The substitutes were the rare positives for Chelsea, as they slumped to a 3-1 defeat to Manchester City at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
A nightmare of a first half saw Chelsea go three down several minutes before the break. However, the Blues might feel they were unlucky not to be rewarded with a penalty when Rodri tackled Timo Werner from behind. Having said that, the west Londoners completely unravelled after Manchester City broke the deadlock.
The first goal came in the 18th minute when Ilkay Gundogan produced a brilliant finish from just outside the Chelsea box. Shortly after, Manchester City were two to the good, as Phil Foden beat Edouard Mendy from an acute angle before Kevin De Bruyne scored against his former side after a break from Raheem Sterling, who smashed the woodwork with his attempt.
The second half was a more mellow affair before Chelsea scored a late consolation goal through Callum Hudson-Odoi, who turned in Kai Havertz’s low cross with a composed finish. However, it was too little too late, as Chelsea dropped to 8th on the table, while Manchester City now sit 5th. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Frank Lampard’s men.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) January 3, 2021
Edouard Mendy: 5/10
There was not a lot he could have done to deny either Phil Foden or Kevin De Bruyne, but Mendy should have kept Ilkay Gundogan’s shot out after getting a hand on it. Has now only managed to keep one clean sheet in his last seven games, with things going from bad to worse by the game.
Cesar Azpilicueta: 4/10
In what was his 400th appearance for Chelsea, Azpilicueta had a game to forget. Revered for the defensive solidity he brings to the plate, the Spaniard just could not keep up with his markers and was guilty of allowing Oleksandr Zinchenko enough room to cross in the build-up to the first goal before seeing the ball go through his legs before Manchester City went two up. Needs to step up.
Kurt Zouma: 4/10
Back into the starting lineup, Zouma produced perhaps his worst performance of the season. Was turned too easily by Gundogan when Manchester City took the lead and should have done better when Foden scored as well. Always unsure of his positioning at the heart of the Chelsea defence and needs to do much better if Chelsea are to start shutting off opponents again.
Thiago Silva: 4/10
Slightly better than his central defensive partner but Silva, too, was underwhelming on the night. The veteran Brazilian failed to organise the Chelsea backline and Manchester City duly pounced. Did not do enough to close down Gundogan, but was not culpable for the other two goals. However, he does need to keep the defensive line more disciplined.
Ben Chilwell: 5/10
Chilwell made a bright start to the game and made life difficult for Joao Cancelo. However, the English full-back endured a difficult evening once Manchester City came into their own, with compatriot Raheem Sterling troubling him to no end. Hardly charged forward thereafter and did not create any chance for the Chelsea forwards.
Mateo Kovacic: 5/10
Another player returning to the starting lineup, Kovacic’s struggles continued, as he failed to keep up with an imposing Gundogan. The Croat just could not manage to get into the game and apart from the one shot he went close with, he was a mere passenger against Manchester City.
N’Golo Kante: 4/10
Playing in his favoured holding midfield role, Kante was expected to keep Kevin De Bruyne at bay on Sunday. However, the Frenchman was overpowered and overrun with ease by the ex-Chelsea playmaker, who ran the show rather effortlessly. To make matters worse, he gave the ball away for the third goal and should have been punished by Sterling. Taken off just past the hour mark.
Mason Mount: 6/10
The only Chelsea player who seemed like he could make any sort of difference in the game. The English international was slow off the blocks as Manchester City thoroughly dominated the first half, but he ended up creating three chances in the game, although none of them were converted. Needs better support from his teammates.
Hakim Ziyech: 5/10
A surprise name in the starting lineup, Ziyech’s return ought to have galvanized Chelsea against Manchester City. However, with the game passing him by, the Moroccan playmaker just could not influence the proceedings nearly as much as would have liked. Hardly supported Azpilicueta in the defensive phase, which put Chelsea under further pressure at the back.
Timo Werner: 5/10
The excruciating wait continues for Werner, whose drought is now close to 800 minutes. Deployed centrally this time around, the German international was left isolated for parts of the game and he just did not receive enough support from the flanks. Aimed just one shot all game, which was blocked.
Christian Pulisic: 5/10
The liveliest player on the pitch. However, Pulisic’s energy hardly amounted to much, as Chelsea failed to put Manchester City under any sort of pressure. Sorely missing the incisiveness needed to carve open the opportunities and is in need of some inspiration to spark his season into life.
Callum Hudson-Odoi: 7/10
Callum Hudson-Odoi’s game by numbers vs Man City (26 minutes):
100% take ons completed
95% pass accuracy
3 ball recoveries
2 chances created
Maybe it’s time to start him… 🤷♂️ pic.twitter.com/meTp3hvq1g
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) January 3, 2021
On for Ziyech, Hudson-Odoi was the biggest positive of the evening for Chelsea, as he pushed Zinchenko back. Ended the game with a goal, which was made possible with a fine finish that ought to give Lampard some food for thought.
Billy Gilmour: 6/10
On for a frustrated Kante, Gilmour helped shut up shop in the final quarter of the game and kept things tight in the middle of the park.
Kai Havertz: N/A
Given the final 15 minutes to make an impact and that is exactly what he did, as he provided the assist for Hudson-Odoi’s goal with a fine low cross with his left foot.