Gabriel Jesus’ strike proved the difference as Chelsea slipped to their first defeat of the season at home to Manchester City on Saturday.
Thomas Tuchel opted to continue with the 3-5-2 formation that was so effective in the second-half against Tottenham last weekend, with the major surprise seeing Timo Werner come into the side in place of Kai Havertz – who netted the winning goal when the two sides last met in the Champions League final.
In what was an underwhelming first 45 minutes, it was Man City who dominated proceedings, albeit with that possession counting for little as they struggled to fashion any major openings, with both sides going in at the break having failed to register a shot on target.
Chelsea had largely been camped inside their own half for much of the opening period, yet, as ever, the European champions defended resolutely to deny their rivals, even after having been disrupted by the withdrawal of England international Reece James due to injury.
The deserved breakthrough did eventually come after the interval, however, as Gabriel Jesus brilliantly worked a yard of space for himself inside the Blues box before squeezing his effort through a line of bodies, with the aid of a slight deflection from Jorginho.
That opener seemed to spark the game into life, with Jesus then denied a second by an excellent block from substitute Thiago Silva on the line, before Romelu Lukaku saw his close-range finish swiftly ruled out for offside in the buildup.
With a frantic finale in-store, Mateo Kovacic saw his effort deflected wide by a sliding Ruben Dias, while summer signing Jack Grealish then wasted an excellent chance to put the game to bed after firing his effort straight at Edouard Mendy.
Chelsea 0-1 Man City FT:
Shots on target: 0-4
Big Chances: 0-2
Touches in opp. box: 8-27
Pass accuracy: 82%-88%
The perfect display from Pep Guardiola's side. pic.twitter.com/mSs72mIDO9
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 25, 2021
City would eventually survive that breathless last half an hour so to hang on for the win, with that victory moving them ahead of the Blues into second place on goal difference.
Following that disappointing defeat, Tuchel admitted that his side simply were not at their ‘best level’ on the day as their unbeaten run came to an end.
“We lost the game and City deserved to win,” he told BT Sport. “Until the goal we were very strong in the last 20 metres of the field, but only there unfortunately. Everywhere else we were not good enough to relieve pressure and to hurt them.
“The performance was not complex enough. Overall, simply, we were not at our best level.
“After the goal it felt a little bit like the belief in winning was bigger than the fear of losing, I don’t know why. We tried to push and get the crowd behind us. It was a very emotional game but never on our highest level.
“We conceded a goal from a set play. Even if we wanted to go for long balls for Romelu [Lukaku] it was not precise enough. I didn’t really feel the belief that we could escape the short balls. It was doubtful and it felt like we had something to lose. We lacked a little bit of freshness also.”
Chelsea are next in action away against Juventus in the Champions League on Wednesday, before they take on Southampton at home on Saturday.
See also – Chelsea v Man City – Combined XI