A depleted Manchester City laid down a Premier League title marker and piled more pressure on Frank Lampard with an emphatic victory over struggling Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
City were without six players due to an outbreak of coronavirus at the Etihad but still eased to a 3-1 win over Chelsea thanks to first-half goals from Ilkay Gundogan, Phil Foden and Kevin de Bruyne.
The win sees Pep Guardiola’s side climb to fifth in the Premier League table – four points behind joint-leaders Liverpool and Manchester United with a game in hand – while Chelsea slip to eighth.
Much was expected of Lampard’s side following a summer in which they spent more than £250million but they have now won just one of their last seven matches in all competitions.
Despite their absentees, Man City made a bright start to their first fixture of 2021 and should have taken the lead through De Bruyne, who raced through on goal in the opening eight minutes only to fire wide.
The visitors did not have to wait long for their opener, however, as shortly after Gundogan turned well on the edge of the box before beating Blues goalkeeper Edouard Mendy.
De Bruyne then turned from goalscorer to provider as his pass through the legs of Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta found Foden and the England star turned home City’s second.
Man City continued to create chances in a one-sided opening 45 minutes, with Chelsea failing to test stand-in goalkeeper Zack Steffen, who was making his Premier League debut in replace of the absent Ederson.
City’s dominance led to another goal on 34 minutes as Sterling led a superb counter-attack and saw his strike rebound off the bar into the path of De Bruyne, who coolly slotted into the bottom corner.
Chelsea improved marginally after half-time but chances for Lampard’s team were still few and far between, with Mateo Kovacic firing wide with a rare effort.
Manchester City were still the more dangerous team and almost extended their lead through Rodri, who saw a header pushed over the bar by Mendy, and De Bruyne, who twice failed to hit the target.
Second-half substitutes Callum Hudson-Odoi and Kai Havertz combined to score an injury-time consolation goal for Chelsea but Lampard’s mood will not have been lifted on a deflating afternoon for the Blues.
Next up for Chelsea is a FA Cup clash against League Two side Morecambe, while Pep Guardiola’s City face Manchester rivals United on Wednesday night.
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