Only Liverpool and Manchester United have given Pep Guardiola as much torment in his career as Chelsea have, and with several first-team players out with or isolating due to Covid-19, his heart must have been racing. There was no Ederson, Gabriel Jesus, Eric Garcia, Ferran Torres, and Aymeric Laporte in the matchday squad. But Manchester City had not lost since the 2-0 loss to Tottenham, winning 7 and drawing 3 in the 10 games since then. They were riding that momentum as they surged up the league table and qualified for the semi-final of the Carabao Cup and the next round of the UEFA Champions League.
Chelsea on the other hand are in a rut. 1 win in their last 6 and the performances have been direr than the results. They have been plagued by the same issues from last season and the beginning of the current one. A lack of organization, structural deficiencies, struggling new players, and a novice coach. It was bound to entertain with both coaches looking to attack, but in that kind of game, there was only going to be one winner between Frank Lampard and Pep Guardiola.
Chelsea had a penalty shout early on as Rodri brought down Timo Werner who had one leg inside the box but Anthony Taylor does not give it. They got a bizarre free-kick in the 4th minute after Zack Steffen picked up a back-pass, but they wasted the chance. Not a good start for the debutant but after that, the City players begin to establish themselves in the game and when they do that, it means trouble.
They carve Chelsea open but Kevin De Bruyne misses the target trying to drag his finish away from Mendy’s legs on 15. Incredible Chelsea’s positioning or lack thereof there. The ball was slipped through Kurt Zouma, Thiago Silva, and N’golo Kante. City players continue to probe and get their goal after a rasping move between Oleksandr Zinchenko, Phil Foden, and Ilkay Gundogan. The latter fires in on 18. 1-0. Shocking positioning again from Chelsea.
City are schooling Chelsea now as another move bypasses Chelsea’s midfield and De Bruyne sets up Foden on 20. 2-0. Another ruthless counter after Kante loses the ball as the deepest midfielder on 34 and Raheem Sterling hits the post before De Bruyne smashes it in. 3-0. First good sequence from Chelsea but Ceasar Azpilicueta blasts the cross away on 37. The Spanish full-back had a torrid game in his 400th appearance for the club in the absence of Reece James. City as a team were too good for the haphazard Chelsea. Half-time.
No change to either side as they come out of the tunnel. Chelsea players come out and look to dominate but their pressing is so disorganized that it looks like City can breeze through them in a matter of seconds. Rodri wins the ball easily from Kovacic after a flat Zouma pass but Foden’s cross veers off on 50. Chelsea began to string some passes together but they did not trouble City’s goal. City have about 5 minutes between 58 and 62 where Chelsea players barely touch the ball but their only shot from the sequence is from De Bruyne and it is wide.
Billy Gilmour is on for Kante and he losses the ball and Sterling is running at Silva. The final ball is picked from De Bruyne’s leg by Mendy on 65. Ziyech is also off for Callum Hudson-Odoi. Chelsea need almost their entire 11 in their half to escape City’s press. 75 minutes in and Fernandinho is on for Gundogan who has taken Chelsea’s midfield to school with a goal to boot. Kai Havertz is on for Kovacic who is in danger of a red card.
Silva is adjudged to have brought Sterling down but De Bruyne’s free-kick only rattles the wall. Sergio Kun Aguero is on and Chelsea fans must have been pleading with their stars considering his record against them. He has scored more Premier League goals against Chelsea than any other player in the competition’s history (10). Riyad Mahrez is on for Foden too. Kai Havertz with a terrific cross in the final minute for Hudson-Odoi to turn home. Too little too late.
The scoreline flatters Chelsea’s performance as their structure looked amateurish time and time again. City were not as clinical in the 2nd half even though they were just as dangerous, pulling Chelsea’s mindless press to open up chance after chance.
Frank Lampard admitted that he is feeling the pressure and the big article from The Athletic claiming that the Chelsea board is considering his position is not going to help. The article is from the very knowledgeable duo of Liam Twomey and Simon Johnson so there must be some truth behind it. Frank Lampard has done a great job managing this team up to this point but they might need a new manager to take them a step further.
The article from The Athletic claims Mauricio Pochettino would have been first choice but he is now in Paris and heading the PSG project. Manuel Veth of Transfermarkt believes the club is looking at Julian Nagelsmann, while earlier rumors claim that Thomas Tuchel impressed Director Marina Granovskaia in an interview. Decisions to make, tough decisions.
City were rampant and looked like the side that lifted the title 2 years ago. They ripped Chelsea apart from side to side even without a true striker in the starting eleven. They are 4 points off table-toppers Manchester United and Liverpool with a game in hand. City looked like a side ready to mount a title challenge with the way they played. Props to Guardiola for a good job steering this side after a shaky start.