Not even in his worst nightmares did Frank Lampard imagine it. The confrontation, billed as an opportunity for Chelsea to reassert their title credentials, ended in a disgraceful defeat after first half strikes by Ilkay Gundogan, Phil Foden and Kevin De Bruyne. City of Manchester It served notice of their own aspiration to move within walking distance of the top two.
To say that Chelsea have been defeated here is a serious understatement. Had it not been for some decisive second-half interference from their goalkeeper, Edward Mindy, the final result would have been even more embarrassing for Lampard, who has now seen his team just recover. Four points from the last six matches They have fallen back to their fifth league defeat this season.
However, while he must find a fix quickly as the pressure builds after he has spent more than £ 200m on new players in the summer, Pep Guardiola’s team is building some amazing momentum which means he cannot be ruled out after their third straight win. Although he lost it. A number of players due to Covid-19.
The inclusion of 35-year-old goalkeeper coach Scott Carson on the bench was evidence of the difficulties City faced before kick-off.
Benjamin Mendy was also chosen as one of only eight substitutes despite the club Promising to open an internal investigation In breach of Covid-19 regulations on New Year’s Eve, Sergio Aguero is no longer fit enough to start. Oleksandr Zinchenko and Foden have been called up, and USA goalkeeper Zach Stephen has been handed his first Premier League match after Ederson, Ferran Torres and Eric Garcia were confirmed infected with the Coronavirus.
In contrast, Lampard had no such problems and made five changes to the side that drew disappointingly against Aston Villa, with Hakim Ziyech returning from injury to start for the first time since his victory over Leeds here last month alongside Timo Werner and Christian Pulisic in an attack. It restarted. The return of Thiago Silva and Kurt Zuma to the center of the Chelsea defense was usually a welcome scene for their manager after seeing his team revert to their previous bad habits in recent weeks, but were torn apart by a resplendent first-half performance by the visitors.
Guardiola – who turns 50 after two weeks – said this week that he has reconsidered whether he will stay in management longer than he originally planned after he had already committed to extending his stay at City.
They have now only conceded three times in their last 11 games in all competitions since losing to Tottenham in November and appear to be preparing for the counterattack against rivals who used to fail to smash teams in the big matches.
Chelsea definitely started with intention, even though it was short-lived. Having easily escaped the early storm, City should have taken a lead in the 15th minute when Foden’s ball was played in De Bruyne’s accurate throughput, but he pulled his shot uncharacteristically. However, it seemed to spur the visitors, and after Raheem Sterling also tested Chelsea’s defense, Gundogan scored the opening goal without any pressure after Foden made it.
The English midfielder was once again in the midst of the action as City doubled their lead after two minutes and 37 seconds, with De Bruyne – hired as a “false nine” by his manager – giving him the pass to get around Mindy in his close position. Below the seam, Guardiola could not contain himself. His plan was reaping benefits.
Chelsea desperately tried to hit back, but after failing to muster a single shot on target during the first half hour, they were forced to shoot again when De Bruyne scored after Stirling’s breakaway attempt bounced off the post. It was the first time they had conceded a hat-trick in the first half at Stamford Bridge since against Burnley in August 2017 and Lampard left the field between halves as if he had seen a ghost.
Surprisingly, he sent the same team in the second half as Chelsea were looking to at least save some pride. Once again, it was City who took control. Mendy saved Zinchenko’s shot well and the goalkeeper had to be at his best to block Rodri’s header with a free kick from De Bruyne.
Lampard finally brought Callum Hudson-Odoi and Billy Gilmour into the fight 20 minutes into the second half, and the odd N’Golo Kanté was one of those who gave way. But even with Werner working again in attack, there was mysteriously no sign of striker Olivier Giroud as Stephen remained a spectator largely throughout the match until Hudson-Odoi’s late goal. He hardly wished for an easier introduction to Premier League.