Man City grab defining win as Kevin De Bruyne spurns former club Chelsea
LONDON -- Three points from Stamford Bridge on Manchester City's 1-0 win over Chelsea in the Premier League.
1. City respond to United win with statement victory at Chelsea
Manchester City responded in the best possible way to Manchester United's emphatic home win against Crystal Palace by reclaiming top spot in the Premier League with a 1-0 victory away to champions Chelsea.
Kevin De Bruyne's long-range strike on 67 minutes sealed the three points for Pep Guardiola's team, who avenged last season's double loss to Chelsea by inflicting the home team's second league loss at Stamford Bridge this season.
It was a dominant performance by City, who forced three crucial saves from Chelsea keeper Thibaut Courtois before taking the lead.
But the 35th minute loss of top scorer Alvaro Morata to a hamstring injury left Chelsea having to sit deep and hit City on the break, denying Antonio Conte's team the chance to maintain their impressive recent form.
This was City's first real test of the campaign, however, and they responded magnificently.
Last season, Guardiola's team would have struggled to overcome Chelsea's stubbornness, but their perseverance and ability to keep the foot on the pedal highlighted their development under the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach.
City were simply too powerful, with too much variety in their game for a Chelsea team that had been buoyed by the midweek Champions League win against Atletico Madrid in Spain.
The visitors could have won by a greater margin, but their win moves them back ahead of United on goal difference.
It's just a pity that we will have to wait until December before the Manchester rivals face off in what promises to be the game of the season so far.
2. Chelsea pay price for offloading De Bruyne
Jose Mourinho has a lot to answer for at Chelsea -- namely allowing Kevin De Bruyne (and Romelu Lukaku) to leave Stamford Bridge during his second spell in charge.
De Bruyne was only given two Premier League starts during his brief Chelsea career, with the Belgian telling Mourinho that he wanted to move away and play regular football after growing tired of being overlooked.
To say that the Manchester City midfielder came back to haunt Chelsea on Saturday would be an understatement, with his stunning second-half goal deservedly earning a 1-0 win for Pep Guardiola's team.
But while Chelsea did pretty well without De Bruyne last season, winning the Premier League title under Antonio Conte, they would certainly have preferred to have him in their squad rather than see him bolstering City's.
It is a painful irony for Chelsea that the current top two, City and Manchester United, are being inspired by De Bruyne and Lukaku -- two players allowed to leave without really being a given a chance at the club.
And with Conte's squad lacking depth, retaining two of their brightest young talents and allowing them to grow would have been a much more sensible decision.
Chelsea's loss in terms of De Bruyne has certainly been City's gain, however. He was the outstanding player in this game, making Chelsea's N'Golo Kante and Tiemoue Bakayoko struggle in his wake.
So dominant was De Bruyne, it also raised questions as to how Chelsea may have coped better had they not let Nemanja Matic also leave for United this summer.
3. Sterling infuriates Guardiola
Pep Guardiola personally vetoed any prospect of Raheem Sterling moving to Arsenal as part of a swap deal for Alexis Sanchez on transfer deadline day, insisting there was "no chance" he would allow the winger to leave Manchester City.
But while Guardiola makes no secret of his admiration for the former Liverpool player, Sterling continues to infuriate the City manager with his decision-making in the final third.
Guardiola believes that Sterling can become one of the best attacking players in Europe, but there is no question that he wants him to become more clinical and ruthless when in and around the penalty area.
In the first half at Stamford Bridge, Guardiola reacted furiously when, after being picked out unmarked on the right, Sterling failed to find a City teammate with a cross into the penalty area.
It was a sloppy cross by Sterling, who rushed his delivery, and Guardiola made a pointed gesture at the England wide man to register his annoyance.
And moments later, after another failure to make the right pass, Guardiola summoned Sterling across to the touchline to give him a pep talk about the need to sharpen up.
Sterling has scored five league goals already this season, so he is clearly doing something right, but he continues to give the impression that he could contribute so much more.
He needs to be more measured and colder when in the final third. If he can do that, he really will be one of the best forwards in the game.
Mark Ogden is a senior football writer for ESPN FC. Follow him @MarkOgden_