Frank Lampard could not have imagined this in even his worst dreams.
After first-half goals from Ilkay Gündogan, Phil Foden and Kevin De Bruyne, a game that was meant to be Chelsea’s opportunity to defend their title ended in a disgraceful loss as Manchester City made clear their own aspirations to get within striking distance of the top two positions. Chelsea 1-3 Manchester City: Premier League – here’s how it happened.
If not for the vital saves of goalkeeper Édouard Mendy in the second half, the results could have been even more humiliating for Lampard, who took with his side just four points from his last six games and suffered their fifth season loss. But although he needs to find a solution quickly as the pressure increases after investing more than £ 200 million on new players in the summer, Pep Guardiola’s side is building incredible momentum, suggesting that despite losing a number of players due to Covid-19, they are not to be overlooked after a third consecutive victory. The appearance on the bench of 35-year-old goalkeeping coach Scott Carson was an example of the problems faced by City before kick-off.
Despite the club promising to open an internal investigation into his violation of the Covid 19 regulations on New Year’s Eve, Benjamin Mendy was also named as one of only eight substitutes, while Sergio Agüero was again deemed not fit enough to start. After it was reported that Ederson, Ferran Torres and Eric García had tested positive for the coronavirus, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Foden were recalled and U.S. goalkeeper Zack Steffen was granted his first Premier League start.
Lampard had no such concerns, on the other hand, and made five improvements from the frustrating draw against Aston Villa. In the new-look attack for the first time since the victory over Leeds last month, Hakim Ziyech returned from injury to start alongside Timo Werner and Christian Pulisic. The return of Thiago Silva and Kurt Zouma to the central defense of Chelsea FC would usually have been a welcome sight for the coach after his side in recent weeks fell back into old habits, but the visitors put in an impressive first-half display to take them apart. Guardiola, who turns 50 in two weeks, said he is considering this week whether to remain in management longer than originally expected, having already decided to prolong his stay at City. Since losing to Tottenham in November, the team has lost only three of its last 11 games in all competitions and looked ready to counter against opponents who have made a habit of not breaking teams in major games. When Foden’s precise pass set up De Bruyne, City should have taken the lead in the 15th minute, but he uncharacteristically missed. However, after Raheem Sterling checked the Chelsea defense, Gündogan scored the opening goal unchallenged after being set up by Foden, which seemed to spur the visitors. As City extended their lead two minutes and 37 seconds later, the England midfielder was again in the thick of the action, De Bruyne feeding him with a pass that Mendy slid past the near post.
Chelsea tried desperately to counter-attack, but they were again forced to pay after failing to generate a single shot on goal in the first half-hour, when De Bruyne put the ball against the Sterling free-kick post. It was the first time they had conceded three first-half goals at Stamford Bridge since losing to Burnley in August 2017, and Lampard left the dressing room at half-time feeling as if he had seen a ghost. Maddison and Tielemans fired Leicester into third position after winning at Newcastle.
Surprisingly, in the second half, he sent the same squad onto the pitch as Chelsea looked to save at least a little bit of dignity, but again it was City that took charge. Mendy saved Zinchenko’s shot well and the Senegalese goalkeeper had to use all his ability to hold Rodri’s header out of a De Bruyne free kick.
Finally, Lampard took Callum Hudson-Odoi and Billy Gilmour into the second half for 20 minutes, and N’Golo Kante had to make way, too. But there was no sign of top scorer Olivier Giroud, even with Werner back in attack, and Steffen remained