Chelsea 2-1 Manchester City: Premier League as it happened

George Flood

Full-time: Chelsea 2-1 Manchester City

  • Chelsea take a big step towards their fifth top-flight title with a pivotal if somewhat nervy victory at Stamford Bridge
  • Eden Hazard's early strike deflects off Vincent Kompany and past the hapless Willy Caballero
  • Sergio Aguero gifted the equaliser after some awful goalkeeping by Thibaut Courtois
  • Caballero saves Hazard's penalty after Pedro is brought down by Fernandinho, but the Belgian reacts fastest to slot home the rebound
  • City dominate the second half but are unable to find another equaliser, with Kompany clipping the crossbar and John Stones wasting a glorious chance in stoppage time
  • This result coupled with Tottenham's remarkable late comeback win in South Wales means that Chelsea's title lead remains at seven points with eight games left to play
  • Pep Guardiola's side stay fourth, two points behind Liverpool and four clear of Arsenal
  • Elsewhere: Swansea 1-3 Tottenham, Liverpool 2-2 Bournemouth
conte-confident-chelsea-are-still-on-track-for-title

That is all for this particular live blog, but stay tuned to IBTimes UK for post-match reaction from Stamford Bridge and around the Premier League.

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Goodbye for now.

Full-time: Chelsea 2-1 Manchester City

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A crucial, nail-biting win for Chelsea, who, thanks to Hazard's first-half brace, take a big step towards their fifth top-flight crown. Their lead over nearest challengers Tottenham remains at seven points with eight games remaining.

City had so much of the ball in that second half but did not create nearly enough chances. They stay fourth, two points behind Liverpool with a game in hand.

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Arsenal, who have played one game less, rise above Manchester United and back to fifth courtesy of a superior goal difference. They are four points adrift of Guardiola's men, whose very faint title hopes have surely now been firmly extinguished.

Kante picks up a yellow card in the dying seconds. Chelsea look to have survived...

What a chance for City to claim a point at the death and dent Chelsea's title bid. A corner from the right deflects into the path of Stones, who sends a volley spinning over the crossbar.

Conte is livid with his defence.

Nolito floats an excellent cross to the back post and Courtois deflects Aguero's effort behind with his knee.

Just three minutes of added time signalled by the fourth official.

Double goalscorer Hazard's race is run. Conte introduces Ruben Loftus-Cheek with his final change.

Josh King equalises for Bournemouth on Merseyside! 2-2 there.

Substitute Willian wins a corner for Chelsea and Fernandinho does just enough to contain Cahill, who looked to have a free run at that header.

Guardiola's second change sees Nolito replace Sane. Five minutes plus stoppage time remaining for City to find an equaliser.

It's all over at Swansea, where Tottenham scored three goals in six minutes to keep their title hopes alive.

Here is a quick round-up of those full-time results:

Arsenal 3-0 West Ham

Hull 4-2 Middlesbrough

Southampton 3-1 Crystal Palace

Swansea 1-3 Tottenham

Still playing at Anfield, where Liverpool currently lead Bournemouth 2-1.

An ill-advised lunge from Kompany on Belgium teammate Hazard rightly earns the City skipper a caution.

Christian Eriksen has notched another goal for Spurs deep into added time. What a dramatic comeback.

Aguero shoots wide from an impossibly tight angle after Luiz gets his head to another City corner.

Conte sends on Willian in place of Fabregas.

With almost 80 minutes on the clock, Guardiola looks to his bench for the first time tonight. De Bruyne makes way for Sterling.

Heung Min-Son completes a remarkable late Spurs turnaround at the Liberty Stadium.

If both results stay the same, then Chelsea's lead at the top of the table will stay at seven points with eight games left to play.

Searching for his hat-trick, Hazard shoots over after Pedro's pull-back evades Fabregas.

Dele Alli taps home an 88th-minute equaliser for Tottenham at Swansea. Chelsea fans begin to grow restless as City continue to dominate possession.

Costa is knocked down by Kompany and Luiz fires a free-kick straight into the wall. Under 20 minutes remaining in West London.

