Manchester City’s unbeaten start to the Premier League came to an end against Chelsea, which means that Liverpool will end the weekend as league leaders with Pep Guardiola’s side dropping to second.
David Luiz sealed the three points with a late header to double the lead that N’Golo Kante gave the home side with a strike from the edge of the area. Eden Hazard showed his class with a bit of skill to find space and pull the ball back to the edge of the area and the French midfielder arrived with perfect timing and finished well.
Along with losing their undefeated record, Guardiola will be most disappointed by the lack of chances his side created as they begin a testing festive period.
Here’s five things we learned from Stamford Bridge
Sarri gets the response he wanted
Sarri accused his side of going into ‘blackout’ mode when they concede and questioned Chelsea’s in-game management following consecutive away defeats against Tottenham and Wolves.
In the win against City he will have been delighted not only that they hold onto their lead, but they built on it and put a second past the champions.
After two defeats in their last three games, questions were arising about the longevity of Chelsea’s honeymoon period under the new manager, but this important victory may well ignite a second wind.
City slump to defeat in final test
On paper, this was arguably City’s final difficult fixture of the season. Their only defeats in their title-winning season last year came at Anfield and at home against Manchester United, this term they avoided defeat at Liverpool and beat their rivals on home soil.
Having also won at The Emirates, travelling to Chelsea was possibly the final difficult test for Guardiola’s side.
The lack of creativity will seriously concern the meticulous boss and the return of Sergio Aguero seemingly cannot come soon enough. There was further bad news as David Silva limped off the pitch with a suspected hamstring injury.
Hazard needs just one chance
In a half that City completely dominated and deserved to go into the break as leaders, Chelsea struck first with their first shot of the game in the 45th minute
Hazard once again put his world class ability on show and needed just one chance to influence the game. He collected the ball on the left-side of the box and weaved through challenges before pulling the ball back to a dangerous area where Kante arrived on cue to fire Chelsea into the lead.
The Belgian winger only had 15 touches in the first half, but it was enough to change the game and remind everyone why he is the best player in the league.
Liverpool handed major title boost
Liverpool’s 4-0 win against Bournemouth took them to the top of the table but Jurgen Klopp said he was not fussed by when they play and added that it is hard not to focus on the other side’s results.
While Liverpool’s win earlier in the day is unlikely to serious have impacted the result, there will be delight in the Merseyside as they end the weekend at the top of the league.
The delight may not stop in Liverpool, City’s defeat suggests that the title race is far from already over, as many have been suggesting, and is could be a lot closer than first thought. Is it Liverpool’s year?
Sarri does not trust his forwards
Both managers opted for a false nine at the top of their team at Stamford Bridge, but while Pep Guardiola’s hand was forced to a degree by the injury to Sergio Aguero, Maurizio Sarri’s decision to leave Olivier Giroud on the bench and omit Alvaro Morata from the entire squad appeared a purely tactical choice.
It is the strongest signal yet of Sarri’s true feelings about his forward options, and for the Italian to turn to Eden Hazard as a false nine against the Premier League champions shows how little he trusts the more orthodox forward pair on the big occasions.
For all the talk around Chelsea’s imbalanced midfield, and concern around the positioning of Kante, and Jorginho’s lack of defensive nous, Sarri’s priority is to solve his attacking conundrum – if not in January then surely next summer.