Reece James and Hakim Ziyech stood out, but Sergio Aguero was poor as Chelsea beat Manchester City 2-1 at the Etihad on Saturday.
The game was an end-to-end affair in the early exchanges, but neither goalkeeper was forced into a save in the opening quarter of the game. The first half ended in eventful fashion, though, as Manchester City grabbed the lead through Raheem Sterling before earning a penalty on the stroke of half-time, only for the spot-kick to be missed by Sergio Aguero.
Post the interval, Chelsea showed more desire to get back on level terms and around the hour mark, they made it 1-1 through Hakim Ziyech, who beat Ederson Moraes with his driven effort. The Blues continued to be the better of the two sides thereafter, and got their deserved goal deep into injury time, when Marcos Alonso turned in a cut-back from Timo Werner to seal all three points for his side.
The result took Chelsea above Leicester City in third following the Foxes’ defeat to Newcastle United on Friday, while Manchester City’s inevitable Premier League title coronation has been delayed yet again. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over both sets of players.
Ederson Moraes: 6/10
A largely quiet first half ended with him making a fine save to deny Hakim Ziyech. Could not have done anything to stop Ziyech for the Chelsea goal, but was at hand to ensure Manchester City did not concede any further goal during a relentless onslaught by the visitors before finally wilting under the pressure for Marcos Alonso’s goal.
Ruben Dias: 7/10
With Rodri having some difficulties negating the Chelsea attack all on his own, Dias did well to provide cover to Ederson in the Manchester City goal. Played a brilliant ball towards Gabriel Jesus in the build-up to Raheem Sterling’s goal. Struggled a bit in the second half, but was still the best of the lot at the back for Manchester City.
Aymeric Laporte: 6/10
Stationed at the heart of Manchester City’s three-man central defensive unit, Laporte was solid for the most part, but did suffer some nervy moments at the back when Timo Werner took him on. Won 5 duels and 3 tackles, though, while completing 93 percent of his attempted passes.
Nathan Ake: 5/10
Back in the starting lineup, Ake was solid for the most part in the defensive phases while playing out from the back efficiently. The former Chelsea defender struggled a great deal post the half-time break, with Ziyech’s goal coming from his side. Put to the sword by Christian Pulisic as well.
Rodri was the only midfielder in the Manchester City starting lineup, so it was hardly surprising that Chelsea often bypassed him with ease. Lost the ball cheaply before Ziyech scored for Chelsea. A difficult evening in the end for the Spaniard.
Joao Cancelo: 5/10
Cancelo…. Completely ball watching not once does he see Alonso or try mark his run. Alonso darts back inside while Cancelo is still ball watching to get on the end of the cross from Werner.
Portuguese Dani Alves. pic.twitter.com/lJhrOvyBbG
— Hannah (@JuventinaHannah) May 8, 2021
Not as impressive as Benjamin Mendy on the left flank, Cancelo endured a hit-and-miss game. While he did complete each of his 36 attempted passes, the Portuguese defender carried little threat with his deliveries. Not tested much off the ball by Alonso bar the odd occasion in the second half, but was caught ball watching when the Spaniard scored the winner for Chelsea.
Ferran Torres: 6/10
Another purposeful performance by Torres, who looked to push forward with intent and delivered a couple of key passes. However, while he did complete each of his 15 attempted passes, the Spaniard was not nearly as involved as he would have liked to be before being taken off for Ilkay Gundogan.
Raheem Sterling: 7/10
The Player to Watch in our preview, Sterling had a point to prove in this game, and that is exactly what he did, producing the only two shots on target in the first half, including one for the opening goal, which he scored from close range. Showed a lot of urgency on counters during the second half but could not provide the cutting edge.
Benjamin Mendy: 6/10
A player who has been growing in confidence lately, Mendy galloped forward with purpose and delivered a couple of dangerous-looking crosses. Not made to work hard too much. Overpowered for much of the second half before making way for Oleksandr Zinchenko.
Gabriel Jesus: 7/10
Largely kept quiet by a solid Chelsea defence in the first half, Jesus ended the opening period in strong fashion, first squaring the ball for Sterling’s goal before earning a penalty at the stroke of half-time. Did not see a whole lot of the ball in the second half, with Chelsea marshaling him well at the back.
Sergio Aguero: 5/10
❌ Four different Man City players have missed a penalty in PL this season – Aguero joins De Bruyne, Gundogan and Sterling pic.twitter.com/oB5D9t4dZT
— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) May 8, 2021
On an evening when he would have hoped to deliver Manchester City’s title coronation in style, Aguero ended up making a mockery of himself by having a Panenka penalty saved by Edouard Mendy. Left on the periphery for the most part post the interval before making way for Phil Foden.
