Manchester City have reminded everyone that they are the reigning champions of the Premier League after condemning Chelsea to their first defeat of the season.
Thomas Tuchel’s men entered the fray with an unbeaten record in this season’s Premier League. Manchester City’s dismal draw against Southampton last weekend and Chelsea’s three consecutive win against Pep Guardiola’s team also gave the home side an extra dose of confidence.
Tuchel went for a 3-5-2, fielding Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner for the first time.
They adopted a conservative approach and were happy to surrender possession in the early stages of the match.
This was the first time these two teams locked horns since the Champions League final in Porto.
While Guardiola was desperate to rectify his wrongs, Tuchel was looking to hurt the Citizens following the same philosophy.
The Blues regularly tried to provoke the visitors into playing a high line so that they could exploit the space left behind.
Timo Werner’s inclusion in the team was a clear giveaway of Tuchel’s intentions even before the match had begun.
The idea was to exploit the German’s incredible pace to stretch the City backline.
But, it did not play out the way Tuchel had hoped since Aymeric Laporte and Ruben Dias dealt with Werner’s threat with sheer diligence.
One of the most questionable calls Guardiola had made in Porto was using Ilkay Gundogan as the midfield anchor.
Gundogan played a more advanced role for the majority of the season. So, he could not make much of a difference playing a deeper role.
Rodri makes a difference
At Stamford Bridge, Guardiola deployed Rodri in front of his defensive line, a decision that ultimately tipped the balance of the tie towards the Citizens.
Rodri isolated the Chelsea attacking duo as he disconnected the supply line.
For the majority of the game, Timo Werner and Romelu Lukaku could not impact the game to the extent they would have wanted to.
Manchester City started the match as the dominant force, but they did not get a clear sight of the goal in the first half.
Phil Foden got the best opportunity of the first half, but he could not keep his shot within target, much to the relief of Chelsea custodian Edouardo Mendy.
Manchester City went into the interval with a ball possession of 70%, but they had nothing to show for it.
However, they finally broke through Chelsea’s seemingly impenetrable defence shortly after the restart.
Joao Cancelo’s shot found its way to Gabriel Jesus’s feet.
The Brazilian, playing a right wing role, did brilliantly to hold on to the ball under severe ppressure and muster a shot.
The ball took a deflection from Jorginho, which took it away from Mendy’s path. The away stand erupted in joy as the ball crept into the lower far corner of the net.
Chelsea showed more urgency after conceding the goal and chose to take a more proactive approach.
Havertz replaces Kante
Kai Havertz came off the bench, replacing N’Golo Kante, and almost got Chelsea back into the game.
The German set up Lukaku for goal, but the linesman lifted his flag as soon as the Belgian put the ball into the back of the net.
City came close to scoring a few more with Jesus seeing Thiago Silva stopping his goal bound effort inches before the goal line and Jack Grealish forcing Mendy into a stunning save.
Manchester City will face PSG and Liverpool next, while Chelsea will take on Juventus and Southampton.