Chelsea 2-0 Manchester City: five talking points from Stamford Bridge

N’Golo Kanté and Raheem Sterling both looked out of position, Maurizio Sarri is fascinating to watch and Pep Guardiola’s men will maintain their inner belief

1) Chelsea’s spirit shines through

Having had their attitude and mentality questioned by Maurizio Sarri following the defeat to Wolves, this was a response from his side. There was no denying Chelsea’s collective commitment in the face of Manchester City’s relentless waves of attacks during the first half, while after the interval the hosts showed a desire to not only retain their lead but build on it, which they did thanks to David Luiz’s header on 78 minutes. The past few weeks have been difficult for Chelsea but they have been revitalised under Sarri and here provided their most notable performance, and result, of his tenure so far.

2) Sterling looks miscast on centre-stage

Eden Hazard was not the only wide forward deployed in an unfamiliar central attacking role here. Raheem Sterling was also given that assignment in light of Sergio Agüero’s absence through injury and, while he showed willing, the England international struggled to make an impact. He failed to convert a relatively easy chance after eight minutes and, after that, continually drifted wide. It was no surprise to see Pep Guardiola make a tactical change on 53 minutes, bringing Gabriel Jesus on to be City’s central attacker, and overall the Catalan may well judge that Sterling the centre‑forward does not work.

3) Kanté looks wasted even when he scores

According to Sarri, N’Golo Kanté “played close to Jorginho” in Chelsea’s midfield, as opposed to in the advanced role he has usually been deployed in under the Italian. To the naked eye that was not completely obvious. Despite his goal, this felt like another occasion when the World Cup winner’s talents were not fully optimised, during that first half. Kanté was often standing in a wide-of-centre position when surely it would have made more sense for him to be in the heart of the battle, snapping at heels.

4) You can’t take your eyes off Sarri

This match was shown on BT Sport, which meant another outing for the broadcaster’s “manager box”, the squares that appear in one corner of the screen and, as my colleague Barney Ronay has put it, provide “live and uninterrupted coverage of middle-aged men looking worried while football happens”. The box is live but not actually interrupted, which was a shame given just how watchable Sarri was once again. A man who wanders out of his technical area, burns with energy and chews on a cigarette butt, the Italian is a unique presence and of all the current Premier League managers arguably the most box-office.

5) City too good to not be thrown off course

So Manchester City are beatable after all, a fact that will be cheered nowhere louder than at Anfield. Liverpool are top of the league and, for the first time this season, we genuinely appear to have a title race on our hands. However, it would be wise for Kopites and neutral observers alike to keep their feet on the ground. A first Premier League defeat in 22 games is certainly not going to crush the inner belief of Pep Guardiola’s men and City will feel confident of overturning Liverpool’s slim lead. Indeed, things could look very different by the end of next week given that City host Everton on Saturday, while Liverpool take on Manchester United the following day, a team they have not beaten domestically since 2014.

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