Frank Lampard made 5 changes coming into this one as he looked for his Chelsea side to get an all important 3 points which would have seen them move into 4th place above London rivals Tottenham. Given that after this game Chelsea have played 1 more game than 3 of the current top 4, it was very much a must win game if Frank and his boys didn't want to see their title chasing rivals gain a bit of an advantage going into the second half of the season. They would need an improvement on their recent performances to do this though.
It was a similar scenario for Pep and City, but they have the advantage of playing 1 less game the 2 sides leading the Premier League table, and 2 less than Chelsea. A win for the Citizens would put them in a very healthy position, whilst also having the advantage of being in good form.
This was to be a test of squad depth today for Man City with their team being hit with no less than 6 players out though COVID. Kyle Walker, Jesus, Laporte, Ake, Torres and Ederson all missing for the visitors.
The game started strangely as with only 5 minutes on the clock American keeper Zak Steffen, making his league debut in the Man City goal, appeared to not know the rules of the beautiful game, deciding to pick up the ball directly from a back pass that was made to him by his City team mate. Only he will know why he did it, but he argued his case (?) for whatever reason as an indirect free kick was given to Chelsea just inside the penalty area. Ziyech saw his free kick blocked for a corner.
On 12 mins VAR got involved when Timo Werner went down under a challenge from Rodri, but the referee Mike Dean in Stockley Park (wherever that is) decided not to give a penalty to the home side or instruct the on field referee to look at the pitch side monitor, and rightly so because it was a very good tackle by the Spanish midfielder.
4 minutes later City had a great chance to take the lead, Kevin De Bruyne though put his effort wide after finding himself 1 on 1 with the keeper. The pass into him from Rodri was excellent but the Belgian, who was playing as a striker today, couldn't find the net from about 9 yards out.
City had no need to worry though because 2 mins later, after patient build up with a move that involved 15 passes, they took the lead through an excellent strike. Ilkay Gundogan turning excellently on the edge of the box to smash home into the keepers bottom left hand corner of the goal. It was a great finish and a quality move.
Just 6 mins later and with only 22 on the clock in total, it was to be 2-0 as City were looking unstoppable and Chelsea just could not get close to them, De Bruyne crossing from the left for Phil Foden to finish with a simple side foot at the near post. The home side were looking like lost infants in the playground as the bigger kids pulled them around with their unpredictable passes, leaving them chasing shadows. Frank must have been wishing he could pull on a shirt and get out there himself. He couldn't have done no worse in fairness.
Chelsea managed to last 11 minutes this time before conceding again, the time almost impressively doubling from the 6 minutes between the first 2 goals. The Blues had a free kick out on the left which was poorly crossed to the edge of the box, City managed to clear the ball with a De Bruyne header and Raheem Sterling found himself in a foot chase to the goal with Kante. The City man ran too far to the left and messed up his angle, missing out on his chance at a simple 1 on 1, but he still managed to get a decent shot off which hit the post and bounced out to skipper De Bruyne who finished off his chance, and his move, with precision into the bottom corner of the net.
Just over half an hour gone and it was 3-0 and game over. If this were against Sheffield United or West Brom, you would think Chelsea had half a chance still with an hour left... but not this Man City side.
It was nearly 4 before HT, another excellent City move saw Gundogan flick a good chance just wide of the post.
The pressure only continued in the second half, Chelsea keeper making a brilliant save at point blank range from a Rodri header. Kovacic went close for Chelsea soon after as the Blues created their first half chance all game.
They did find the net in the end though, Callum Hudson-Odoi sliding in at the back post to finish well after a decent cross by Kai Havertz, to give the home side at least a consolation goal.
City look to have found their mojo again, they're playing well at the minute and reminded everyone that they are still very much a massive shout in the title race. Some of their passing today, the movement and just overall quality on display was honestly different class.
Chelsea struggle against the big names under Lampard, their new signings haven't adapted well to the league and they will end up a fair way off the top 2 this season in my opinion. They have so many top class players in their squad so they will come good, but they were well of the pace today and had nowhere near the intensity OR quality required to beat a side like Man City. Having spent 200 million pound though I fear for Lampard but hope he is given more time than some of his predecessors. Roman is not known for his patience and watching how devoid this Chelsea side look of ideas in the bigger games must surely be a concern for him. Let's hope the Russian has mellowed over the years and isn't so quick to pull the trigger on a Chelsea legend.
CHELSEA 1 MAN CITY 3
Hudson-Odoi 92 Gundogan 18
De Bruyne 34
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