Manchester City wingers Riyad Mahrez and Jack Grealish entered in the 60th minute against Chelsea and combined for the only goal three minutes later to narrow the gap to Premier League leaders Arsenal
Manchester City trimmed the gap to Premier League leader Arsenal to five points by beating Chelsea 1-0 on Thursday after a double substitution by Pep Guardiola paid off immediately at Stamford Bridge.
Riyad Mahrez and Jack Grealish entered in the 60th minute and combined for the only goal three minutes later, with Mahrez tapping in from close range after a perfectly weighted cross by his fellow winger.
City only came to life in the second half after a curiously passive display before halftime, perhaps brought on by a confusing team selection by Guardiola that saw a number of players deployed in unusual roles.
Known for his overthinking at times, Guardiola accepted after the game he got it wrong. That's why he took off two full backs — Joao Cancelo and Kyle Walker — at halftime and restored Rodri to center midfield, with the Spaniard having also been in a hybrid role covering central defense, too.
Suddenly, City was all over Chelsea and creating chances, even if top scorer Erling Haaland was largely kept quiet and Kevin De Bruyne shone only fleetingly.
“In the second half, it was miles better in all departments,” said Guardiola, who reserved special praise for halftime sub, the 18-year-old Rico Lewis, because he “changed the game.”
The goal came after Guardiola's second double change, though it might have been kept out had Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga stretched out to block Grealish’s low cross from the left rather than pull away his arm.