Manchester City suffered their first league
defeat of the season against Chelsea on
Saturday to drop into second place in the
table behind new leaders Liverpool .
Pep Guardiola’s side dominated the majority
of the first half at Stamford Bridge but were
left stunned just before the break when N’Golo Kante fired in the opener from Eden Hazard’s cut-back.
David Luiz then doubled Chelsea’s advantage in the 78th minute to secure a 2-0 win that keeps Chelsea above Arsenal on goal difference but, crucially, inadvertently aids Liverpool in their charge for the title.
Jurgen Klopp’s side, who beat Bournemouth
4-0 away earlier on Saturday, now lead the
standings by a point while City drop into
Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri had called on his side to show a reaction against City after seeing his side suffer their second straight loss on the road in midweek, when the Blues gave up a 1-0 lead to lose 2-1 to Wolves at Molineux.
And the Italian certainly elicited a reaction
after both he and Guardiola decided on a
personnel change up front, with both opting
to omit strikers from their starting line-ups in
favour of a ‘false No.9’.
While Sarri dropped struggling forward
Alvaro Morata for Hazard, Guardiola decided
against starting Gabriel Jesus in place of the injured Sergio Aguero and instead placed his faith in Raheem Sterling up front.
And the England international didn’t take
long to threaten Chelsea’s goal when, in the
ninth minute, Fabian Delph robbed Jorginho
of the ball, passed to Leroy Sane who cut the ball back for Sterling.
The 24-year-old raced into the area but failed to get a clean shot away, but the effort
marked the start of City’s utter dominance of the first half.
The visitors created attack after attack but,
somehow, Chelsea held on and moments
before the break the hosts got the opportunity they had been eagerly waiting for to take the lead.
With City failing to clear a long pass in from
David Luiz, the ball was eventually played to
Hazard out on the left, who spotted an
advancing Kante and cut it back to the
The France World Cup winner – whose new
attack-minded role has been criticised by
some this season – raced forward and drove in a powerful shot into the roof of the net that handed the Blues the lead and sent the home fans wild.
Guardiola reacted by hauling off Sane for
Jesus, but Chelsea remained dangerous after the break and, indeed, Ederson was needed to keep out two efforts from Willian, the first of which was a free-kick.
As mistakes began creeping into City’s game, Chelsea appeared more and more confident and it wasn’t long before they got their second from a corner kick, won by substitute Ross Barkley.
Luiz drifted into space and headed the ball
over Ederson to create a more comfortable
score-line for the Blues, which Chelsea held
onto to secure a famous win that throws open the title race and keeps the race for a top-four spot tight.