Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling stood out, but Hakim Ziyech was disappointing as Manchester City beat Chelsea 1-0 on Saturday.

Much like the reverse fixture, Manchester City dominated the proceedings for the most part in the first half, with Chelsea looking to hit their hosts on the counter-attack. But clear-cut chances were few and far between, with the Blues defending diligently while struggling to get out of their own half for large portions of the first half.

The only real chance of the first half came when Jack Grealish was denied by Kepa Arrizabalaga after Kevin De Bruyne had forced an error out of Mateo Kovacic. After the interval, Chelsea stepped up the tempo and looked to take the game to Manchester City.

But the deadlock was broken by Manchester City, as Kevin De Bruyne scored a brilliant long-range curler after receiving the ball from Joao Cancelo and evading a tackle by N’Golo Kante. That was the only goal in the game, as Manchester City clinched a 1-0 win to open up a 13-point lead at the top of the table. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over both sets of players.

Manchester City

Ederson Moraes: 7/10

There was precious little that Ederson had to do in the game, but he was alert when Romelu Lukaku forced a big save out of him. Otherwise, the Brazilian concentrated on building up play from the back, doing so smartly.

Kyle Walker: 7/10

Saturday was a rare occasion when Walker was a bit wasteful with the ball at his feet. The English international still posed a great threat on his forays down the right flank and supported Raheem Sterling superbly. He did not have much defensive work to do, with Chelsea hardly threatening the hosts.

John Stones: 6.5/10

Starting ahead of Ruben Dias after shrugging off a knock, Stones was largely solid in his display and marshalled Lukaku brilliantly. There was only one moment when the Chelsea striker got the better of him, but he came through unscathed.

Aymeric Laporte: 6.5/10

Much like his central defensive partner, Laporte was superb in his performance at the back. The Spanish international was imperious in the air, winning each of his aerial duels, which was crucial against an imposing striker like Lukaku.

Joao Cancelo: 7.5/10

Cancelo was as Cancelo usually is in most games. The Portuguese international made the most complicated of touches seem simple and linked up brilliantly with Kevin De Bruyne. In one such moment, Cancelo found De Bruyne in the build-up to the opening goal.

Bernardo Silva: 6/10

Bernardo Silva has been one of the best players for Manchester City this season. But on Saturday, the Portuguese playmaker was uncharacteristically sloppy, losing possession 13 times. He did not really pose a creative threat in what was likely a rare blip for him.

Rodri: 6.5/10

Rodri did not have to do much when it came to keeping things tight in the middle of the park. But the Spaniard was critical in setting a quick tempo for the proceedings while also completing most of his attempted passes. A job well done.

Kevin De Bruyne: 8/10

With Bernardo Silva not at his best, De Bruyne took matters into his own hands and looked to carve out the openings. He was kept quiet superbly by the Chelsea defenders in the first half, but he was not to be denied in the second as he unleashed a brilliant long-range curler to seal all three points for Manchester City.

Raheem Sterling: 8/10

Sterling might not have a goal or an assist to show for his efforts, but he was the only Manchester City player who looked like he would make things happen in the first half. The Englishman had Marcos Alonso on the ropes constantly and forayed into the final third smartly. His performance deserved a better return.

Phil Foden: 5/10

Another player to be back in action after recovering from the coronavirus, Foden reprised the false nine role. The English international attempted to drop deep to find pockets of space, but to no avail for the most part. The youngster was sloppy in possession, losing the ball a staggering 18 times while also failing to test the Chelsea defenders.

Jack Grealish: 6/10

Amid a swarm of roster issues, Grealish got a chance to impress, with Guardiola deploying him on the left wing. The Englishman struggled to get into the game even though Manchester City dominated possession. He did get the best chance of the first half, but was denied superbly by Kepa Arrizabalaga.

SUBSTITUTES

Ilkay Gundogan: N/A

A late introduction, Gundogan helped see the game out.

Gabriel Jesus: N/A

A late introduction, Jesus barely saw the ball late in the game.

Chelsea

Kepa Arrizabalaga: 6/10

While Manchester City dominated, Kepa did not have many saves to make, although he denied Jack Grealish superbly late in the first half. However, he could not have done much to keep out Kevin De Bruyne’s effort, although he should have been positioned better.

Antonio Rudiger: 7/10

Rudiger was colossal in his performance on Saturday and never let Grealish get on top of him. Some of his recovery runs were top-class, and he made several important clearances — one of the Chelsea players who did not deserve to be on the losing side.

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Thiago Silva: 7/10

Like Rudiger, Silva did well to keep Phil Foden quiet, for the most part, making several clearances and interceptions to keep the Manchester City attacker quiet. And despite Manchester City’s relentless pressing, he retained a top-notch passing rate of 93 per cent.

Malang Sarr: 7/10

Retained in the starting lineup after his impressive performance against Tottenham Hotspur, Sarr continued from where he left off in the midweek clash. He was constantly in a battle with Sterling and played out an even duel with the Englishman. Like Silva, he also evaded the Manchester City press with superb passing. His stock continues to grow.

Cesar Azpilicueta: 6/10

Azpilicueta played out a fairly unspectacular game, although he hardly ever let Joao Cancelo get on top of him, completing six clearances and five tackles. The Spaniard also played out from the back smartly, completing 92 per cent of his attempted passes.

N’Golo Kante: 6/10

Kante was relentless in his pressing on Saturday and also looked to keep a check on Kevin De Bruyne’s output. While the Frenchman was successful in doing so for the most part, De Bruyne slipped off him in the build-up to the match-winning goal.

Mateo Kovacic: 7.5/10

Kovacic was, by far, the most impressive Chelsea player in the game. The Croat put in a tireless performance in the middle of the park and did well to keep the creative output of his opposite numbers to a bare minimum. He completed some brilliant interceptions and tackles while also playing a key pass.

Marcos Alonso: 5/10

Alonso had his fair share of troubles against Sterling, who had the measure of him for the most part. The Spaniard could never express himself as a result and barely carried a threat down the left flank. Chelsea must invest in a left wing-back soon.

Hakim Ziyech: 4/10

The Player to Watch in our preview, Ziyech needed to be at his best to carve out the openings for Chelsea, especially with Mason Mount surprisingly benched by Thomas Tuchel. However, the Moroccan was a liability for Chelsea, with his passing off the mark by a lot. He has to do better.

Christian Pulisic: 5/10

Pulisic started ahead of Timo Werner, which was another surprising call by Tuchel. And like Ziyech, the USMNT international was dreadful on the day. He was nowhere to be seen on the pitch before being the first man to be substituted. He is running out of chances.

Romelu Lukaku: 5/10

Lukaku’s struggles in games against ‘Big Six’ clubs continued on Saturday, with the Belgian striker struggling to get into the game. His decision making also left a lot to be desired, and in one moment, he inexplicably chose to find Hakim Ziyech instead of taking a shot himself with the goal at his mercy.

SUBSTITUTES

Timo Werner: 6/10

On for Pulisic, Werner could not get into the game, with Manchester City not letting their guard slip late in the proceedings.

Callum Hudson-Odoi: 6/10

Introduced in place of Ziyech, Hudson-Odoi did not get any opportunity to influence the proceedings.

Mason Mount: N/A

Inexplicably omitted from the starting lineup by Tuchel, Mount was sent into the game too late for him to make his mark.

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