Chelsea 1, Manchester City 3
Manchester City hit top form as they beat Chelsea with a first half trio of goals by Ilkay Gundogan, Phil Foden, and Kevin De Bruyne.Embed from Getty Images
City were comfortable in the second half but will be disappointed that Zack Steffen – starting his first Premier League game – failed to keep a clean sheet after an injury time consolation goal by Callum Hudson-Odoi.
They will be heartened by a win against a top 6 rival after a season where City had not been their best.
The result meant that City climbed to 5th place with at least one game in hand on the teams above them.
Chelsea’s defeat means they have now only won once in 7 games since December 5 – while City were playing their first game since Boxing Day after an enforced break due to the COVID postponed game at Everton last Monday.
City boss Pep Guardiola declared that City had gotten their mojo back after a shaky start against Chelsea and said:
“We arrived as normal, they pressed us and pushed us and we suffered a little bit but we played really well. The result was incredible for us.
“In this competition you have to play the game, the results come later.
“When we defended in our box we were solid.
“We did miss a little bit of our normal tempo [recently] but today we had it.
“We don’t have the players to make quick transitions – maybe Sterling – we have to create problems for the opposition on the ball make 1000 passes and make chances.”
But while results had been mixed in recent weeks there was no other explanation for today’s performance at a tough top 6 rival.
“We got our tempo back.” declared Guardiola.
Much had been made of reports that his Foden was unhappy about his lack of game time recently, the young City midfielder was given his chance and Guardiola was effusive about his goalscoring performance.
“I was so proud of Phil Foden. He never dropped his energy, and he has a sense of goal. We rely on him.” said Guardiola.
Foden was one of the players brought in and he started on the left flank with De Bruyne playing as a false 9 and Raheem Sterling on the right as City eschewed inverted wingers to stretch Chelsea.
Zack Steffen made his Premier League debut for Manchester City after Ederson was revealed to have tested positive for coronavirus while the bench contained only 8 players after an earlier positive test for Eric Garcia – the sixth player to test positive after Gabriel Jesus, Kyle Walker, and reportedly Ederson, Ferran Torres, and Tommy Doyle.
All are isolating and City’s defensive options looked threadbare after Luke Mbete-Tabu and Taylor Harwood-Bellis were named on the bench.
Sergio Aguero was only fit enough to join them on the bench alongside Benjamin Mendy who was named there despite having been allegedly found to have breached COVID rules over the New Year period.
In all, there were only three changes from the team that beat Newcastle United on Boxing Day – Ederson, Nathan Ake, and Torres were left out, with Steffen, Oleksandr Zinchenko, and Foden coming in.
Chelsea certainly started on the front foot, making it difficult for City in the opening 15 minutes.
Steffen’s inexperience showed early when he picked up a backpass from Rodri just inside his box, allowing Chelsea a close range indirect free kick by Hakim Ziyech which was charged down by Ilkay Gundogan.
But City were soon in business after giving their hosts a warning shot.
Kevin De Bruyne shot wide after Joao Cancelo slid him through with a great pass from deep on the right as the Citizens clicked.
Manchester City hit top gear with clinical finishing after shaky start at Chelsea
Gundogan stroked in City’s opener after 18 minutes, finishing a quickly laid off ball from Phil Foden after a slick attacking move from the left.
It was Gundogan’s 5th goal of the season and his third goal in his last four games for the in-form German.
Foden doubled that lead after sweeping home from 7 yards out after just 2 minutes and 35 seconds later – his 6th goal of the season – after exchanging passes with De Bruyne who was raiding down the left.
The young England man was in irresistible form, outmuscling Kurt Zouma for the ball and later outpacing Cesar Azpilicueta to lift a ball into the box for Cancelo.
Gundogan had a shot blocked after Chelsea failed to get past the City defence after a period of chances.
