After losing to Tottenham in the opening game of the season, struggling to beat Leicester City and settling for a goalless draw against Southampton, it seemed defending the league title this season was going to be a longshot for Manchester City.
However, the 5-0 thumping of both Norwich and Arsenal, and putting six past both RB Leipzig and Wycombe in two different competitions served as reminders that the team is still ruthless. On their day, the Blues are unplayable. They can reduce any top team into settling for scraps even in front of their home crowd.
Worse still, the crowd will cheer for their team's brief spell of possession. Even if the players will soon be on the back foot, defending for their lives. This was on show at Stamford Bridge.
Not since knocking Paris Saint-Germain out of the Champions League at the semifinal stage last season has Manchester City exhibited such dominant mentality against a big club. But Chelsea got what they deserved after seriously bruising the Cityzens' ego last term.
Here are 5 takeaways from the victory at Stamford Bridge.
1. City’s Best Transfer Business was Keeping Wantaway Players
As with every top side, City’s last transfer window consisted of outgoings and incomings. Although the attention was mainly fixated on the move for Jack Grealish and Harry Kane, key players were also likely to leave the club.
Aymeric Laporte, Bernardo Silva and Gabriel Jesus were among the mentioned four. Turns out they all stayed and that is proving to be the best transfer business the club carried out. Best of all, it was done without even trying. Yet the one that took the most efforts failed to materialise.
2. Rodri is Underappreciated
We may never understand Pep Guardiola’s reasoning in leaving both Rodri and Fernandinho out of the Champions League final starting XI. But we will certainly not forget the outcome in a hurry. Fernandinho was so instrumental to City’s success in 2019 while operating in the defensive midfield position that the manager sought to bring in a player that could understudy and replace him when he leaves.
Rodri came prepared and hit the ground running from day one. The Spaniard may not be a replica of the Brazilian, but he is excellent in his own right. These days he shows that in every game he starts.
Against Chelsea, the 25-year-old was on another level. He was the officer in charge patrolling authoritatively in front of the back four to ensure they suffered no harm. That provided the foundation for a controlled display that produced a deserved victory.
He ensured N’golo Kante’s wings were clipped and Jorginho was kept quiet. He even kept an eye on Romelu Lukaku, at one time intercepting the Belgian on the halfway line to snuff out a dangerous counter attack.
He also made an important block on Marcos Alonso, and then quickly recycled possession to Grealish which created the chance for Jesus that Thiago Silva made a goal line clearance to prevent a second goal.
These were just a few of his contributions.
Strong, agile, intelligent with his passing and defensively solid, Rodri should be in the starting lineup for every important fixture on Man City’s calendar.
3. Joao Cancelo is a Treasure
What a player!
Probably the best signing Guardiola has made in his time at the Etihad Stadium. Just because of his versatility. Man City do not have a natural left-back. But with Cancelo, the manager can sleep peacefully sleep at night.
He won’t just have the position covered, he will push forward to create goals or score. No matter the opponent. It was his blocked shot that Jesus capitalised on to score against Chelsea.
4. Manchester City - The Best Team in the World?
For those out there that doubted their ability to recreate the success of previous years this season, Manchester City made a mockery of such thought. The team was so good it made European champions Chelsea look very average.
They had no shot on target the whole game and could hardly get near City’s final third. Romelu Lukaku, neutralised. Timo Warner, neutralised. N’golo Kante, Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic, same story. Even the attack-minded wingbacks were pinned down to their half of the field as they held on for dear life.
From start to finish City dominated except for brief periods where the home side tried to build from the back. It was a performance that clearly showed Manchester City can lay claim to being the best team in the world at the moment.
5. Pep Guardiola - The Best Manager?
It takes a genius of a manager to build such a monstrous team. The football is breathtaking even though the goals don’t always come as desired.
In fact, based on the football played, the Cityzens deserved to leave Stamford Bridge with a 3-0 win at least. A series of missed chances meant the team had to settle for a narrow win. But the scoreline does not give an accurate picture of what transpired on the pitch of play.
It was all masterminded by Guardiola and Thomas Tuchel had no answer. The German tactician could only watch and hope for a change of fortune. But after riding his luck for so long with three undeserved wins last term, it was time for justice to be served.