Goals from Ilkay Gundogan, Phil Foden and Kevin De Bruyne helped Manchester City to a dominant 3-1 win over Chelsea in a 2020-21 Premier League game at Stamford Bridge. Pep Guardiola's side looked at ease throughout and were hardly troubled by the hosts, whose downward slide seems to have no end.
Before the game, six Manchester City players, including first-team regulars like goalkeeper Ederson and forward Ferran Torres - tested positive for COVID-19. Zack Steffen made his Premier League debut, and Benjamin Mendy made way for Oleksandr Zinchenko in another forced change.
However, Chelsea's starting XI was pretty much along expected lines. Hakim Ziyech returned from a long injury lay-off, and manager Frank Lampard picked Mateo Kovacic to pair N'Golo Kante in a midfield double-pivot.
In the initial exchanges of the game, Chelsea looked lively and forced Manchester City into errors. Rodri nearly conceded a penalty with a contentious trip of Timo Werner, with Zack Steffen's rookie error handing the hosts an indirect free-kick. The hosts also had a series of corners that kept Manchester City's defence on their toes.
However, soon Manchester City assumed their ascendancy in the contest. The Sky Blues scored three goals past a hapless Chelsea defence. While luck did favour them on a few occasions, the onslaught was largely down to the brilliance of Kevin de Bruyne pulling the strings in midfield, and Gundogan and Foden pulling out top-drawer finishes.
Having squandered a sitter earlier in the game, De Bruyne made amends by scoring off a counterattack as Chelsea trailed by three goals at half-time.
In the second half, Guardiola brought on experienced holding midfielder Fernandinho to thwart Chelsea's hopes of a comeback. The hosts rang in the changes too and scored a goal, but it was too little too late as the visitors comfortably won the weekend's big-ticket fixture.
With Chelsea sliding below the Champions League qualification places and games coming thick and fast, pressure seems to be mounting on Frank Lampard. Manchester City, meanwhile, showed yet again why they are one of the best sides around in the Premier League.
On that note, let us take a look at how players from both camps fared in the game.
Chelsea Player Ratings :
Edouard Mendy - 4/10
Edouard Mendy was partially at fault for letting in two goals in the space of five minutes. However, the Senegalese shot-stopper wasn't culpable for Manchester City's third goal though.
Cesar Azpilicueta - 4.5/10
The longest-serving player in Chelsea's current squad, Cesar Azpilicueta was at fault for Manchester City's second goal, letting De Bruyne send in a low cross for Foden to finish at the near post. The Spaniard did not offer much in attack as well, as he was run ragged in defence by the likes of Foden and De Bruyne.
Kurt Zouma - 4.5/10
Kurt Zouma didn't do enough to stop Gundogan from opening Manchester City's scoring on the night, allowing him space for a snap shot after a decisive turn in the box. Zouma also left Foden unmarked a few minutes later, which led the visitors to double their lead. Overall, it was a terrible outing for the Frenchman whose weakness in positioning was thoroughly exposed.
Thiago Silva - 5/10
The 36-year old summer signing, Thiago Silva, is steadily emerging as the leader of Chelsea's backline. Even though he was good with his blocks and tackles and had a decent reading of the game, his lack of pace was brutally exposed by Manchester City's marauding forwards.
Ben Chilwell - 5/10
Some might say Ben Chilwell was Chelsea's best player in a lacklustre showing. The English left-back showed commendable work-rate as well as agility in attack. He was up to the task of containing the speedy Raheem Sterling for large parts of the game. However, the 25-year old could not bring in any sort of X-Factor that could help his team claw their way back into the contest.
Mateo Kovacic - 3.5/10
Mateo Kovacic, Chelsea's player of last season, could not match Manchester City's high tempo passing and movement. The Croatian was often caught out of position and failed to help Chelsea make the transition from defence to attack, as the Manchester City got the better of him on the press.
N'Golo Kante - 4/10
N'Golo Kante wasn't even close to his best against Manchester City. The 2018 FIFA World Cup winner was erratic; he was outpaced and physically overwhelmed by the visitors, earning a needless booking in the process.
Kante was also guilty of gifting Manchester City their third goal. He hardly strung any passes together, as he was chasing the ball for large swathes of the game.
Mason Mount - 4/10
Mason Mount, a Chelsea Academy product, was uninspiring against Manchester City. He looked a pale shadow of his illustrious self and failed to get going against Pep Guardiola's men.
Hakim Ziyech - 4.5/10
Hakim Ziyech was lively but failed to make enough pin-point crosses, as Ruben Dias and co had all the bases covered. In the absence of a target man and largely being restricted to long-range efforts, Ziyech's return from injury did not go as planned.
Timo Werner - 3.5/10
Timo Werner has been out of form for over two months now, and his dry spell in front of goal continued against Manchester City. The German summer signing was contained well by the Manchester City defence and hardly had any chances on goal.
Christian Pulisic - 3/10
Christian Pulisic looked a pale shadow of the player he was when Manchester City and Chelsea last met.
The American was contained well by Joao Cancelo, and he barely got a chance to cut inside and create chances. He did play a nice one-two with Werner that split open the Manchester City defence in the first half but scuffed the return ball.
Ratings of Chelsea substitutes:
Callum Hudson-Odoi - 6/10
Callum Hudson-Odoi came on in the 64th minute and looked lively. He did the hard running, kept the Manchester City full-backs on their heels and deservedly pulled one back for Chelsea. He has some way to go but is certainly pushing for a starting berth on the Blues' right flank.
Billy Gilmour - 4.5/10
Billy Gilmour came on along with Hudson-Odoi but couldn't make enough of an impact in the game, as Manchester City ruled the roost in midfield.
Kai Havertz - 5/10
Kai Havertz came on in the 75th minute and notched an assist in injury time. That must have done wonders to his confidence, as he has had no goal involvements in more than ten games prior to this one.