Raheem Sterling raced clear on a break after Kante’s shot was cleared by De Bruyne and hit the woodwork with De Bruyne popping up in the Chelsea box, controlling, and then stroking home the rebound from 6 yards out as De Bruyne went up to support him in the 34th minute – only the 3rd goal of the season for the Belgian with Chelsea failing to get back to defend the break.
It twas the first time that Chelsea had conceded three goals in the first half in a Premier League game for only the second time ever – the first was in August 2017 against Burnley but the City blitz didn’t look over.
Foden could have made it 4-0 a minute later but his free header was poor as he met Bernardo Silva’s right wing cross unchallenged and also laid on a pass for Gundogan who back heeled it wide at the end of a one side first half for City.
Steffen was only really called into action to pluck a header by Azpilicueta from Christian Pulisic’s long range free kick.
Foden was continuing to find plenty of space on the left flank, setting up Zinchenko for a tame shot which was collected by Edouard Mendy.
Mendy also tipped over a header from Rodri from De Bruyne’s free kick after Kante clumsily brought down Sterling as he raided from midfield.
Steffen had an easy save to make from Mason Mount’s tame shot but stumbled when going for a ball across the six yard box by Pulisic which no Chelsea player engaged with.
The American was well protected by the City defence though and only a long range shot by Mateo Kovacic, which was wide, emerged after a period of Chelsea pressure.
City even had a huge spell of possession which ended with De Bruyne firing wide – a goal would have capped a fine move for Guardiola’s men.
Chelsea boss Frank Lampard made a double change after 64 minutes with Billy Gilmour replacing Kante – who looked to be feeling a hamstring injury – and Callum Hudson-Odoi coming on for Hakim Ziyech.
But City could have scored again after a quick break with one touch passing between Sterling and De Bruyne ended with the Belgian being narrowly beaten to the ball by Mendy who had raced off his line while Sterling was blocked by a later break from the pair.
Fernandinho replaced Gundogan after 75 minutes, and then Riyad Mahrez and Sergi Aguero joined the fray with 4 minutes to go for De Bruyne and Foden.
Lampard brought on Kai Havertz for Kovacic and Chelsea finally got a consolation when Hudson-Odoi beat Zinchenko to the German’s left wing cross in injury time.
GOALS – Chelsea 1, Manchester City 3
Chelsea 0, Man City 1: 18. Ilkay Gundogan turned and shot from just inside the area after receiving a lay off from Phil Foden at the end of a slick attacking move from the left.
Chelsea 0, Man City 2: 21. Phil Foden swept the ball home from 7 yards out after exchanging passes with Kevin De Bruyne following another raid down the left.
Chelsea 0, Man City 3: 34. Kevin De Bruyne stroked in the rebound from Raheem Sterling’s shot after he broke free from his own half after N’Golo Kante’s shot was blocked and City broke quickly.
Chelsea 1, Man City 3: 90+2. Callum Hudson-Odoi scrambled home a consolation from close range after beating Oleksandr Zinchenko to a left wing cross by Kai Havertz.
MATCH STATS – Chelsea 1, Manchester City 3
Chelsea: Mendy, Azpilicueta, Zouma, Thiago Silva, Chilwell, Kovacic (Havertz 77), Kante (Gilmour 64), Mount, Ziyech (Hudson-Odoi 64), Werner, Pulisic
Chelsea subs not used: Arrizabalaga, Rudiger, Jorginho, Abraham, Giroud, Emerson
Booked: Pulisic 45+2 (foul on Bernardo Silva), Kante (foul on Raheem Sterling); Kovacic 71 (foul on Kevin De Bruyne)
Man City: Steffen, Angelo, Stones, Dias, Zinchenko, Gundogan (Fernandinho 75), Rodri, Bernardo Silva, De Bruyne (Mahrez 86), Foden (Aguero 86), Sterling
Man City subs not used: Carson, Mendy, Delap, Harwood-Bellis, Mbete-Tabu
Booked: Bernardo Silva 90+1 (foul on Christian Pulisic)
Goals: Gundogan 18; Foden 21; De Bruyne 34
Referee: Anthony Taylor