks like City are going to see this game out.

Sterling got on the end of a flick-on, with Kepa only able to help the shot on its way to the net.

The England international is adjudged marginally offside after a VAR check, but it doesn’t really matter, as the final whistle is blown moments later.

Right, that’s all from me.

Thanks for reading and commenting.

We’ll have more reaction to follow, and you can read our match report here.

About the author:

Paul Fennessy


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