Kevin de Bruyne's long-range prowess - Seven deadly stats from Chelsea 0-1 Man City

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After the one-sided affairs that Liverpool vs Arsenal and Manchester City vs Liverpool turned out to be, Saturday night’s clash between Chelsea and City seemed like the first true title battle.

Chelsea had the chance to go level on points with their opponents and Manchester United atop the Premier League table, but it always seemed like a City win would be an even bigger statement, a message that unlike last year, this City side are genuine title contenders.

Kevin de Bruyne’s wonder strike for City thus laid down a marker, as Pep Guardiola’s side earned a hard-fought 1-0 win at the home of the champions. For all the thumpings City have been dishing out this season, this win was perhaps the most impressive, as they dominated the game, barely allowed Chelsea a sniff at a goal, and made sure to take one of their chances in order to get the win.

Here are seven deadly stats from the game…

WHO NEEDS AGUERO?

Sergio Aguero’s absence from this fixture after his car crash earlier in the week denied viewers the chance to see two of the Premier League’s leading scorers square off, but it gave Gabriel Jesus the chance to show what he can do on his own.

He was a menace to Chelsea’s defence throughout with his movement leading the line, and he linked up well with the rest of the City attack throughout the game.

At no point was this more evident than City’s goal, when the Brazilian teed up De Bruyne perfectly with an exquisite touch into the Belgian’s path.

DE BRUYNE’S LONG-RANGE PROWESS

De Bruyne is a player who has it all. The Belgian is blessed with tremendous vision on the ball, the ability to pick a perfect through ball, and overall passing range. And, to top it off, he’s got a thunderous shot. 

Seven of De Bruyne’s 14 Premier League goals for City have come from outside the box, and Saturday night’s strike was a stunner. He left compatriot Thibaut Courtois with absolutely no chance of keeping it out. 

HAZARD KEPT QUIET

While one star Belgian stole the show, another had minimal impact on the game. Much was expected of Eden Hazard, but a combination of City’s dominance in possession and Chelsea’s toothlessness in attack meant the player Alvaro Morata described as one of the three best in the world had little opportunity to show his talent.

Hazard wasn’t helped by Morata coming off with a first-half injury. The two had shown signs of developing an excellent understanding in the midweek Champions League win over Atletico Madrid but without Morata, there was no one to link up with for Hazard.

Still, it was another underwhelming performance in a crucial game – Hazard hasn’t completely shaken off criticisms that he can go missing in games such as these. He’ll have to, in order to live up to Morata’s claims.

CHELSEA ATTACK FEELING HOME BLUES

Chelsea’s failure to score against Arsenal at home two weeks ago was a shock, so what do we call failing to score in two straight home games?

City’s possession-based football left Chelsea’s attack with few opportunities of creating a goal, but that’s no excuse. More is expected of the reigning champions, especially at home, regardless of the opposition, yet the Blues’ attack was more or less invisible on Saturday.

Apart from not scoring, they managed only four shots, their fewest in any Premier League game under Conte and their fewest in a home league game since January 2015 – also against Manchester City.

CRACKS APPEARING AT STAMFORD BRIDGE FORTRESS

While the supposed crisis that had seemingly erupted after Chelsea’s opening-day 3-2 defeat at home to Burnley has undoubtedly abated, the champions’ home form is under scrutiny again after Saturday.

Last season, Chelsea suffered a 2-1 home loss to Liverpool early in their campaign, and then a shock 2-1 reverse to Crystal Palace in April – these were the only two times Chelsea dropped points at home. This season they’ve already failed to win on three separate occasions.

With City and Manchester United looking formidable at home (and away, for that matter), this sort of home form will leave it hard for Chelsea to keep the Premier League trophy at Stamford Bridge.

CITY IN SUBLIME FORM AT THE BACK AND UP FRONT

There was a theory at the start of the season that despite massive spending on defenders (albeit largely on fullbacks, plus one goalkeeper), City’s defence remained vulnerable.

The notion hasn’t been completely dismissed given the way Liverpool were running City ragged before Sadio Mane was sent off in the two sides’ fixture earlier this month, but perhaps its time to give Guardiola’s defence some credit.

City have the joint-best defensive record in the league, conceding only twice this season on the way to tallying five clean sheets at this point. Ederson hasn’t struggled in goal as many thought he might, and John Stones doesn’t look as shaky as he used to.

They’d still prefer having club captain Vincent Kompany fit for every game – who wouldn’t – but they’re coping well without one of the Premier League’s best defenders.

PEP FINALLY GETS ELUSIVE WIN

Prior to Saturday, Guardiola’s only win against Chelsea came in the European Super Cup in 2013. Guardiola was Bayern Munich manager then, while Chelsea were managed by Jose Mourinho, and even then, it took a penalty shootout for Guardiola’s side to get the win.

It’s safe to say the Spaniard will relish this victory.

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Pep Guardiola hails 'important' Man City win as Kevin de Bruyne thunderbolt downs Chelsea

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Pep Guardiola termed the 1-0 victory as important in the title-run.

