The biggest game of the season so far pitted last season’s top 2 against each other, but the in the end, it was hardly a contest at all. Manchester City’s resounding 3-0 win against defending champions Chelsea on Sunday has sent a clear message to every team in the Premier League. Manuel Pellegrini’s men let the Blues from London have a free-way ticket to the title last season, but seem more determined than ever to win back their crown.
A dominant performance which included goals from Sergio Aguero, Vincent Kompany and Fernandinho saw City reclaim top spot, with 6 goals scored and none conceded in their two matches so far.
From Chelsea’s point of view, they will consider themselves lucky the scoreline wasn’t more embarrassing, as they struggled to cope with the pace and movement of the home side’s attacking players.
Start as you mean to go on
City could have and should have been in the lead inside the first 15 seconds, with David Silva putting Aguero through on goal with a simple through ball. Chelsea’s sloppy defence had carried on from where it left off last week against Swansea City, and John Terry and Co. were thankful to Asmir Begovic for making a crucial save and denying their opponents a dream start.
Begovic, who was filling in for the suspended Thibaut Courtois, was called into action again before too long, making two fine low saves from Aguero. City were running riot, and it seemed a matter of time before they opened the scoring. Chelsea had no attack of note at all, with the threats of Diego Costa and Eden Hazard expertly nullified.
The breakthrough arrived on the half-hour mark and Aguero finally got his goal. The Premier League’s top marksman from last season coolly slotted in with his left foot, keeping his head despite being surrounded by Gary Cahill, John Terry and Nemanja Matic. The floodgates had opened and with the way Chelsea were playing, it looked like more goals would come before half-time. But, the Blues managed to hold on.
Chances created in the first half: Aleksandar Kolarov 4-3 Chelsea pic.twitter.com/c377ZwnnB1
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) August 16, 2015
A surprise substitution and some renewed hope
Jose Mourinho made a surprising change at half-time, bringing on French youngster Kurt Zouma for captain John Terry. This was the first time in 177 games that the Portuguese had brought Terry off, a clear indication of how poorly he rated Chelsea’s first-half performance.
The visitors started the second period in much brighter fashion, seeing a lot more of the ball and creating openings. Their biggest chance fell to Ramires 10 minutes in, and the Brazilian managed to prod the ball home after Cesc Fabregas’ ball over the top. But, as he wheeled away in celebration, the offside flag went up. Replays showed that it was touch and go, and Chelsea had a reason to feel hard done by.
The Blues had certainly gained a lot more control in the match and had another golden opportunity to equalise, this time through Hazard. But, after being set up by Costa on the penalty spot, the Belgian could only shoot straight at Joe Hart.
With ten minutes to go, City extinguished all hopes of a Chelsea comeback by scoring a second. Silva’s corner was met by Vincent Kompany, who managed to rise above Branislav Ivanovic to head home his second goal in as many games.
The result was secure, and some further gloss was added to it 5 minutes later when Ivanovic’s silly give-away was seized upon by Fernandinho to rifle home an absolute screamer from the edge of the box. The scoreline spoke volumes of the gulf in class between the two teams.
Reaction and Analysis
Chelsea were poor from the first whistle and the defence is in absolute shambles. A deal has been agreed to sign Abdul Baba Rahman from Bundesliga side Augsburg, but they need a stronger centre-half as well (somebody whose name rhymes with Ron Jones, maybe?).
This is the perfect kick up the backside for @chelseafc Signings, change in approach, humility and calmness will all do wonders for CFC
— Kashyap (@PropJose) August 17, 2015
They looked much better in the second half with Zouma on the pitch, which makes one wonder if this is Terry’s last season at Stamford Bridge. In an attacking sense, Hazard needs to start taking his chances. His lack of goals is the only barrier left for him to be considered one of the best in the world, and he simply has to stop passing up opportunities in crucial moments like this.
City, on the other hand, just cannot wait for the next game to come along, as they look to push on and establish an early lead at the top. Aguero is off and running, while both Silva and Yaya Toure are looking very threatening. Two clean sheets in as many games means that they have been the complete package thus far, and are certainly the team to beat going into the next few weeks.