Chelsea lost further ground on their hunt for European football this season as Manchester City came away with a narrow 1-0 win from Stamford Bridge on Thursday evening. On a night when Jack Grealish proved a point and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang did quite the opposite, Express Sport takes you through four things we leaned from a heavyweight Premier League clash.
Aubameyang disgusted by humiliation
It was a rough day for both Raheem Sterling and Christian Pulisic, who trudged off injured in the early stages of the showdown at Stamford Bridge. Aubameyang didn’t have it much better, however, as he was subbed off well before the end, having come on to replace Sterling in the first half.
The former Arsenal striker shook his head in disgust upon realising that his number had been held aloft and barely acknowledged Graham Potter before taking his spot on the bench. Aubameyang was signed by Thomas Tuchel in the summer just days before the German was given his marching orders by the Blues.
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Jack Grealish makes statement
It came as a surprise to some that Grealish was left on the bench at Stamford Bridge with Phil Foden chosen to start on the left flank. Foden remains City’s golden boy but he had a tough time establishing authority against Chelsea and was hauled off around the hour mark.
Grealish came on to take his place and made an instant impact, drifting down the wing and laying a pinpoint cross on a plate for Riyad Mahrez, who gave the Sky Blues the lead. The former Aston Villa talisman almost came up trumps again minutes later by kick-starting a move that nearly saw Erling Haaland poke home, showing Pep Guardiola that he has to start in big games.
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Pep tinkering almost backfires
It’s not uncommon for Guardiola to set out unorthodox personnel and formations against managers he respects. Potter falls into that category, as evidenced by the Spaniard starting with a back-three with Joao Cancelo playing high on the right and Bernardo Silva deep in midfield.
City were far from their free-flowing best before Guardiola admitted defeat and introduced two changes at half-time, reverting to a back-four by bringing off Cancelo and Kyle Walker. The Sky Blues looked far more complete thereafter and raised renewed questions about the boss’ tendency to tinker in crunch matches.
Potter forced to roll the dice
The Chelsea boss was forced to think on his feet during the opening stages of the game with Sterling and Pulisic both coming off injured. That brought about an opportunity for youngster Carney Chukwuemeka to shine and he very nearly took it, thumping the base of the post with a first-half effort.
Potter was urged to roll the dice again when City went 1-0 up after the break through Mahrez, although injuries meant that the only forward-thinking stars he could turn to were unproven. There were audible gasps from the crowd as Omari Hutchinson and Lewis Hall were brought on with a fair chunk of the game to play, and although they failed to set the game alight, supporters should expect to see plenty more of them in the future.