You’re welcome, Liverpool.
To say that Chelsea beat Manchester City by sitting deep and absorbing pressure would be an understatement. This was a performance right out of José Mourinho’s playbook, strategically picking moments to hurt the opposition and doing so with success.
Despite not having the ball, Chelsea dictated proceedings and were in complete control of the game except for two patches of play.
2 - Chelsea have lost possession in only 2 out of their 31 league games this season (Spurs & Man City), however they managed to win both games with the score of 2-1. Tactical.— OptaChelsea (@OptaChels) June 25, 2020
After the first 20 minutes, Chelsea grew into the game and Christian Pulisic’s goal was the culmination of our sustained threat on the counter. Even without Pulisic’s goal, Chelsea had more shots, shots on target and shots inside the box than Man City in the first half.
A questionable foul from N’Golo Kanté led to Kevin de Bruyne’s equalizer, although Chelsea had every right to feel aggrieved about conceding the goal having had control of the game. We were nearly made to pay more for our naïveté minutes later, as City exploited our tendency to commit too many men forward on corners.
The woodwork came to Chelsea’s rescue for perhaps the first time this season.
After Raheem Sterling’s miss, however, it was broadly one way traffic. City did have more of the ball but every good chance came from Chelsea.
Mason Mount did well to recover a pass from Ederson and should have hit the target. Kyle Walker’s acrobatics denied Pulisic a second goal before Fernandinho resorted to volleyball tactics to prevent Tammy Abraham from scoring.
Unlike Chelsea’s home game against Manchester United, VAR noted Chelsea’s pleas and awarded a penalty which was promptly converted by Willian.
Got the team spot on from a tactical perspective. Chelsea’s best attacking performances this season — Newcastle, Brighton and Everton at home and the second half of Arsenal at home — have all come with a midfield comprising of Mason Mount, Ross Barkley and a defensive midfielder.
Defensively, the team was rock-solid for the most part and did an exceptional job preventing De Bruyne (32 touches in the final third, 12 lower than this seasonal average) and Bernardo Silva (13 final third touches in 54 minutes, lower than his average of 39.4 final third touches per 90) from accessing the ball in dangerous areas.
The team were compact without compromising attacking effectiveness. Perhaps the greatest praise that can be given to the team is that they were mature, something that cannot be said except for select games such as against Ajax (away) and Tottenham.
Picking Olivier Giroud in the starting XI was perhaps Lampard’s only mistake and even that did not majorly hamper Chelsea’s odds of winning.
Pulled off a good, albeit routine, save from Fernandinho early in the first half. Could have perhaps done better to prevent City’s goal but that is bound to be a divisive topic.
Needs to cut out mistakes such as the one in the first half which almost led to a goal. His goalkeeping in the 1-v-1 situation with Sterling left much to be desired as well.
Mammoth performance from the Chelsea captain. Committed in the tackle, intelligent in picking his forays forward and secure with the ball. Did a great job shutting down the dangerous Raheem Sterling.
Stats of note: 3 tackles won, 22 pressures, 2 interceptions, 2 clearances, 4 aerial duels won and 9 recoveries. Was the leading or joint-leading Chelsea player in terms of aerial duels won, successful tackles and recoveries. Was the second highest in terms of pressures and interceptions.
You won’t see this writer say this often but this was a 10/10 performance. Supreme in every aspect. If Christensen can maintain this level going forward, he could well be the answer to our centre back woes.
Stats of note: 2/2 aerial duels won, 6/6 ground duels won, 3 tackles won, 4 clearances, 38 carries, 2 blocks, 3 passes into the final third, 2 switches of play, 6 passes under pressure and 11/12 long passes. In all the above metrics except passes under pressure (joint-third), Christensen was either the leading or the second-highest player in the team.
An effective and efficient performance from Rüdiger. Kept things simple at the back and was crucial in shackling Bernardo Silva. Could have perhaps done better in passing the ball vertically but a good performance regardless.
Stats of note: 18/21 long passes, 5 clearances and 32 carries. Was the leading Chelsea player in the first two metrics, second highest for carries.
Was widely expected to struggle against the tricky Riyad Mahrez but managed to hold his own. Did not offer his usual threat going forward but did a great job in remaining disciplined and holding his position.
Stats of note: 2 passes into the box, 9 passes under pressure and 3 blocks. Was the highest or joint-highest in all three metrics.
This game was widely seen as Kanté’s litmus test as a lone holding midfielder and he did a commendable job. He will have better games on the ball going forward but his defensive hustle was crucial in blocking passing lanes and keeping things tight. Conceded a silly foul that lead to De Bruyne’s equalizer but was solid, if unspectacular, otherwise.
Stats of note: 3 interceptions, 9 recoveries, 3 clearances, 1 block, 9/12 long passes and 2 passes into the final third. Led the team in interceptions and recoveries.
Wasn’t as good as he was against Aston Villa but played a crucial role alongside Kanté in keeping De Bruyne quiet. Sacrificed his attacking instincts for the greater good of the team, although his pass timing and selection needs improvement.
Also did well to get on the end of a reasonably good chance against Ederson but got his shot off target. Showed excellent self-belief to get a shot off with his weak foot but lacked the execution.
Stats of note: 28 pressures, 17 pressures in midfield, 6 touches in the penalty box, 27 carries and 8 passes under pressure. Was in the top 3 for all the above metrics.
Was selected over Kovačić due to his understanding with Mount and his ability to occupy defenders in the final third. He did keep play moving but did not offer much in the way of attacking threat.
Showed why Lampard, Mourinho and pretty much every manager he has worked under rates him so highly. Did a great job relieving pressure and his long-range run was a large reason behind our second goal.
His ability to keep motoring even in the late stages of the game was outstanding. His usual decision-making flaws were present but that should not take the shine off what was a wonderful performance.
Stats of note: 1 goal, 4 touches in the box, 2 successful dribbles, 8 passes under pressure, 2 switches of play, 2 passes into the final third and 6 progressive passes. Was in the top 2 for all the above metrics.
Was picked to facilitate final-third interplay and while he did that to a reasonable level, it was short of his usually high standards. Also strayed offside far too often. Did a good, not great, job overall.
Stats of note: 4 aerial duels won and 6 passes under pressure.
If the performance had to be summed up in one word, it would be electric, combining aspects of Raheem Sterling, the man Lampard wants Pulisic and Callum Hudson-Odoi to emulate, and Eden Hazard, the man Pulisic was bought to replace.
Stats of note: 1 goal, 2 big chances received, 4 successful dribbles, 6 touches in the penalty box, 27 carries, 3 progressive passes and 2 passes into the final third. Was in the top 3 for all the above metrics.
A rather peculiar performance from Tammy. His pace opened up space behind City’s defence and immediately made Chelsea more threatening with the ball. His ability to find space in the box, too, was commendable.
However, he seemed to have left his shooting boots at home, missing a reasonable chance even before Fernandinho decided to use his hand. That said, none of the chances except for one coming from a Willian cross were particularly easy.
Stats of note: 3 big chances received, 3 big chances missed, 3 touches in penalty box, 3 shots, 12 pressures in 29 minutes.
Was primarily brought on to retain the ball and keep play ticking over and fulfilled his job effectively. Almost fashioned a chance by pressing Gundogan too.
Billy Gilmour and Pedro did not play enough to warrant a rating.
Let us know in the comments section if you agree or disagree with these ratings. If you have any questions, drop them below or feel free to ask me on @ExpectedChelsea on Twitter.