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A resurgent and spirited Chelsea give Manchester City a run for their money

Chelsea Football Club, Stamford Bridge

Chelsea played out a thrilling 4-4 draw with Manchester City at Stamford Bridge in a Premier League match last Sunday, Nov. 12. The Cityzens took the lead thrice, but the Blues managed to equalize on each occasion to earn a creditable draw. 

Thiago Silva, Raheem Sterling, Nicolas Jackson and Cole Palmer scored for Chelsea, while Erling Haaland scored a brace and Manuel Akanji and Rodri also scored one each for Manchester City. 

City remain at the top of the league table with 28 points from 12 matches, while Chelsea are 10th with 16 from 12. This was the first time a team under Pep Guardiola’s tutelage has scored and conceded four goals each in a match. 

Chelsea’s ability to win the ball back in the middle third was eye-catching

Chelsea started the match with great intensity, refusing to get bogged down by Manchester City’s quality and reputation. They dominated ball-possession for the initial 10 minutes or so. Even after that, as City slowly started having the ball under their control, Mauricio Pochettino’s side impressed with their ability to win the ball back in the middle third. 

Their quick passing while breaking on counter was also immaculate most of the times, as Sterling played like a man out there with a point to prove after he was left out of England’s squad for the European qualifiers this weekend and next week.

His darting runs through the inside channels kept the Manchester City defenders on their toes. He also proved to be fast enough to get ahead of Kyle Walker to tap in to score the Blues’ second goal. Palmer also attacked through the inside-right channel frequently in the first half. Both he and Sterling always looked to play the forward pass to Jackson.

Moises Caicedo and Enzo Fernandez started as the double pivot in Chelsea’s 4-2-3-1 and also helped them retain the ball in the middle third. Pochettino substituted Fernandez with Mykhailo Mudryk in the second half, as Conor Gallagher dropped down to play as a defensive midfielder and Palmer started playing as a No. 10.   

Manchester City still proved their quality, but had to toil for a point

City attacked primarily through their wings in the first half, with both Jeremy Doku and Phil Foden being particularly active. Moreover, Bernardo Silva kept switching to the left flank frequently to deliver crosses into the Chelsea penalty box.  

Both of the first two goals scored by Manchester City resulted from Bernardo’s crosses from the left. Bernardo and Doku enjoyed a great duel with Reece James on City’s left, with Palmer dropping down at times to aid the latter. 

However, the Cityzens lacked a creative influence at the centre of the pitch, with the Kevin de Bruyne being absent. Rodri attacked through the middle a few times and also scored a goal with a customary shot from the edge of the box. Their defenders also looked under considerable pressure against the pace of Chelsea’s forwards.

However, the decision to replace Doku with Jack Grealish in the second half was a questionable one. Grealish did not have much of an impact on the match, but the redoubtable Haaland yet again made his mark by scoring a brace and thereby taking his tally to 17 goals in 18 matches across all competitions this season already. 

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