If there were still any doubts about Manchester City after their amazing start to the season, they were silenced and then some. The Citizens completely dominated Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on their way to a 1-0 win thanks to a screamer from Kevin De Bruyne, and City proved their strength against the reigning champions to make a big statement in the title race.
The first period was completely controlled by City, with Kyle Walker at center-back and a somewhat strange 3-3-3-1 formation designed to dominate midfield and stay safe defensively, and the gameplan worked. Pep Guardiola saw his men absolutely dominate the hosts, using the ball well in the middle and in wide areas to find spaces inside a tight Chelsea defense.
City also pressed well without the ball, and Thibaut Courtois nearly gave away a goal when he tried to hump the ball forward but hit it at the rushing Gabriel Jesus, who ran a lot during the first half. Courtois had to make two very good saves to stop David Silva and Fernandinho, and the only reason City didn’t score was Chelsea’s great goalkeeper.
Antonio Conte’s men had a lot of problems and could not create anything other than a few half-chances on set pieces and hopeful long balls from the back, and at halftime they were lucky not to be down.
City played a great first half, but couldn’t find the goal. They looked close, though.
The final period was exactly like the first, with City dominating the ball even more and Chelsea not having any attacking chances. But the visitors continued to have problems getting inside the Chelsea defense, and that’s when De Bruyne began to shine: Kevin put a couple of very dangerous crosses into the box that nearly became real chances, and after making a gorgeous one-two with Gabriel Jesus the Belgian scored a truly spetacular goal from outside the box to put City ahead.
Conte made two attacking substitutions looking to give Chelsea a chance to win, and the hosts finally committed bodies forward and gave Éderson a bit of trouble. The Brazilian was always alert, though, and made some good interventions towards the end of the match. Pep made some smart changes with Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan coming on in the last few minutes to keep the ball and see the game out, and the plan worked.
This is a gigantic win for City, and it’s not about the table or the title race. This proves that City can win the big games, and it proves that Pep Guardiola’s teams can attack and defend against the best. This is a huge statement for the rest of the Premier League, and City’s impressive start to the season is now validated by a truly fantastic victory against the champions.
Man City: Éderson; Walker, Stones, Otamendi; De Bruyne (Danilo), Fernandinho, Delph; Sterling, Silva (Bernardo), Sané (Gundogan); Jesus
Goal: De Bruyne (67’)
Chelsea: Courtois; Azpilicueta, Rüdiger, Christensen, Cahill, Alonso; Kanté, Fàbregas, Bakayoko (Batshuayi); Hazard (Pedro); Morata (Willian)