An N’Golo Kante strike was not enough as Chelsea were handed a 2-1 loss by Manchester City at the Etihad on Saturday.
Chelsea were off the gates strongly, grabbing the meaningful chances early on. But, they had to wait until the 21st minute to finally break the deadlock, as N’Golo Kante produced a fine finish at the end of a stunning run, finishing off Mateo Kovacic’s slipping pass. But, shortly after, Manchester City levelled things up through a deflected strike by Kevin De Bruyne.
There was no element of luck involved in the next goal, though, as Riyad Mahrez gave City the lead with a stunning solo goal. The hosts thoroughly dominated the proceedings in the second half and could have had a third goal, only for Raheem Sterling to be denied by VAR. With the result, Chelsea fell to fourth on the table, and The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Frank Lampard’s men.
Kepa Arrizabalaga: 5/10
Kepa has been accomplished with his performances this season. But, he should have done better to get his hands on Riyad Mahrez’s effort, although he could not have done much to deny Kevin De Bruyne’s deflected shot. Incredibly lucky to get away with a botched clearance as Sergio Aguero struck the woodwork. One incredible save kept Chelsea in the game in the second half.
Cesar Azpilicueta: 7/10
Yet again, the Chelsea captain was solid at the back. While he was troubled at times by the pace of Raheem Sterling, Azpilicueta remained diligent in his duties, and made two brilliant blocks to stop goalbound efforts. Posed a greater threat than usual going forward, with a couple of passes standing out.
Kurt Zouma: 7/10
Zouma has been in the ascendancy in the last month and a half. And, on Saturday, the Frenchman was solid once again. With Jorginho uncharacteristically struggling, the pressure was on Zouma to keep a check on Aguero, which he did with elan. Impressed with his decision making on the ball as well. Unlucky to see De Bruyne’s shot deflect off him and into the net.
Fikayo Tomori: 6/10
At times, Tomori had to do the job of two players, with Emerson Palmieri leaving a lot of space in behind him. That got the better of the young centre-back at times, although otherwise, he was quite solid. Sloppy on the ball at times, which was out of character for him.
Emerson Palmieri: 5/10
Struggled at the back and oddly, did not do much of note in the final third either. Decision making left a lot to be desired in the opposition half and was often troubled by Mahrez, including for the winner when the Algerian winger slipped past him with ease. Made way for Reece James as the first substitution.
N’Golo Kante: 8/10
Starting a second successive league match, Kante showcased his big-game pedigree at Manchester City. The ghosting run that preceded his goal was absolutely superb, one that would make the best of strikers proud.
Then, there was the finish, a precise effort that ended into the net. An all-action showing, Kante was everywhere, pressing high up but always available to protect the defence. A clear standout in a high stakes game once again.
Back into the side after serving his suspension, Jorginho ought to have been the player to control the proceedings for Chelsea. But, in atypical fashion, the Italian international was rushed into a pass at times and lost the ball on quite a few occasions. Just could not manage to push his team forward in the second half.
Mateo Kovacic: 8/10
Alongside Kante, Kovacic was the brightest spot for Chelsea. The pass to set Kante up for his goal was right out the top drawer, with the Croat showing incredible vision. The numbers from his performance are simply sensational.
Kovacic completed each of the dribbles he attempted and 95 percent of his passes, while winning 12 duel and 4 tackles. Making an impact on both ends of the pitch. Indispensable at the moment, he is making as big an impact as some of the players who are making more tangible contributions.
A game of hits and misses for Willian. Typically lively all throughout, the Brazilian played some fine passes, but he was also wasteful on the ball, which took a lot of sheen off his performance. Ought to have done better with an early chance that came his way. Would be kicking himself for missing the chance.
Tammy Abraham: 5/10
Like Willian, Abraham also had an opening coming his way minutes into the game, only to inexplicably fluff his lines. Thereafter, the English striker spent much of the game on the periphery, especially in the second half, when Chelsea just could not find a way into the game.
Christian Pulisic: 5/10
Pulisic started the game ahead of Mason Mount; an indication that he had sufficiently recovered from his hip injury. Showed a lot of energy early on and gave Joao Cancelo some nervy moments. However, as the game progressed, his influence waned considerably. A rare off day, keeping recent form in mind.
Reece James: 6/10
On for Emerson, James showed a lot of purpose after being introduced. But, with Manchester City dominating the game, the young defender did not get a chance to showcase his talents going forward. Defended well whenever questions were asked of him.
Michy Batshuayi: 5/10
Brought on in place of Abraham, Batshuayi simply continued from where the Englishman had left off, failing to make an impact.
Mason Mount: 5/10
Much like Batshuayi, Mount did nothing of note.