Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola says the Premier League title race is far from over, despite seeing his team end 2021 with eight points ahead at the top of the table following the win over Brentford.
With Chelsea held to a 1-1 draw by Brighton earlier on Wednesday and Liverpool losing 1-0 to Leicester the day before, City took advantage by looking from a lively Bees squad.
Phil Foden settled the meeting with his fifth league goal of the season early in the first half and he finished excellently the first time from Kevin de Bruyne’s whipped ball.
The victory was City’s 10th in a row, leaving them in a leading position at the top. The two previous times City rounded off December in first place in the Premier League – in 2011-12 and 2017-18 – they won the title.
“There are 54 points to play for,” Guardiola said.
“Thank you all for your kind words because we win, but I do not want to believe that any words you say about it have already been done or expected because Chelsea and Liverpool are more than exceptional. One is European champions, and the other has been our great rivals over the years.
“The distance is not because they lose points, but because we win 10 games in a row.”
City sought to equal the club’s top record by scoring at least four goals in four consecutive games set in 1905, but they rarely cut up a hard-working Bees side.
Ivan Toney was lucky to go unpunished to catch Fernandinho with his buds as the City midfielder lay on the ground shortly before the break.
The visitors were close to doubling their lead shortly after the break when De Bruyne and Foden reunited, with the latter heading his team-mate’s post just past the post.
De Bruyne hit the bottom of the upright with a fiercely low drive from distance, while Dias got a header ruled out for a marginal offside, but in the end, Foden’s first half was enough to close out the victory.
Brentford, meanwhile, remain 14th with 20 points – nine from the relegation zone as they look to secure another season in the top league.
The decisive attack had actually come moments after the hosts were close to scoring themselves, but Ederson responded well to keep a post out that bounced against the City goal from Ruben Dias before Yoane Wissa’s deflected attack was cleared by the line .
City grind it out to keep track
What appeared to be a three-horse title race in early December, City now have a solid lead after an incredible form race while their rivals faltered.
City have won every single Premier League match they have played in December, scoring 24 goals in the process and conceding just five.
But while their previous three wins involved them scoring seven, four and six goals, this was a narrow but hard-fought victory that no doubt only serves to strengthen their credentials as favorites for the 2021-22 title.
Being able to create results is just as important as noting big wins, and they managed to get to the top against a physical Brentford team that delivered a rigorous test for Guardiola’s team.
The only glimmer of hope for City’s title rivals is that they did not look at their floating best, especially in the second half, but in the end they had done enough to secure the points as Brentford rarely seemed to threaten an equalizer.
The Bees certainly deserve credit for limiting a previously widespread city to just the lone goal, and despite the defeat, it was a battle performance suggesting they have a good chance of retaining their Premier League status for another season.
Too early to write off rivals, or is the title race over?
Only five times before has there been a gap of at least eight points at the top of the Premier League table at the end of a year, and on each of those occasions the manager has won the title.
The team at the top heading into January has also won the title in eight of the last 12 seasons, although City continued to become champions last season despite finishing eighth at the end of December.
“I would not write off Liverpool and Chelsea yet,” former Blackburn and Chelsea striker Chris Sutton said on BBC Radio 5 live.
“Liverpool have been on extraordinary runs, but the City standard is phenomenal.”
Former Manchester City defender Nedum Onuoha added: “It’s not the end of the game, but it’s pretty important. City would have to have a mini-disaster between now and the end of the season.
“Four or five weeks ago it felt like Chelsea were at the top, but all of a sudden Chelsea and Liverpool have had a little dive and City look pretty good.”
Former Newcastle striker Alan Shearer believes that if City win their next two games – away against Arsenal on Saturday and at home against Chelsea on January 15 – then the title race is over.
“The impressive thing is the number of goals they score,” he said on Amazon Prime.
“But other than that [the 6-3 win over] Leicester on Christmas Day are unlikely to give in either, which will make it really difficult for Chelsea and Liverpool to get back in the race, especially if you look at City’s next two games. [if they win] it’s pretty much over. “
- 29Bech Sørensen
- 15OnyekaReplaced forBidstrupon 75 ‘minutes
- 2ThompsonReplaced forGhoddoson 82 ‘minutes
- 11WarnReplaced forCanoeson 69 ‘minutes
- 3Ruben Dias
- 17De Bruyne
- 20Bernardo silva
- 9Gabriel Jesus
- 47The foot
Match ends, Brentford 0, Manchester City 1.
Second half ends, Brentford 0, Manchester City 1.
Phil Foden (Manchester City) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Ethan Pinnock (Brentford).
Attempt rescued. Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City) left footed shot from a difficult angle on the right is saved in the top center. Assisted by Kevin De Bruyne.
Phil Foden (Manchester City) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Mads Bech Sørensen (Brentford).
Violation of Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City).
Mads Bech Sørensen (Brentford) wins a free kick in his own half.
Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City) wins a free kick in his own half.
Foul by Ivan Toney (Brentford).
VAR decision: No goal Brentford 0-1 Manchester City.
Offside, Manchester City. Kevin De Bruyne tries a through ball, but Aymeric Laporte is caught offside.
Phil Foden (Manchester City) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Mads Roerslev (Brentford).
João Cancelo (Manchester City) wins a free kick in his own half.
Foul by Saman Ghoddos (Brentford).
Jack Grealish (Manchester City) wins a free kick in his own half.
Foul by Mathias Jensen (Brentford).
Replacement, Brentford. Saman Ghoddos replaces Dominic Thompson because of an injury.
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