Willian, Marcos Alonso fail to deliver against Manchester City
Chelsea came off second best in an intense and absorbing encounter with Premier League leaders Manchester City who won 1-0 at Stamford Bridge thanks to an outstanding goal from former Blues attacking midfielder Kevin De Bruyne. The loss of striker Alvaro Morata who limped off in the 35th minute disrupted Chelsea's flow and City became more dominant from that point on. There could be no complaints from Blues supporters leaving the Bridge, the best side won.
Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen will not face many more intimidating tests of their defensive abilities this season. Both players acquitted themselves admirably in the face of intense pressure. They certainly look to be the future of Chelsea's backline.
A huge reality check for Antonio Conte, his players and Blues supporters. Chelsea were outplayed for long periods of the game. Excellent keeping from Thibaut Courtois and some last-ditch defending from Rudiger kept the scoreline respectable.
Manager rating out of 10
6 -- Conte's decision to replace the injured Morata with Willian, while not pivotal to the outcome of the game, was detrimental to Chelsea's cause. The Brazil international has been short on form and confidence of late and offered little in the way of creativity. The Blues won't face many sides with the attacking prowess of City this season, but when they do the Italian will need to be better prepared than he was this evening. Thinking time then for the Italian during the international break. Fortunately, it's what Conte does best.
Player ratings (1-10, 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Thibaut Courtois, 8 -- Excellent first half saves on David Silva and Fernandinho kept marauding City at bay in the first half. Had no chance with De Bruyne's winner and the Belgium international will no doubt remind his countryman about it during the forthcoming World Cup qualifiers.
DF Antonio Rudiger, 8 -- A phenomenal goal-line block late on which prevented a certain goal for Gabriel Jesus capped a fine performance from the German international. Like Christensen, was unfazed by the tempo and quality of the City attack and made several important blocks and tackles to keep his side in the game.
DF Andreas Christensen, 7 -- A character-forming game for the 21-year-old who once again took the place of the still suspended David Luiz in the middle of Chelsea's centre-back three. Did a good job of keeping tabs of City striker Jesus and remained composed under the intense pressure the visitors put the Blues backline under for much of the game.
DF Gary Cahill, 6 -- Leadership qualities to the fore for Cahill, but the Chelsea skipper was always struggling against the pace of Raheem Sterling and craft of De Bruyne.
MF Cesar Azpilicueta, 6 -- Deployed at right wing-back at the expense of Victor Moses. Going forward, Azpilicueta linked up well with Morata and saw Ederson save a goalbound shot. After the striker was forced off he had his work cut out for him trying to contain Leroy Sane and David Silva as priorities shifted to defending. Squandering a great chance late on to lift the ball over City keeper Ederson rounded off a disappointing evening for Azpi.
MF Marcos Alonso, 5 -- Like Cahill, Alonso looked defensively limited at times as Sterling and De Bruyne dominated the left flank and constantly created problems for Chelsea. Had little opportunity to make the forward runs that have delivered much against lesser opposition.
MF N'Golo Kante, 6 -- A little jaded perhaps from his exertions midweek against Atletico Madrid, Kante lost out to Fernandinho in the battle to control midfield -- and with Sterling, Sane and Silva probing from every angle found it difficult to cope with sheer tempo of City's attacking play.
MF Tiemoue Bakayoko, 6 -- Struggled to get into the game and at times looked to be overawed by City's swarming attacking play. Withdrawn for the final phase of the game as Conte placed more emphasis on attack.
MF Cesc Fabregas, 6 -- Showed craft and guile early on, looping some decent balls forward and working well with Morata. Once his countryman left the pitch to be replaced by Willian, his creativity was stunted by not having a genuine striker running into space to feed off his creativity.
FW Eden Hazard, 6 -- Rarely got into the game as City dominated possession. Sparkled briefly on the hour mark tormenting Fernandinho enough to draw a foul which saw the City midfielder yellow-carded. Had a decent shot which brought a smart save from Ederson.
FW Alvaro Morata, 6 -- Had an early chance to give Chelsea the lead, but headed wide of the goal. Ran into space and worked well with Fabregas and Azpilicueta. Injury cut short Morata's game 10 minutes before the break and following his departure the Blues never really looked like scoring.
MF Willian, 4 -- A surprising replacement for Morata, Willian lacked the verve and inventiveness that was needed to unpick City's resolute defence.
FW Michy Batshuayi, NR -- Replaced Bakayoko in the 73rd minute, but there was to be no repeat of his midweek heroics in Madrid. Didn't get into the game.
FW Pedro, NR -- Replaced Hazard as part of a double substitution with Batshuayi. Like his teammate, Pedro failed to make an impact as the game slipped away from Chelsea.
Mark Worrall is one of ESPN FC's Chelsea bloggers. You can follow him on Twitter: @gate17marco