De Bruyne releases Silva, whose low cross from the byline reaches Aguero. However, the impressive Cahill does not give up an inch and yet another City corner comes to nothing.

Chelsea embark upon a rare foray forward. Pedro whips in a low shot that is held by Caballero.

De Bruyne's latest corner is nodded away by Luiz and Courtois confidently claims a Delph cross intended for Kompany.

City have dominated long stretches of this second half but have nothing to show for it.

Silva wins a corner off Kante and Stones soars above Matic to head straight at Courtois.

That was a real chance.

Guardiola and Conte exchange words on the touchline after Mike Dean somehow awards a Chelsea free-kick following a collision between international teammates Silva and Pedro.

That certainly looked like the wrong decision.

Pep Guardiola

Kante and Matic combine to needlessly foul Silva and concede a free-kick in a dangerous position.

De Bruyne's low ball hits Sane and a City corner is then headed clear by Luiz.

Cahill makes an important covering challenge to snuff out the danger posed by Aguero after Luiz goes walkabout once more.

Kante lets fly from range, but his shot cannons off Cahill and wide for a goal kick.

Fernandinho, who looked to be standing in an offside position, volleys over after a hooked ball in from Delph. No flag from the referee's assistant on the far side.

Clichy brings down Fabregas and picks up the first yellow card of the evening.

After a bad Kante foul on Silva, Kompany peels off the back of Matic and finds the crossbar with a looping header.

That was a let-off for Chelsea. Positive start to this second period from City.

As the second half starts, it looks like Azpilicueta will revert back to right centre-back and Pedro will play at wing-back. Fabregas goes wide right and Matic joins Kante in midfield.

It's being reported as another tactical reshuffle from Conte. Zouma is not injured.

Zouma's first start for 14 months comes to an end after 45 minutes. Matic comes on in his place.

A reminder that, as it stands, Chelsea's title lead will be extended back to 10 points.

It's also half-time at Anfield, where Philippe Coutinho equalised for Liverpool after Benik Afobe's early goal.

In the 19.45 BST kick-offs, Tottenham still trail Swansea and it's all square between Southampton and Crystal Palace. Arsenal and West Ham remains goalless, while Hull lead Middlesbrough in a five-goal thriller.

A hugely enjoyable and competitive 45 minutes. Both sides have played some good football, but all three goals were notably scrappy.

Caballero should have saved the opener and only Courtois knows what he was doing for City's equaliser.

Hazard a joy to behold in full flight, although he got a big slice of luck with that penalty rebound. His brace the difference at the interval.

Half-time

Chelsea 2-1 Manchester City

Hazard executes a superb piece of skill to bamboozle Stones, but there is no time left for another Chelsea attack.

The half-time whistle sounds.

One minute of added time to be played at the end of this first half.

The Catalan has been particularly animated so far this evening...

The home fans roar their appreciation after Luiz gets the better of Aguero in a 50/50 challenge near the byline.

Fabregas escapes a booking after mistiming his sliding tackle on compatriot Silva.

City piling on the pressure as they look to get back on level terms. Aguero shoots wide, Cahill blocks Delph's drive and Courtois punches a Kevin De Bruyne cross over the top for a corner.

You've got to feel Caballero there. The Spaniard saves Hazard's spot-kick, but is unable to prevent him from slamming in the rebound.

Chelsea ahead once more. What an engrossing first half.

Eden Hazard

Goal: Chelsea 2-1 Manchester City (Eden Hazard)

Mike Dean shows no hesitation in pointing to the spot after Pedro, cutting inside after a nice pass from Fabregas, nutmegs Fernandinho and is promptly brought down by the Brazilian.

No complaints.

Penalty to Chelsea

Aguero responds to those boos after notching the equaliser...

Sergio Aguero

Fernandinho releases Sane with a lovely through ball and only a brave intervention from Courtois prevents the former Schalke starlet from putting City ahead for the first time tonight.

The towering Belgian redeemed himself there. Chelsea looking rattled.

Costa and Delph engage in some off-the-ball shenanigans. That particular battle is worth keeping an eye on.

