Leaders City hit six on Boxing Day as Chelsea, Arsenal post wins
27 December 2021, 12:08 pm
Manchester City opened up a six-point lead at the top of the Premier League with a first-half demolition of Leicester in a thrilling 6-3 win as Chelsea got back on track with a 3-1 victory at Aston Villa on Sunday.
Three of the scheduled nine Boxing Day matches were postponed due to coronavirus outbreaks as Britain battles record numbers of cases caused by the Omicron strain of the virus.
Earlier this week, Premier League clubs rejected the option of temporarily halting the season to allow a circuit breaker for infections.
And a stop to the season may be the only way to slow City’s charge towards a fourth title in five seasons as Pep Guardiola’s men have now won nine league games in a row.
Leicester appeared to have been blown away by four goals inside 25 minutes but rallied to 4-3 at one point hurting City with rapid breaks to make the champions fight for the three points.
Kevin De Bruyne blasted home to open the floodgates before Riyad Mahrez netted against his former club from the penalty spot.
Ilkay Gundogan rounded off a brilliant City team move to make it 3-0 before Raheem Sterling won and converted the champions’ second penalty.
Leicester produced a stirring second-half fightback thanks to James Maddison.
The midfielder pulled a goal back before leading a break finished off by Ademola Lookman.
Kelechi Iheanacho made it 4-3 when he bundled home from close range after Ederson could only turn Maddison’s shot onto the bar.
But City quickly restored some order as Aymeric Laporte powered home from a corner and Sterling rounded off the scoring from close range.
After one win in their previous four league games, Chelsea came from behind against a Villa team without boss Steven Gerrard due to a positive coronavirus test.
Hampered by injuries and COVID-19 absences, Chelsea had surrendered the top spot during a spluttering run before Christmas.
They were in trouble again when Reece James headed Matt Targett’s cross into his own net in the 28th minute.
But Jorginho equalized six minutes later, the Italian stroking home a penalty after Matt Cash tripped Callum Hudson-Odoi.
Romelu Lukaku came off the bench at half-time and, in the 65th minute, the Belgian striker headed just his sixth Chelsea goal since his move from Inter Milan.
Lukaku won a stoppage-time penalty after his powerful run was halted by Ezri Konsa’s foul and once again Jorginho did the job from the spot.
Third-placed Chelsea are level on points with second-placed Liverpool, whose game against Leeds was one of Sunday’s COVID-19 postponements.