The scoreline might only read 1-0 but this was a convincing performance from champions-elect Manchester City.
And while the goals might not have poured in the Manchester rain, City’s midfield certainly did reign, with Bernardo Silva, David Silva, Ilkay Gundogan, Kevin De Bruyne and Leroy Sane on song.
Formner Monaco man Bernardo popped up less than a minute into the second half to score the only goal, but it was all Man City as Pep Guardiola’s men enjoyed a staggering 80 per cent of the possession against the current champions of England.
Here, we rate Guardiola’s side in victory.
MANCHESTER CITY (4-3-3)
Ederson 6 – Might have expected to have a bit more to do than usual with the champions in town, but was untested with no shots on target.
Kyle Walker 5 – Not the England man’s best game as Chelsea’s best play came down his side in the second half.
Nicolas Otamendi 7 – Was often a figure of comedy in the first half of the season but has proved to be City’s rock in 2018.
Aymeric Laporte 6 – Still finding his feet in England but could not have hoped for a more straightforward day at the office.
Oleksandr Zinchenko 6 – Chelsea may have thought of the young Ukrainian as a weak link they could exploit. Couldn’t get close enough to him.
Kevin De Bruyne 7 – Even when he has one of his quieter games, is better than most on the field. Knitted his side’s play from his deep, central role.
Ilkay Gundogan 7 – Even when Chelsea cleared their lines, must have been demoralised by seeing the ball land at the feet of the metronomic German to launch yet another attack.
David Silva 8 – In his eighth season at City but proving he’s as vital as ever. Glides across the field. City’s talisman.
Bernardo Silva 8 – Getting a run of games and proving he’s not the only shiny piece of Silvaware City possess in their treasure chest.
Sergio Aguero 7 – Would have hoped to have done more with his sights of goal, but his sniping runs kept Chelsea defenders on their toes.
Leroy Sane 8 – Graceful and hard-working, he is a dream for Pep Guardiola. Controlled the ball sublimely and unlucky not to score.
Gabriel Jesus N/A – Came on to give the industrious Aguero a rest.
Danillo N/A – Replaced the reliable Zinchenko late in the day.
Phil Foden N/A – The youngster was given a few minutes to stretch the legs.
The scoreline did not reflect City’s dominance of a one-sided contest at the Etihad Stadium, with fading champions Chelsea offering little as they slipped to a fourth defeat in five league games.
The visitors did at least make City dig deep for their victory as, playing without a recognised striker they sat back, but Silva’s 46th-minute breakthrough was no less than the hosts deserved.
It extended City’s lead at the top of the table to 18 points and left them only four wins from the title, while Chelsea were cut five points adrift of the top four in fifth place.
It was an emotional occasion for Chelsea boss Antonio Conte following the sudden death of his former Italy international player Davide Astori. The Italian wore a black armband in tribute.
Chelsea were also without their midfield talisman N’Golo Kante through illness and his absence showed as City completely dominated possession in the first half.
City boss Pep Guardiola, his yellow ribbon again briefly visible before covering it up with a scarf, watched as City controlled possession and Chelsea struggled to cross the halfway line.
Sergio Aguero, chasing his 200th City goal, had the hosts’ first attempt on goal but Antonio Rudiger blocked his shot.
Aguero then teed up Silva after one of several mazy runs by the impressive Leroy Sane but the Portuguese curled just over the bar.
Another moment of magic from Sane almost yielded a goal as he showed exquisite control to bring down a Kevin de Bruyne free-kick but Cesar Azpilicueta blocked on the line.
City did get the ball in the net before the break but Nicolas Otamendi’s tap-in was ruled out for offside against Aguero.
Chelsea showed little ambition and they threatened just once in the first half.
Referee Michael Oliver played advantage after a Oleksandr Zinchenko caught Victor Moses with a late tackle and Willian forced Ederson to save with his feet. Zinchenko was eventually booked for the challenge but some may argue that was lenient and, after a number of other rash challenges, he was perhaps fortunate not to see a red card.
City were rewarded for their superiority within a minute of the restart. Aguero regained possession on the edge of the box and found the outstanding David Silva on the left. The Spaniard’s cross was turned in by his namesake Bernardo at the far post.
Is that the first Silva Silva goal?— ManCityMad (@ManCityMad2) March 4, 2018
That finally stirred Chelsea into action and a Cesc Fabregas break created an opening for Moses but he shot into the side-netting.
Conte finally decided to introduce a striker after 78 minutes, but it was Olivier Giroud, and not Morata, that initially got the call. Morata entered the fray in the last minute but Chelsea’s last chance came and went as Marcos Alonso sliced wide.
Arsene Wenger remains under intense pressure as his Arsenal side were deservedly beaten by an impressive Brighton side at the AMEX Stadium on Sunday.
The Gunners went into the contest on the back of damaging defeats to Manchester City in both the Carabao Cup final and the Premier League, as well as losing the home leg of their Europa League tie with Ostersund.
And their season continues to unravel following this 2-1 reverse, with a large section of the travelling support calling for Wenger’s head at one point in the first half.
Wenger had said confidence was low at the Emirates Stadium and it showed as Seagulls skipper Lewis Dunk opened the scoring on seven minutes before Glenn Murray doubled the advantage.
Arsenal responded in fits and starts, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang turning home the consolation before the interval, but the Gunners left for north London still with only three away league wins to their name this season.
While Arsenal are low on self-belief, Brighton are flying as they remain unbeaten in all competitions since January 20, have two players up for the Premier League player of the month award and, in Chris Hughton, a boss nominated for the manager’s accolade.
That stark contrast in form showed early on as Brighton took the lead from a run of the mill corner, Petr Cech far too easily beaten in the air by Shane Duffy, who headed back across goal for Dunk to slam in the opener.
Wenger’s side were seemingly under threat every time Brighton broke clear, and Shkodran Mustafi was forced to block Jose Izquierdo’s effort behind and Dunk headed over when well-placed from the resulting set-piece.
The recalled Alex Iwobi then played Arsenal into trouble, smashing a clearance straight at Anthony Knockaert, who should have scored after exchanging passes with Pascal Gross.
Further individual errors would cost Arsenal later in the half as Laurent Koscielny’s pass out of defence was misplaced and the Seagulls broke forward, with Gross crossing in for Murray to head home unmarked for his sixth goal in as many games, with Cech at fault once again.
Frustration began to creep into the Arsenal players, with Jack Wilshere picking up a booking for a poor challenge on Knockaert towards the end of the first half.
But they would halve the arrears before heading in for the break, Iwobi capitalising on some uncertain Brighton defending and passing to Granit Xhaka, whose pass was turned home by Aubameyang.
Koscielny came close to atoning for his earlier mistake as he crashed a header off the post in stoppage time, with Brighton hanging on to their lead as Stuart Attwell blew for half-time.
The second half started evenly, with Mesut Ozil stinging the palms of Mathew Ryan with a drilled effort before a flashpoint on 65 minutes as Sead Kolasinac, already booked, ploughed into Ezequiel Schelotto.
The Brighton man was forced off as a result but Kolasinac escaped further punishment for the incident, much to the dismay of the home support.
Wenger turned to Danny Welbeck, Eddie Nketiah and Hector Bellerin from the bench but it was Murray who scored for Brighton – only to have it rightly chalked off for offside.
Arsenal, in the manner true to a team chasing a result, had all of the ball in the closing stages with Aubameyang coming the closest to salvaging a point for his side, but they could not find the equaliser they craved.