Phil Foden: 6/10
On for Aguero, Foden was left isolated for the most part, with Chelsea firmly in control in the final quarter of the game. Did manage a shot, but he missed the target.
Ilkay Gundogan: 6/10
On for Torres, Gundogan instantly had the chance to score, but blasted his long-range effort over the bar. Showed a lot of desire to make things happen when he was on the ball, but could not inspire a winner.
Oleksandr Zinchenko: N/A
On for Mendy, Zinchenko did not play enough to warrant a rating.
Edouard Mendy: 6/10
There was not a whole lot that Mendy could have done to deny Sterling from close range and he hardly had anything else to do otherwise in the rest of the game. Made 3 saves in all, all of them being rather straightforward for him, although he was smart to react to a Panenka penalty by Aguero.
Cesar Azpilicueta: 7/10
🚨 César Azpilicueta now has the most assists by any Chelsea defender in Premier League history, with 33 assists.
— LDN (@LDNFootbalI) May 8, 2021
Up against Sterling and Aguero, Azpilicueta was solid for the most part at the back for Chelsea, but was sold short by his partners in the build-up to the opener. The Chelsea captain, though, produced some smart work to win the ball in the build-up to Ziyech’s goal.
Andreas Christensen: 5/10
Deployed at the centre of the back three, Christensen had a largely solid first half before making a critical mistake leading up to the opening goal. It is here when he also picked up a hamstring injury that forced him off at half-time.
Antonio Rudiger: 5/10
There was not a lot that Rudiger had to do in the defensive phases for much of the first half, but he was caught out of position before Sterling scored for Manchester City. Much more settled in the second half, but faced some nervy moments against Sterling.
Reece James: 8/10
Reinstated as the right wing-back, James produced a sub-par performance in the first half, hardly carrying a threat when going down the right flank while also facing some nervy moments at the back. Stepped up in massively the second half and took up more dangerous positions in the final third while sending in some fine crosses into the Manchester City box.
Reece James had Mendy and Ake on strings tonight
86% passing accuracy
2 chances created
2/3 dribbles completed
7 duels won
— ChelseaFCBlogs (@ChelseaFCBlogs_) May 8, 2021
Billy Gilmour: 6/10
A workhorse in the middle of the park, Gilmour broke up Manchester City’s moves confidently while also initiating some swift moves. Did concede the penalty at the stroke of half-time, but there was no harm done in the end. Circulated the ball smartly post the interval and that helped in keeping Chelsea in control.
N’Golo Kante: 6/10
A solid customer at the base of the Chelsea midfield, Kante was typically industrious in his display, but was sloppy in possession at times, losing possession 12 times. Solid off the ball for the most part, though, the Frenchman won 3 duels while completing 3 tackles. Job well done.
Marcos Alonso: 7/10
Back in the starting lineup, Alonso was surprisingly solid at the back and did not let Cancelo come out on top in their duel. That also meant, though, that he failed to carry a lot of threat in the final third. However, he ended up making all the difference in the end, popping up inside the box to win all three points for Chelsea.
Christian Pulisic: 6/10
Another player who was back for Chelsea, Pulisic endured a difficult evening and struggled to carve out the openings for his teammates. Showed more purpose post the interval and took on the Manchester City defenders more often. Linked up brilliantly with James on occasion.
Hakim Ziyech: 8/10
Handed a rare chance to impress, Ziyech played some dangerous balls to bypass the Manchester City defence while also testing Ederson with a fabulous effort. Did have his goal in the second half, as he produced another stellar finish to make it 1-1. Inexplicably taken off for Callum Hudson-Odoi, despite being Chelsea’s best player.
Hakim Ziyech’s last two goals:
⚽️ vs. Man City
⚽️ vs. Man City
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) May 8, 2021
Timo Werner: 6/10
Leading the line for Chelsea against Manchester City, Werner was a bundle of energy but failed to produce the goods in the final third. Constantly took up dangerous positions and put Laporte to the sword, but had the tendency to stray offside as well. Did end up providing the assist for the winner, though. Getting back to his best, but it is a slow return.
Kurt Zouma: 7/10
On for Christensen at half-time, Zouma did not have much defending to do, with Chelsea in the driver’s seat for much of the second half. However, he did make one big tackle on Sterling inside the box, in what was a fine challenge. Slightly fortunate to not concede a penalty, though.
On for Kante, Jorginho was instrumental in handing Chelsea the advantage when pushing forward for the winner.
Callum Hudson-Odoi: N/A
Given the final 15 minutes to make an impact, Hudson-Odoi was instantly involved, but was pulled back for offside after finding the back of the net. A nippy customer who helped Chelsea to all three points in his way.