Man City strengthen grip on EPL title with 8-point lead

AP , Thursday 30 Dec 2021

Manchester City's grip on its Premier League title hasn't been this strong all season.

Phil Foden
Manchester City s Phil Foden celebrates after teammate Aymeric Laporte scored a goal that was later disallowed by VAR during the English Premier League soccer match between Brentford and Manchester City at the Brentford Community Stadium in London, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2021 (AP)

A 1-0 win at Brentford, coupled with Chelsea conceding a stoppage-time goal to draw 1-1 against Brighton, left the defending champions with an eight-point lead heading into the new year.

It has been an almost perfect 24 hours for City, which saw Liverpool _ another rival for the title _ surprisingly lose 1-0 at injury-hit Leicester on Tuesday. Chelsea has moved a point ahead of third-place Liverpool before their meeting at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, when at least one of the teams will drop points.

Liverpool has a game in hand, but will soon lose star forwards Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane to the African Cup of Nations.

City wasn't at its fluent best against Brentford _ Pep Guardiola's team came into the match having scored 17 goals in its last three matches _ but still did enough to earn a 10th straight win in the league.

Phil Foden grabbed the winner in the 16th minute, diverting a cross from Kevin De Bruyne into the net from close range. Video review showed Foden was just onside when he applied the finish.

It was the perfect way for Foden to mark his return to the starting lineup, alongside Jack Grealish, after both forwards were dropped to the bench for City's last two games for disciplinary reasons.

CHELSEA DENIED

It's three draws in four league matches for Chelsea, whose strong early-season form has disappeared.

Danny Welbeck earned Brighton a point that was deserved on the basis of the visitors' second-half showing when he headed in a cross from Marc Cucurella in the first minute of stoppage time

Romelu Lukaku scored for the second straight game to put Chelsea in front in the 28th minute.

Making matters worse for Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel was the sight of right wing back Reece James hobbling off midway through the first half with a hamstring injury. Chelsea also had to replace another defender, Andreas Christensen, because of injury at halftime.

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