Wow guys. What a performance from Manchester City on the road at Chelsea FC. Everything leading up to the match felt like it favored Thomas Tuchel’s London Blues. At the end of the day however, Pep Guardiola’s side put in a dominant effort against the European Champions.
Chelsea are clearly one of the most talented clubs in the world, and City came in to their stadium today and pinned them in their own end for large portions of the game. It was a classic display of Pep’s offense-is-the-best-defense style. Chelsea saw very little of the ball. When they were able to venture into City’s half, defensive pair Ruben Dias and Aymeric LaPorte made quick work of them.
Tuchel had beaten Guardiola three straight heading in to today’s match, and there was no reason to believe this match would be any different. City were coming off a disappointing home draw to Southampton in which they failed to score. Chelsea had yet to concede form the run of play on the season. At the final whistle, the Sky Blues had shown their championship class and finally solved the riddle of their rivals from London.
Man City were on the front foot from the opening kick. City set up shop in Chelsea’s end early and did not relent throughout the half. The heavy dose of possession did not translate into any real danger, and looked like Pep’s boys might struggle to unlock Chelsea’s defense once more. Tuchel’s back three setup continued to stymie City as it had since the German manager’s arrival.
The teams headed to the dressing rooms level, but neither boss appeared to change their tactics for the second half. At the kickoff, City once again pushed forward and looked to probe for the opening goal. The Sky blues started to ask a few more questions of Chelsea goalkeeper Édouard Mendy. Jack Grealish tried to bend one buy him in the 48th but his attempt sailed just wide. After a Timo Werner venture into the City end that was smothered by LaPorte, Rúben Dias, and João Cancelo, the visitors were back on the hunt.
After having won a corner, Cancelo received the ball in the succeeding run of play just outside the area. He let loose a low shot that deflected off the sea of Chelsea defenders onto the feet of Gabriel Jesus. Jesus. turned into what looked like an impenetrable mass of royal blue shirts and somehow got off a shot that deflected past Mendy for the 53rd minute breakthrough.
Jesus almost had a second in the 61st. With Chelsea now opened up to chase the equalizer. City stopped a Chelsea break and quickly turned back toward Mendy. Grealish found Cancelo wide, and João sent a cross to the penalty spot. Mendy came off his line to lunge for it, but his deflection wet straight to Jesus who sent a side footed hot toward the gaping goalmouth. The ageless Thiago Silva, who had replaced the injured Reece James in the first half, plucked the ball off the line and prevented Man City from doubling their lead.
Chelsea attempted to push forward and level the match, but Ederson was never really tested. The Brazilian, who had spent much of the first half as a spectator, was crisp and decisive with any ball that came near the penalty area. It was a rock-steady performance that never seemed in danger of allowing a goal.
The lone exception being on what looked like a 63rd minute breakdown of the City back line. Marcos Alonso found Champions League hero Kai Havertz with a header into Ederson’s area. Havertz found Romelu Lukaku streaking toward the net and the Belgian striker slotted home for the leveling goal. The assistant’s flag came up for offside, and replays showed Havertz was clearly behind City’s backline when the ball from Alonso was played.
Nooooo offside !!!— Bitter and Blue (@BitterandBlue1) September 25, 2021
City kept the pressure on from there, and one could make the case that the lack of a true number 9 prevented them from extending their lead. Cancelo, Grealish, and Kevin De Bruyne each had chances, but were unable to find their way past Mendy. In the end though, this was a quality win against a major title challenger.
Manchester City came to Stamford Bridge on Saturday with spotty momentum at best. Many pundits favored Chelsea to get the win, and it was hard to argue that Tuchel’s bunch weren’t in better form entering the contest. At the final whistle however, City had done what they came to do. They served noticed that they are still the title holders and they have no intention of letting go of their favorite trophy.