Chelsea responded to their midweek defeat to newly promoted Wolverhampton Wanderers in the most convincing of fashions, ending Manchester City’s 15 game unbeaten streak in the Premier League with a tireless 2-0 victory at Stamford Bridge.
As was to be expected considering the differing fortunes of the teams recently, Pep Guardiola’s league leaders initially took control of the play creating chances through the pace of Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane, who’ve been in scintillating form this season.
Chelsea’s defence, as it has failed to do often enough this season, stood firm applying block after block. Despite managing just six passes in the final third, Eden Hazard’s precise cut-back landed perfectly for N’Golo Kante to strike a first time effort into the roof of the net with just a minute of normal time to play in the first half.
The lift the goal gave to the team and the thousands of fans, who packed the terraces in hope more than anticipation, can’t be understated and the Blues grew into the game, Willian and Pedro both coming close to doubling the score. As the clock approached 80 minutes, the game was finely poised, until the towering Brazilian centre-back David Luiz capped his best performance of the season with a great header from Hazard’s inswinging corner.
Here’s how we rated the Chelsea players in the game:
Kepa Arrizabalaga - 6.5
Made a mess of a couple of clearances but was ultimately on hand to palm away the danger he had originally created. Saved well from Kyle Walker’s free-kick but wasn’t called on as often as many expected he would be.
Cesar Azpilicueta - 9
Produced one of the single best defensive performances you’re likely to see this season. His goal saving block on Leroy Sane, who he contained superbly, epitomised a display in which the Spaniard completed 13 tackles, five interceptions, two clearances and two blocks as well as winning 100% of his aerial duels.
Antonio Rudiger- 7
Has been the most consistent performer in Chelsea’s back line all season and cemented this status with yet another imperious display. His main job was to form a wall of resistance, clearing the ball seven times and producing one block.
David Luiz - 9
Defensively he was once again the first line of resistance stepping out and anticipating play before distributing play. His work in the defensive phase was impressive but his goal 12 minutes before the end sealed the three points and the passion in his face showed it all.
Marcos Alonso - 7.5
A marked improvement on his performances over the past month or so, although at times in the first-half Sane and Sterling ran him ragged he remained composed to complete four tackles and interceptions.
N'Golo Kante - 8
Has now bettered both his goals and assists output from last season, with possibly the most important goal of the Premier League season. He took some poor first touches but his quality shone through in the way he frantically tracked back to recover the ball. His passing improved in the second-half as Chelsea were afforded more space.
Jorginho - 6.5
Still not at the same levels as his performances earlier in the season, but like Kante, he improved when the game became stretched.
Mateo Kovacic - 7
His three tackles were invaluable in helping Chelsea’s midfield maintain a strong defensive core. His injury in the second-half left Chelsea more vulnerable but they dealt with his absence well, looking to break further up the field.
Pedro - 6.5
Stifled in the first-half, before playing a hand in Chelsea’s opening goal. His shot could easily have doubled Chelsea’s lead but his most important contribution came in his relentless pressing.
Eden Hazard - 8
Playing as a false nine he had a quiet game in the whole but came alive twice to great effect, laying on two assists and subsequently becoming the single player to have been involved in the most goals this season – seven goals and eight assists.
Willian - 6
Was like Pedro, a very useful defensive player, utilising his energy to prevent City’s full-backs from pushing high up the pitch. Emerson saved well from his free-kick in the second-half.
Ross Barkley – 7: An enforced change but he slotted comfortably into the Chelsea midfield and his shot led to the corner from which Luiz headed in the second goal of the game.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek – 6: Brought a more powerful dimension to Chelsea’s play, giving City a different issue to contend with.
Olivier Giroud – N/A: Came on too late to influence the game.