A nightmare for Courtois as he inexplicably gifts possession to Silva and then deflects his shot into the path of Aguero, who sidefoots home from close range.

Level pegging at the Bridge. Horrendous goalkeeping.

Goal: Chelsea 1-1 Manchester City (Sergio Aguero)

Aguero stays down in pain after being clattered by Alonso. Guardiola is furious, but Mike Dean controversially waves play on.

Hazard is having a lot of joy down that left-hand side. He sprints forward on the break and picks out Fabregas.

His effort deflects off Clichy and the top of the crossbar. Corner to Chelsea.

David Silva and Aguero combine to good effect and take advantage of some kamikaze defending from Luiz, who gets a telling off from captain Gary Cahill.

The Argentine's low strike is held by Courtois.

Fernandinho receives possession from Aguero and tries his luck from 25 yards after a good decoy run from Navas creates a nice pocket of space.

Comfortable save for Courtois.

A wild strike from Delph ends up in the stands. City lacking a final ball at present.

Things could not be going much better for Chelsea just at the moment. Ahead against City, Tottenham remain behind and Liverpool are also 1-0 down at home to Bournemouth.

As it stands, their lead will stretch back to 10 points.

City push forward in search of an immediate equaliser. Leroy Sane picks out Aguero, whose hopeful strike is blocked by Luiz.

After a relatively even start, Chelsea get their noses in front. Azpilicueta and Pedro combine to set up an unmarked Hazard, whose sweet strike deflects off the head of Kompany and past Willy Caballero.

The goalkeeper should have done much better with that.

Eden Hazard

Goal: Chelsea 1-0 Manchester City (Eden Hazard)

A poor touch from Kante almost offers City an early opening. However, Fabregas does well to dispossess Aguero.

Navas remains at right-back for City tonight, with Delph and Fernandinho shielding the back four.

Diego Costa botches a shooting opportunity after being teed up nicely by the marauding Eden Hazard.

John Stones has to be alert to clear a dangerous Azpilicueta cross after some fine approach play from Chelsea involving a gorgeous switched pass from Fabregas out to Marcos Alonso.

Early boos for Aguero as he goes up against Luiz for the first time following a pass down the right channel from Navas.

Referee Mike Dean blows his whistle and City, decked out in their garish orange and blue third kit, get us underway.

News from South Wales, where Wayne Routledge has given Swansea an 11th-minute lead over Spurs.

That should hand Chelsea a bit of a pre-game boost...

Tonight's four 19.45 BST kick-offs are now off and running. Chelsea fans can be forgiven for keeping one eye on events at the Liberty Stadium, particularly if they slip up again on their own patch.

Third-place Liverpool, 10 points adrift of the leaders as things stand and just one ahead of City having played one game more, host Bournemouth at 20.00.

Plenty of eyes will be fixed on this man tonight. What are the chances he completes 90 minutes for the first time in more than a year?

Addressing that same incident, Guardiola had this to say:

We can talk about Sergio and many things but we are not to going to talk about Sergio or say Sergio Aguero is a dangerous player, please.

We were 1-0 up, created unbelievable chances to go 2-0 or 3-0 and after the reaction what happened with Sergio and Fernandinho is (down to) our frustration because Fernandinho is not one of those guys who is aggressive.

He is one of the sweetest and nicest guys I have ever met. Sergio and Fernandinho are nice guys.

Luiz is still feeling the effects of that Aguero horror tackle, although Conte apparently bears no malice towards the Argentine striker.

"I have a lot of respect for Aguero," he claimed. "What has happened in the past is not important."

City claimed only a second win in their last 19 visits to Stamford Bridge last season, with Sergio Aguero notching a hat-trick and Thibaut Courtois being shown a red card.

As per Opta Sports, Chelsea won eight consecutive league matches against tonight's opponents during a four-year stretch between 2005-09, yet they have now triumphed in just five of the last 15 meetings.

Sergio Aguero

There have also been four red cards in the last five league games - two of which came during a fiery end to a 3-1 Blues win at the Etihad Stadium in December, when Aguero was sent off for an awful lunge on David Luiz and Fernandinho joined him for an early bath after an ugly clash with Fabregas.

