The key themes, players and moments analysed after a fantastic performance and result at Stamford Bridge tonight...
Chelsea ended Man City’s unbeaten start to the league season with an outstanding display lit up by goals in each half from N’Golo Kante and David Luiz.
It was always going to need something special to get the better of a side who had looked unstoppable of late, and that’s exactly what the Blues produced on a thoroughly enjoyable early evening at an ecstatic Stamford Bridge.
For all their passing, especially in the first half, we restricted the visitors to just a couple of openings and then struck on the stroke of half-time through Kante’s ferocious finish.
We were much the more dangerous side after the break and it was a remarkable David Luiz header that gave us the cushion of a two-goal lead with a little over 10 minutes to play. Stretching every sinew, it epitomised the determination on display from everyone in blue, something Maurizio Sarri had called for and will be thrilled to have witnessed from his team tonight.
With and without
We have been accustomed to seeing the Blues enjoy plenty of possession since Sarri’s arrival but today, particularly in the first half, we had to show our mettle without the ball. We passed that test with flying colours, limiting City to few clear openings or even dangerous spells in our defensive third.
There has plenty of discussion around Kante’s position in our midfield but the Frenchman showed his qualities at both ends of the pitch with a typically dynamic display capped off by a fine finish for the opener. He doesn’t score many but he can add today’s emphatic strike to the goals he netted against City’s neighbours two years ago.
Defending from the front
To keep a clean sheet against the team Sarri described as the best in the world is no easy feat, and it needed the efforts of everyone to restrict the Citizens. But the back four deserve a special mention after a couple of difficult days on the road recently, with each member excelling against a speedy and skilful attack.
Which leads us to our pick for man of the match – a very difficult decision indeed! On his 300th appearance for the club, Cesar Azpilicueta was absolutely outstanding. His block to deny Leroy Sane when the scores were goalless proved crucial, and he also made a telling interception at 1-0 when Raheem Sterling looked set to run clear. He also added thrust to our attack when the time was right. Well played Dave!
There were no recognised strikers for either side, with Hazard leading the line for us and Pedro and Willian either side of him. David Luiz, Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho returned to the side.
9: The first opening went the visitors way as they broke at speed, but Sterling couldn’t get a good connection on Sane’s deflected cross.
32: Kepa stayed tall and saved from Sane, and Rudiger was alert to clear the follow-up from David Silva.
33: Azpilicueta blocked superbly from Sane’s goalbound shot after Sterling wriggled past Alonso, and from the resulting corner Bernardo Silva’s deflected header went close.
45: GOAL! 1-0! The Blues took the lead with our first shot. David Luiz’s superb crossfield ball found Pedro on the right wing and he continued the move by switching it to Willian. His deflected cross fell to Alonso who moved it on to Hazard, and he played the ball into a danger area for the onrushing Kante to thump into the roof of the net!
49: Willian was brought down by Fernandinho on the edge of the box and his subsequent well-hit free-kick was just about palmed away by Ederson.
51: Another well-worked Chelsea move involving Hazard and Kante ended with Pedro’s goalbound shot being blocked by John Stones. Willian then struck tamely at Ederson after more good work from Kante.
57: Kepa dived to his right to push Kyle Walker’s free-kick to safety.
65: Ross Barkley replaced Kovacic who looked to have picked up a knock.
75: Our next change was Ruben Loftus-Cheek on for Willian. We subsequently lined up in more of a 4-2-3-1 shape out of possession.
78: GOALLL! 2-0! David Luiz superbly arched a header from the near post over Ederson and in off the underside of the bar at the back post from Loftus-Cheek’s corner.
90+3: Kepa gave the ball away but redeemed himself with a diving stop to push Gabriel Jesus’s shot wide.
It’s our final European action of the calendar year on Thursday as we complete our Europa League group stage with an away trip to Vidi in Hungary. Brighton away is our next league assignment on Sunday.