Eight in a row for Chelsea as City lose their heads
This was a performance of champions from Chelsea and a meltdown from nine-man Manchester City. Those are the basic tenets of this immensely impressive 3-1 away win but barely tell the story of this utterly remarkable match.
City manager Pep Guardiola will regret a series of missed chances, defensive errors and referee calls, as City should have scored so much more than a fortuitous Gary Cahill own goal on the stroke of half time.
That still shouldn’t take away from Chelsea’s reaction, though. This yet again was the response of title-winners from Antonio Conte’s side.
City didn’t just lose the game, but they lost their heads. They ended the game with both Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho sent off by referee Anthony Taylor as the frustration of it all got to them.
There was a lot to be frustrated about. Having created a series of chances that saw Kevin De Bruyne inexplicably hit the bar with the easiest of opportunities from close range, they also saw David Luiz shoulder Aguero when through on goal and Ilkay Gundogan go down in the box.
They were still in control, though, but Chelsea couldn’t be beaten. For the second match in a row, after last week’s 2-1 home win over Tottenham Hotspur, Conte’s men came from behind to roar through their opponents.
On the hour, surprise starter Cesc Fabregas played a glorious ball forward for Diego Costa, who easily brushed off the hapless Nicolas Otamendi to equalise.
The game had fundamentally changed. City no longer had the same grasp on it and couldn’t get to grips with Chelsea’s counters. Within 10 minutes, it was 2-1, as a blinding counterattack saw Willian drive the ball past Claudio Bravo, who made a feeble attempt at stopping it. The killer goal came from a similar move, as Eden Hazard made it 3-1 in the 90th minute.
That led to Aguero wildly lunging at Luiz as they went for the same ball — getting a deserved red card. In the melee that followed, Fernandinho was also sent off.
City had been sent packing. Chelsea, meanwhile, keep soaring.