Manchester City looked back to their excellent best as they despatched of Chelsea to pile the pressure on Frank Lampard.
Chelsea started the brightest and enjoyed a dominant opening 15 minutes, however, after Manchester City finally established a foothold in the game, they quickly got themselves ahead – Ilkay Gundogan creating space for himself with a smart swivel on the edge of the box before firing low past Edouard Mendy into the bottom corner.
City swiftly doubled their lead three minutes later, Phil Foden driving at the Chelsea backline and continuing his run in toward the near post after the ball went wide. It was fizzed back into the unmarked England international from Kevin De Bruyne and Foden swept home left-footed to put the Citizens two up.
13 minutes later and it was three, Raheem Sterling scampering away as Chelsea failed to make the most of an attacking free-kick, and just as it looked as though the chance had gone after the England forward was pushed wide, his curling effort came back off the post and into the path of De Bruyne who despatched the rebound into the back of the net.
The second half stats show that Chelsea dominated possession, though make no mistake, it was City who were firmly in control as they showed a willingness to sit back and wait for what felt like an inevitable mistake before looking to hit on the break.
26 – Chelsea have three points fewer after 17 league games than they did last season (29), whilst in the Premier League era, the Blues have never finished higher than 6th when amassing a maximum of 26 points at this stage of a campaign. Pressure. pic.twitter.com/jEAFvPa1Pr
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 3, 2021
Chelsea did, however, pull a goal back with virtually the last kick of the game, finally getting in behind City’s defence with Kai Havertz’s low cross being met by Callum Hudson-Odoi at the back post who fired past an otherwise untested ‘keeper Zack Steffen.
Speaking afterwards, Pep Guardiola was understandably pleased with his side’s ‘excellent’ display.
“They press and push in the first minutes we suffered a little bit because we didn’t concede almost anything except the goal in the last minute but we play really well,” he told Sky Sports. “The result is excellent at Stamford Bridge but the way we play was really great you can’t win titles without playing like that.
“Chelsea one of the strongest teams. They are suffering from the last game but you see the quality of their players and the bench. We had a plan we tried to play like we have in the past and it worked. The players were excellent in every way, especially with the ball. We cannot play like other teams, we have to play in our rhythm and attack in the right moment. We won titles in that way, more patient. We missed a bit of this tempo and today we had it.
“We don’t have the physicality and quality of players to make quick transitions, maybe Raheem Sterling and Kevin de Bruyne but the others haven’t played with the ball. You create problems and that’s what we have to do. From the keeper to the striker we have to put the ball on the grass, make 1000 passes and pick the right moment.”
City have endured a slow start to the season, but looked back to their slick best, and the Catalan said his side rediscovered their ‘tempo’.
“Same manager, same backroom staff, the players are the same and the ideas are completely the same. The way we won leagues and titles and other things is the way we played today. The tempo we have missed in the past, today we recovered it.”
Phil Foden's game by numbers vs. Chelsea:
4 chances created
3 fouls won
1 shot on target
An impressive performance from the youngster. pic.twitter.com/AsYuHQERdJ
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 3, 2021
Asked about his thoughts on Phil Foden’s performance, the City academy graduate playing on the left of a front three, Guardiola was effusive.
“So proud – he never dropped one bit of his energy he can play up front in all four positions. He has a sense of goal, he scored a fantastic goal. We rely on him incredibly, for England and the national team, he will be a top player because he’s so clever and calm. He made another great performance today.”
Next up for City is a Manchester derby against Man Utd in the Carabao Cup semi-finals.