Will we see a repeat of those fireworks tonight?

City's official website attempting to second guess Guardiola's tactics...

If Pep Guardiola chooses to employ Fernandinho at right back, Delph should slot into the holding role, with Jesus Navas on the right wing.

If Navas takes the right back position again, Fernandinho would likely move into the holding midfield role, with Leroy Sane and Delph taking the wider positions.

Another option could see Gael Clichy feature as a centre-back and Delph start as a left-wing back.

We'll see how it shakes out. It's probably foolish for a mere mortal to even attempt to tap into the mind of an innovative tactician of Pep's calibre.

A couple of real surprises from Guardiola. Injury-plagued City captain Vincent Kompany starts a league game for the first time since November and lesser-spotted midfielder Fabian Delph gets a rare outing in midfield.

Nicolas Otamendi misses out altogether, while Raheem Sterling has to make do with a spot on the bench.

Conte opts for a sensible tactical switch in defence, with Kurt Zouma coming in at right centre-back, Cesar Azpilicueta sliding out to wing-back in Moses' continued absence and Pedro pushing forward.

Nemanja Matic drops to the bench as Cesc Fabregas partners N'Golo Kante in midfield.

Zouma has not started a top-flight game for 14 months...

Manchester City XI: Caballero, Clichy, Stones, Kompany (c), Fernandinho, Delph, Sane, Silva, De Bruyne, Navas, Aguero

Subs: Bravo, Zabaleta, Kolarov, Fernando, Toure, Sterling, Nolito

Chelsea XI: Courtois, Zouma, David Luiz, Cahill (c), Azpilicueta, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso, Pedro, Diego Costa, Hazard

Subs: Begovic, Ake, Terry, Matic, Loftus-Cheek, Willian, Batshuayi

Official lineups on the way shortly. Stay tuned...

Chelsea will be eager for Swansea to do them a favour tonight and curtail Tottenham's charge.

Influential captain Hugo Lloris' absence from the starting lineup due to illness might just help in that regard. No Harry Kane, Danny Rose or Victor Wanyama either, of course...

Perfect conditions for a game of this magnitude...

While not ready to feature tonight, prolific January signing Gabriel Jesus is well ahead of schedule in his recovery from a fractured metatarsal and Pep Guardiola remains positive that he will be able to play some part during the run-in.

"Yesterday is the first day he started to go to the pitch to run and walk," he said during Tuesday's pre-match press conference.

Gabriel Jesus

"I don't know exactly how many weeks he needs to come back but I think he is at the end of the part of his process to come back, so we will see. Hopefully he can help us in the games at the end of the season."

As for City, Pablo Zabaleta could replace makeshift right-back Jesus Navas after recovering from a thigh strain and featuring for the final moments of Sunday's 2-2 draw at Arsenal.

However, Bacary Sagna is expected to miss two to three more weeks as the result of a torn adductor muscle.

In terms of team news ahead of tonight's headline clash, Chelsea wing-back Victor Moses remains doubtful with a calf injury that forced him to miss that shock 2-1 defeat to Crystal Palace.

Victor Moses

"We have another day to check the situation in the right way," said a typically coy Conte. "We have a couple of situations to check and then make the best decision for the starting 11."

Good evening and a very warm welcome to IBTimes UK's live coverage of what promises to be a pivotal night in the race to be crowned 2016-17 Premier League champions.

My colleagues are across Wednesday's five other top-flight matches, but here our focus falls squarely on events in west London as previously dominant leaders Chelsea look to avoid suffering back-to-back home defeats for the first time for six years in a tough test against a fourth-place Manchester City side hoping to rekindle the spirit of 2012 and overhaul a significant deficit to complete an unlikely title triumph.

Stamford Bridge

With Tottenham also in action at relegation-threatened Swansea, it is possible that the hosts' lead at the top of the table could be cut to just four points with another loss this evening.

Antonio Conte's men surely couldn't blow it from here, could they? It seems unlikely, but stranger things have happened...

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