Liverpool Premier League champions as Chelsea down 10-man City

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Liverpool are Premier League champions after Manchester City were beaten 2-1 by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Friday (AEST).

Pep Guardiola's side had the chance to prolong the Reds' 30-year wait at least until the two sides meet at the Etihad Stadium next week, but the title was within touching distance when Christian Pulisic gave Frank Lampard's side a 36th-minute lead.

Kevin De Bruyne's spectacular free-kick brought City level and Raheem Sterling hit the post, but their vulnerability on the break was eventually punished when Fernandinho handled in a desperate 75th-minute goalmouth scramble.

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The veteran Brazil international was sent off and his countryman Willian sealed the points and crowned Jurgen Klopp's dominant league winners.

Kepa Arrizabalaga acrobatically pushed Fernandinho's header from Riyad Mahrez's free-kick over the crossbar amid a controlled opening half-hour from City.

Ederson saved well from Pulisic and Andreas Christensen in quick succession at the other end, and he merited better protection when Chelsea took the lead.

Poor communication between Ilkay Gundogan and Benjamin Mendy and the latter's botched recovery tackle that left Pulisic in the clear to finish coolly.

There was questionable wisdom in Mendy seeking to atone for his errors by shooting frequently from distance early in the second half.

In the 55th minute, De Bruyne added finesse to that tactic with a sumptuous dipping free-kick after N'Golo Kante clumsily fouled Mahrez.

A one-touch counter-attack then ended with Sterling dinking against the post, with Chelsea's efforts noticeably more laboured.

Ederson launched that attack but a poor pass out was almost punished as Mason Mount thumped into the side netting.

City's slick dominance of the ball but creaky defence lent an intriguing balance to the final quarter of the contest – Sterling curling agonisingly wide before Kyle Walker somehow got back to improbably deny Pulisic a second on the goal line.

Fernandinho was unable to be so precise when denying Tammy Abraham, leaving Willian to send Ederson the wrong way and prompt celebrations on Merseyside.

 

What does it mean: Chelsea take important step towards the Champions League

Although most of the focus was understandable on the main consequence of this Chelsea victory, it was a huge three points for the Stamford Bridge side. Their five-point advantage over a resurgent Manchester United in fifth is restored, while a wobbling Leicester City are now just a point better off with seven matches remaining.

De Bruyne shows his class once again

It feels like a trick of the mind that City won a thrilling title battle last season with De Bruyne reduced to a bit-part role by two medial knee ligament injuries. He has performed at a level above his colleagues this time around, with his free-kick here another champagne moment that adds weight to his case for end-of-season honours.

Mendy's moment to forget

In the build-up to this match, Mendy spoke of how this was his "time" and how he wanted to show people "the real Mendy" following his injury nightmare. Presumably, the slapstick version on display for Chelsea's opener was not what he had in mind. Guardiola needs a more reliable left-back next season, in terms of both form and fitness.

Key Opta Facts

- This is the third of the past six Premier League seasons to see the title decided in a match played at Stamford Bridge (Chelsea v Crystal Palace in 2014-15 and Chelsea v Tottenham in 2015-16), and the fourth of those six to be decided in a game involving Chelsea (also West Brom v Chelsea in 2016-17).
- Chelsea have won back-to-back Premier League home games against Manchester City for the first time since the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons.
- Pep Guardiola suffered his fourth defeat against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge – across all competitions, the only away venue he has lost as many games at in his managerial career is Anfield (four against Liverpool).
- This was the 11th time this season that Manchester City have conceded the opening goal in a Premier League game – three more than in the previous two seasons combined (five in 2017-18 and three in 2018-19).
- Christian Pulisic scored his seventh goal of the Premier League season; the most of any player in the competition aged 21 or under.
- Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne became the first player to reach double figures for both goals (10) and assists (16) in the Premier League this season.

What's next?

Liverpool will emerge at the Etihad Stadium as champions, with the main bit of pre-match intrigue now set to revolve around whether a guard of honour is workable in the age of social distancing. Before that, City and Chelsea have away FA Cup quarter-finals on Sunday at Newcastle United and Leicester respectively.

Source Omnisport