'Massive' win for City but it is still early days
Fabian Delph described Manchester City’s win at Chelsea as “massive”, but warned the season is only just beginning.
Kevin De Bruyne scored the only goal against his former club, but City might have had more as the blue side of Manchester consolidated their position at the top of the English Premier League.
Former Aston Villa midfielder Delph was deployed at left wing-back and impressed in a strong team performance in City’s sixth win from seven league games this season.
“Winning here is huge, massive,” Delph said.
“We knew coming in it would be our toughest game yet this season. We had a game plan and we stuck to it and come out for three points.
“It sends out a massive message. We needed to come out on top and there’s a massive togetherness in the team.
“We stuck to the game plan. The plan was to stop them on the counter and we did the job down to a tee, so it’s happy days.
“It’s very nice but we know it’s just the beginning, it’s good to maintain the winning streak.”
Delph again deputised for Benjamin Mendy, who is out until April with a serious knee injury.
“That performance was for our team-mate, Benjamin,” Delph added.
“He sent us a message before the game and we knew we had to do it for him. That win is for you big man.”
Delph has been a peripheral figure since joining City from Villa in July 2015, but he has been recalled to the England squad for this month’s final World Cup qualifiers, against Slovenia and Lithuania.
City boss Pep Guardiola praised Delph and reckons Gareth Southgate can benefit from including the midfielder in his squad.
Guardiola said: “He’s a midfield player, when he receives the ball he doesn’t lose one ball.
“I’m so happy for him. I’m so happy to go to the national team for England, because I think England can use him a lot, maybe more than I used him last season.”
Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte insisted his side performed as well as they could, but were simply beaten by the better team.
Conte’s future was again the subject of speculation yesterday, but suggestions the Italian will leave at the end of the season were privately dismissed as false.
Chelsea are six points behind City going into the international break.
Defender Antonio Rudiger said: “We all wanted more from this game to get closer to the Manchester teams. We didn’t get the result we wanted and of course there is disappointment.
“There’s a lot of games to go for all the teams. We just need to prepare well and we’re going to keep going.”
Striker Alvaro Morata went off in the first half with a hamstring injury and is expected to miss international duty with Spain.
Conte said: “To lose Alvaro Morata is a bad loss.
“In this case when you play three games in seven days it’s normal, this type of problem.
“It’s not a serious problem because he stopped before it became serious.”