Manchester City came from behind to inflict Chelsea’s first loss in eight Premier League games.
Frank Lampard will be bitterly disappointed with the way in which Chelsea surrendered their lead. A combination of high pressing and quick combination play handed the Blues a deserved lead, as N’Golo Kante latched onto Mateo Kovacic’s whipped ball in behind before sliding the ball past the onrushing Ederson. The composure and movement that had signified Chelsea’s play in the opening exchanges began to elude them following the goal – the Blues had six shots in the opening 21 minutes but none in the next 25, and City were able to turn over possession with much greater regularity. Having pinpointed Emerson as a point of weakness City opted to double up on the Italian cutting in and carving out chances from which they would ultimately take the lead. A pair of half-hearted clearances gave Kevin De Bruyne the chance to level via a hefty deflection. Riyad Mahrez then caught Emerson in two minds chopping and changing direction before cutting inside and curling through the legs of Fikayo Tomori.
Chelsea enjoyed plenty of possession in the second-half but couldn’t replicate the same attacking intensity they had mustered in the first-half and were routinely dealt with by a makeshift City backline. Mason Mount nearly escaped with a point when his free-kick curled just wide of the post, whilst just moments later Raheem Sterling’s strike was ruled out for the most marginal of offside calls by VAR.
Kepa Arrizabalaga - 5
Didn’t cover himself in glory with some poor distribution nearly gifting Sergio Aguero the chance to put the game beyond Chelsea, whilst his attempted save from Sterling’s late effort was weak.
Cesar Azpilicueta - 7
Intercepted the ball with an aggressive regularity and prevented Sterling from reaching the byline on many occasions. His overlapping runs caused panic in the City backline and only a last-ditch block prevented Kante from converting his cut back.
Fikayo Tomori - 6
On the ball, he showed great composure but little imagination, opting to play short and backwards with little emphasis on building the tempo. In competing for loose balls he was far too often caught overextending or getting under the ball, failing to make clean contact and keeping the pressure on Chelsea’s backline.
Kurt Zouma - 6
Zouma faced many of the same problems that Tomori encountered, with slow and conservative build-up play. His clearances also lacked conviction and both he and Tomori’s interventions led directly to De Bruyne’s equalising goal.
Emerson - 5
Emerson must be sick of travelling to the Etihad, having now racked up two equally dismal performances there. Whereas his cameo appearance under Conte lasted just 10 minutes and resulted in zero touches of the ball, today’s display was merely said performance dragged out over the course of 55 minutes. The Italian did actually start well pressing high and winning back possession in dangerous areas, but as soon as Mahrez squared him up in a one on one situation Emerson backed off the Algerian and allowed him the time and space to assess his options and inevitably drive inside. We have seen this issue crop up time and time again with Emerson to devastating effect and his inability to adapt his game accordingly showcases Lampard’s need to bring in a world-class replacement in the summer.
N'Golo Kante- 8
There is no doubting the fact that Kante is able to offer so much more when deployed in a box to box role. His high-intensity running created an option in behind, and he was excellently picked out by Kovacic to open the scoring via the use of said run. He dropped off the pace slightly in the second half as City compressed the midfield and began to sit on their lead.
Jorginho - 6
His passing was perhaps the main trigger behind Chelsea’s Jekyll and Hyde performance in the first half particularly. Jorginho had begun by effortlessly linking up with Kovacic and playing his way out from the back, but as the half wore on he became more and more complacent helping City grab a foothold in the game by contributing to their high number of turnovers in the Chelsea half.
Mateo Kovacic - 7
Kovacic was by no means at his free-flowing best either tonight but the Croatian at least looked to break through City’s deep block and find Chelsea’s forward options with an array of passes in behind or to feet. His assist for Kante’s opener was sublime.
Willian - 7
Willian’s performance follows a similar trajectory to that of his teammates. In the first half he was able to drive from out to in and pick up the ball unopposed inside the area, but as Chelsea’s runs off the ball decreased Willian was unable to get beyond his marker as regularly. His energy and work rate cannot be doubted and he continually dropped deep to break up play mobilise Chelsea’s attacking options.
Tammy Abraham - 6.5
His big game curse continues to motivate much of his critics rhetoric and he came no closer to ending this barren spell. Whilst displaying some excellent hold-up play in the first half, he failed to get himself into key goalscoring positions and once City began to defend with more width Chelsea’s attacking threat was easily nullified.
Christian Pulisic - 6.5
Dropped into the half-spaces and was careful with his choice of pass. In the first half his runs off the ball dragged Joao Cancelo inside and created space for Emerson to create an overlap. The American run out of steam in the second-half and when faced with having to take his man on he looked a shadow of his former self.
Reece James – 7, the argument levelled at Lampard will be why he didn’t start with James in place of Emerson. The Englishman looked more comfortable with defending one on one whilst also displaying great skill and composure on the ball.
Mason Mount – 6.5, picked up the ball and ran with it, transitioning Chelsea’s play well but he lacked end product and a hopeful free-kick effort was the closest he came to making a real impact.
Michy Batshuayi – 6, you can usually rely on Batshuayi to at least carve out a guilt-edged opportunity for himself but tonight he seemed to lack energy and confidence.