Premier League Review: Sarri Provides Pep with Tactical Masterclass

Chelsea 2-0 Manchester City

Chelsea won’t win the Premier League title this season – but they may have a big say in who does.

The Premier League 2018 betting odds have swung again after a Saturday in which the reigning champions slumped to a defeat against the perfect masterclass from the 2017 champions, hours after Liverpool had moved top following a convincing win at Bournemouth.

It was a year ago this weekend that the Premier League title race was officially declared over.

Even at that stage, Manchester City’s 2-1 victory at Old Trafford put an end to any realistic chance of their nearest challengers embarking on an outside Premier League title bid.

us fans know it is much closer this time around after Stamford Bridge witnessed one of the Premier League 2018 news stories so far.

Highlights of the game

City settled from the start and dominated possession with many neutrals just sensing it was a matter of time before they broke the deadlock.

A tame shot from Raheem Sterling, on his 24th birthday, was saved by Kepa Arrizabalaga. But home pressing largely kept City at bay until just past the half-hour mark when the number one was called into action again to stop Leroy Sane from opening the scoring.

Sterling’s rebound was blocked by Antonio Rudiger, and Sane saw another effort deflected over the crossbar.

Although well on top, City were clearly missing a cutting edge with club record scorer Sergio Aguero absent for a third successive game because of muscle tightness.

Chelsea’s first-half tactical display ended perfectly for them a minute before the break when their first shot on target resulted in the opening goal.

A precision long ball from David Luiz found Eden Hazard, and the Belgian superstar held the ball up intelligently before slipping it to the advancing N’Golo Kante who rifled past Ederson.

That goal would have shaken City, and Chelsea came out with added vigour at the start of the second half as Ederson tipped away a dangerous Willian free-kick before holding another shot from the often-underappreciated Brazilian.

David Silva had to leave the pitch due to injury which, with no Aguero or Kevin De Bruyne, further disrupted City’s rhythm. As the clock ticked away, so seemed City’s belief, too.

David Luiz scores the second goal for Chelsea in the Premier League match against Manchester City

David Luiz celebrates their victory against Manchester City

Twelve minutes from time Luiz beat Silva’s replacement Ilkay Gundogan to reach Hazard’s corner first and glance the ball inside the far post.

Chelsea were home and hosed after Sarri got his tactics spot-on. This was the first time this season that City have had fewer shots on target than their opponents.

A wonderful day for Maurizio Sarri and City’s unbeaten run was over.

This was their first league defeat since April against their city rivals (21 games ago). This also ended their 14-match away unbeaten run – they have never gone 15 without defeat in the top flight.

A team managed by Sarri last lost consecutive league matches in October 2016, when Napoli were beaten by Atalanta and Roma.

After their midweek setback at Wolves, this was the perfect riposte as Chelsea again showed why they are a different proposition at home.

The title race is more alive than what many first thought.

Key statistics

Chelsea have lost only four of their 22 Premier League home matches against Manchester City, but two of those defeats have come in the last four seasons.

Guardiola has now lost three league games against Chelsea as a manager; more often than against any other opponent.

Chelsea are unbeaten in all nine home league fixtures this season.

They have not lost a Premier League home game against the reigning champions in 12 attempts since being defeated by Manchester United in 2002 (won six, drawn six).

Chelsea did not have one Englishman in their starting line-up. They did have one after 65 minutes when Ross Barkley replaced the injured Mateo Kovacic and Ruben Loftus-Cheek later replaced Willian.

Since the beginning of last season, Pep Guardiola’s side has earned 34 points out of a possible 45 against the other established top-six teams.

This defeat meant City have only equalled, not bettered, a record set by Portsmouth from December 1950 to December 1951 when they became the first club based outside London to win six consecutive top-flight fixtures in the capital.

Top of Form

What’s next?

It’s back-to-back away games for Chelsea next as they meet Vidi in the Europa League and then Brighton in the Premier League.

It’s then back to Stamford Bridge for a League Cup quarter-final tie at home to Bournemouth.

Man City have two home games on the bounce. They conclude their Champions League group stage by facing Hoffenheim and then host Everton in the Premier League. They then travel to Leicester City in the last eight of the League Cup.

 

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