Chelsea 0-1 Manchester City: Pep Guardiola's side lay down title marker with impressive win
Premier League, Stamford Bridge - Chelsea 0 Manchester City 1 (Jesus 53')
Gabriel Jesus of Manchester City celebrates scoring his sides first goal during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Manchester City at Stamford Bridge on September 25, 2021 in London, England.
Manchester City won 2021's edition of the Battle of Stamford Bridge, beating their opponents Chelsea 1-0 in west London.
In a game where Pep Guardiola and Thomas Tuchel adopted very different approaches, it would be the visiting champions who would dominate the opening exchanges of both halves, controlling possession and dictating the tempo of the match as the darker Blues of the home side held firm in a solid 5-3-2 defensive shape.
Chelsea did what they could to hang in there: Antonio Rudiger and Cesar Azpilicueta were usually the ones throwing their bodies in the way of City shots in a first half where neither side actually registered a shot on target.
The hosts' defiance was finally breached on 53 minutes: Gabriel Jesus making the most of a fortuitous break to hold off his man and strike into the far corner on the half turn, with a slice of luck on its way through thanks to a Jorginho deflection.
Tuchel's men would have the ball in the back of the net at least once; Romelu Lukaku tucking away a Kai Havertz square ball, but the German was adjudged to have been offside from the initial cross-field pass from Andreas Christensen.
Jack Grealish forced an excellent save from the returning Edouard Mendy on the hour, and he would then provide the outside-of-the-boot cross that the Senegalese could only parry, needing a Thiago Silva last-ditch block on the line to stop Gabriel Jesus doubling both his and his team's tally. The Chelsea goalkeeper would be called upon once more to halt the £100 million man on 82 minutes, as the former Aston Villa playmaker bore down on goal.
Chelsea opened up the game in search of an equaliser, making the match a more enticing encounter as a result, but it was all about City and a Guardiola masterclass in attacking football, having no fear when visiting the home of the European champions.
TALKING POINT - CHELSEA TOO CONSERVATIVE?
How either side would approach this game was the hot topic pre-match, and whilst many would not have been surprised to see the continuity of a back five for Chelsea, many would have been shocked to have realised that defensively, they were a rigid 5-3-2, not allowing them to counter with any real fluidity, and in turn, isolating their two strikers Lukaku and Timo Werner.
The workhorse midfield trio of Kante, Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic worked to some effect, but the flanking Frenchman and Croatian both struggled to get out to the wide areas quickly enough when the hosts decided to press their visitors, and as such, it left plentiful space for Joao Cancelo and Kyle Walker to operate, get their heads up, and pick that penetrative pass between the Chelsea lines into the feet of Kevin de Bruyne, Jack Grealish, Phil Foden or Bernardo Silva.
City, on the other hand, demonstrated how it really should be done: next-to-no respect for their opponents, gunning for them from the get-go with a high pressing system that focussed on crowding Jorginho as the lone pivot in the engine room and forcing the wide Chelsea centre-backs to either go longer or play dangerous balls back inside into marked passing lanes or to pressurised wing-backs.
In all, Chelsea were too negative. Tuchel tried something different: something that had worked a charm against Tottenham last week, but Pep's City side were just too strong and too good to be marshalled for 90 minutes. There needed to be some sort of impetus going forwards for the hosts, but they looked toothless as the Citizens left the Bridge with all three points.
La joie de Gabriel Jesus face à Chelsea
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MAN OF THE MATCH - JOAO CANCELO, MANCHESTER CITY
One of the more unsung heroes of the day.
Playing again on an unfavoured side, the Portuguese showed exactly why he should be City's go-to left-back.
He was exemplary in his defensive work, doing incredibly well to cover the left channel that Timo Werner was trying hard to penetrate, seeking to drag Aymeric Laporte into a one v one foot race.
Going forwards, he was just as good. He overlapped and underlapped Grealish when he had to, and he was always a spare man when De Bruyne picked the ball up on the halfway line, offering either a wall pass outside or in, as Guardiola gave him yet again the freedom to roam into the middle of the park to add a body to the engine room.
A standout display from a man who has fallen under the radar in recent weeks, but with a performance like this, we should see him play in Paris next week.
Chelsea XI: Mendy 7, James 6, Azpilicueta 7, Christensen 6, Rudiger 7, Alonso 6, Jorginho 6, Kante 6, Kovacic 6, Werner 5, Lukaku 6, Havertz 7, L-Cheek 6, Silva 6.
Man City XI: Ederson 6, Walker 7, Dias 8, Laporte 8, Cancelo 8, Rodri 7, De Bruyne 6, Bernardo 6, Foden 6, Grealish 7, Jesus 7, Mahrez 6, Fernandinho 6, Sterling 6.
Chelsea v Manchester City - Follow LIVE
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53': GOALLLL!!!!! They've gone short, and it's paid off, of sorts! de Bruyne got it back from Silva, finding Cancelo on the edge of the area, he sits his man down and strikes initially, it falls for Jesus who does well to shield the ball just inside the area, he shifts his body, hits the shot and it flicks off Jorginho and spins past Mendy. 1-0.#
58': Grealish... teasing Azpilicueta... onto his right somehow under the watchful eye of Kante... and Mendy stops it curling inside the far post! What a move from the £100 million man.
61': What a move by City..., Grealish does incredibly to find Cancelo whilst falling, and the early low cross is cleared unconvincingly by Mendy... for Jesus on the rebound! What a block by Thiago Silva off the line!
63': Goal! Is it? No. Lovely ball from Christensen, knocked down by Alonso, Havertz finds Lukaku with the square pass, but the German was offside in the build-up.
79':WHAT A CHANCE! De Bruyne's delivery... Laporte! Had to score.
82': Grealish bears down on goal... this could be the moment... Mendy stays big and stops him. Huge save.