Pep Guardiola labelled Manchester City’s 1-0 win over Chelsea as an “important” moment in the leaders’ bid to dethrone the Premier League champions.

Kevin De Bruyne’s second half thunderbolt gave City a victory that keeps them top of the table, above Manchester United on goal difference, heading into the international break.

After losing twice to Chelsea last season and finishing 15 points behind the Blues, Guardiola believes his side’s well deserved success at Stamford Bridge was a significant statement of intent.

“There are no words to describe what Chelsea are and what they did last season. It is important to win and especially with the way we played,” he said.

“In the first half we didn’t find the right position but in the second we were better. A big congratulations for the victory.

“We had control and in the second half we adjusted our possession and the way we attacked. Chelsea could not play and had to do long balls.”

De Bruyne’s first league goal of the season came against the club that sold him to Wolfsburg in 2014 and Guardiola was delighted to see the 26-year-old seize the spotlight on his return to west London

“Everyone is talking about Kevin de Bruyne. He makes absolutely everything. He is the most humble guy, I am so happy for him because I know how happy he is,” Guardiola said.

 during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Manchester City at Stamford Bridge on September 30, 2017 in London, England.

de Bruyne’s strike left Courtois with no chance.

Blues boss Antonio Conte claimed Chelsea had paid the price for a busy week that included a Champions League trip to Spain for their midweek win over Atletico Madrid.

“In this type of game you need time to recover. If you are tired it is not simple to go box to box. Today we created chances but we didn’t take them. Manchester City had chances and they took them,” he said.

“It was a tough game but we know very well that City are a big team and it’s very difficult to play this type of game.

“It is logical when you play three games in seven days you risk something.”

Adding to Conte’s frustration was a first half injury to Spain striker Alvaro Morata.

“I hope it is not a serious injury for Morata. It is his hamstring but we don’t know if it is a serious problem,” he said.

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How Man City boss Pep Guardiola won tactical battle in 1-0 win over Chelsea - Manager Microscope

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Pep Guardiola outfoxed Antonio Conte as Manchester City underlined their Premier League title credentials with a 1-0 win at Chelsea.

It was the first time in eight attempts that Guardiola, as a manager, has overseen victory against Chelsea in normal time and few could argue with the result, sealed by a superb second-half strike from Kevin de Bruyne.

Here, Press Association Sport takes a close look at Guardiola’s tactical triumph.

SELECTION

Conte opted for the defensive nous of Cesar Azpilicueta at right wing-back instead of Victor Moses, perhaps with restricting the in-form Leroy Sane in mind. Andreas Christensen continued in place of the suspended David Luiz while for City, Fabian Delph’s encouraging displays at left wing-back meant he kept his spot and Danilo was left on the bench.

Azpilicueta did a convincing job against Sane but Conte’s decision epitomised Chelsea’s defensive approach, focused more on frustrating City than putting their own positive stamp on the match. Delph proved an astute choice again at left-back. Apart from one nervous moment defending a back-post cross late on, the 27-year-old continued his recent revival with a convincing display.

SYSTEM

City started with what was probably closest to a 4-2-3-1, Sane and Raheem Sterling out wide and David Silva roaming behind Jesus up front. In possession, however, Guardiola’s side were a collection on moving parts, Kyle Walker and Delph in particular given freedom to wander inside and support the midfield.

Chelsea began with three – Cesc Fabregas, Tiemoue Bakayoko and N’Golo Kante – in midfield but they struggled to contain City through the middle and were regularly outnumbered down the flanks. City pressed their opponents high and controlled the ball while Chelsea struggled for an outlet. When they did launch attacks they found themselves regularly exposed on the break.

Pep Guardiola

Pep Guardiola

CHANGES

Alvaro Morata was forced off with what looked like a hamstring injury in the first half and it was Willian, rather than fellow striker Michy Batshuayi, who replaced him. With Hazard pushed up front just ahead of the Brazilian, Chelsea were effectively now playing 3-5-2 but the move never really worked.

Hazard went off in the second half and Willian was lucky not to depart with him. Batshuayi might have felt he should been brought on sooner and his introduction with Pedro felt like a last throw of the dice. For City, Sterling and Sane switched sides before half-time, perhaps to give Sane a go at the more attacking Marcos Alonso but City began the second half as they ended the first.

When De Bruyne finally broke the deadlock, Guardiola brought on fresh legs in Ilkay Gundogan and Bernardo Silva, but his side never really looked under pressure late on.

OVERALL

City played like the home side here by pressing on the front foot, dictating possession and creating chances. Perhaps Chelsea were simply unable to cope but their plan seemed to be to absorb their opponents rather than establish any authority.

After Chelsea’s brilliant win over Atletico Madrid in the Champions League in midweek, this was a step back for Conte’s men. City, meanwhile, have laid down an early marker in the title race. This was one of their best performances since Guardiola took charge.

Antonio Conte

Antonio Conte

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