Alonso on the reality of a difficult fight ahead and the fairness of postponements

A third Premier League defeat of the season for Chelsea in the north-west left us trailing in the wake of Manchester City in the title race and Marcos Alonso admitted afterwards that the 13-point gap to the league leaders would be a difficult obstacle to overcome.

In a game of few big chances in which neither side registered an xG (expected goals) over one, it was Pep Guardiola’s men who stole all three points courtesy of Kevin De Bruyne’s fine strike in the 70th minute, a curling effort that took Kepa Arrizabalaga by surprise and flew inside the far post.

The Blues were left rueing a lack of final-third precision and the spurning of our only significant opportunity in front of goal when Romelu Lukaku was denied by Ederson early in the second half.

For Alonso, the sight of the defending champions moving further into the distance with their 12th successive league victory was a reality shock, leaving Chelsea now requiring an improbable fightback in the final four months of the campaign..

‘It’s disappointing,’ our Spanish defender admitted about the result. ‘It was maybe the last chance to keep on fighting for the Premier League. We will keep trying until the end, until it’s gone mathematically, but it will be difficult now.

‘We need to think about Brighton in three days, win that one, keep training hard and not look at the table at this moment.’

City dominated the usual match metrics including possession and attempts, with Thomas Tuchel bemoaning his side’s lack of composure and cutting edge, which saw them record just one effort on goal throughout the 90 minutes.

That fell to Lukaku from a neat Mateo Kovacic through ball but the Belgian was denied by a smart stop before his countryman De Bruyne provided the decisive blow to the Blues once again, contributing his fifth goal against his former employers in as many league outings.

‘The chances were there but we just lacked a bit of good decision-making in the last third to create even more chances or to score the couple of chances we had,’ explained Alonso.

‘It was a tough game but we knew it would be and still we had some chances even if we were not fully in control of the game and the possession. We defended well and all together.

‘We had a couple of chances to go 1-0 up and we were not that far from getting something from the match. We expected something like this before the game but we competed well so of course we are disappointed.’

Tuchel lacked options with two wing-backs and two centre-halves missing from the squad, leaving Alonso as the only recognised left-sided defender in Ben Chilwell’s long-term absence.

With a hectic schedule and always plenty of pressure to produce, the burden of responsibility weighs heavily on the 31-year-old but he refuses to look for excuses.

‘There are a lot of games but I just focus on recovering and getting ready for the next one,’ he continued. ‘It’s tough sometimes but it’s what we like, to play games, so I’m not going to complain about that.

‘The calendar is busy but it is what it is and we have no excuses. We have a deep squad so we cannot complain about injuries and try to find excuses. We need to keep working hard.

‘We have a lot of great players in this squad so with determination and a lot of hard training, we can do anything and fight for everything.’

With news of Arsenal’s postponement request for the north London derby having been accepted filtering around the Etihad Stadium after the final whistle, Alonso chose the right words to relay the feeling from the Chelsea dressing room.

‘It’s difficult but I think it should be the same for everyone and all teams treated the same,’ he added. ‘We had some games with a lot of players out, some games with only four defenders, but we still had to play.

‘It has to be fair for everyone to have the same treatment from the Premier League, not just some games yes, some games no.’

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