N'Golo Kante, Cesar Azpilicueta star for Chelsea in statement victory against Manchester City
LONDON -- Manchester City were handed their first Premier League defeat of the season at Stamford Bridge as goals in each half from N'Golo Kante and David Luiz gave Maurizio Sarri a timely statement victory after a poor recent run of form -- as well as a much-needed vindication of his philosophy.
Chelsea showed great resilience to weather the early storm of City's suffocating pressing, took their chances when they arrived and, once ahead, played with the courage and identity that Sarri has been preaching from day one. This was a great performance against arguably the best team in the world.
There was a healthy slice of fortune as Chelsea survived an opening 45 minutes in which they were thoroughly outclassed, and the fact that they led at the break was comical. In a broader context, you have to wonder where missing out on the match day squad entirely leaves Alvaro Morata's future at Stamford Bridge.
Manager rating out of 10
9 -- Sarri's decision to deploy Eden Hazard as a false nine looked like folly in the opening stages, but it made Chelsea more defensively solid and the Belgian still managed to exert a decisive influence. This felt like a huge moment for the Italian, who would have been questioned like never before if City had run out of Stamford Bridge as big winners.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Kepa Arrizabalaga, 7 -- Solid rather than spectacular, as has been the theme of his Chelsea career so far, but he earned his clean sheet. An outstretched hand prevented Sane from squaring the ball in the first half, and he flew to his right to parry a Gabriel Jesus shot wide late on.
DF Cesar Azpilicueta, 9 -- Had arguably the toughest individual assignment on the pitch up against Leroy Sane, but held his own superbly until the lightning-quick Germany international was substituted. Raheem Sterling got little more change out of him. A captain's performance.
DF Antonio Rudiger, 8 -- Defended with his usual relentless intensity and aggression, while managing not to give away needless fouls. Also showcased his underrated ability on the ball as Chelsea avoided gifting too many chances to City's relentless high press.
DF David Luiz, 9 -- Against a team that punishes every mistake he was brave on the ball and defended brilliantly, making several last-ditch interventions with his team in survival mode in the first half. Also rose highest to glance a towering header off the crossbar and seal Chelsea's win.
DF Marcos Alonso, 5 -- Had such difficulty dealing with Sterling that it was a surprise when Pep Guardiola switched the England international away from the right flank. The height that Sarri values so much was useful at times as Chelsea defended, but this was another difficult night for him.
MF Mateo Kovacic, 7 -- Did as well as could reasonably be expected against City's suffocating midfield pressure, though he could not provide anything in the way of service to Chelsea's front three. Replaced by Ross Barkley when a muscle injury left him unable to continue in the 65th minute.
MF Jorginho, 7 -- Settled down after two bad mistakes early on created two big chances for City, picking his passes with no more than one or two touches and doing a progressively better job of winning the ball back as the game wore on. Also made a great foul with Kovacic down injured and City on the attack.
MF N'Golo Kante, 9 -- His best game yet in the more advanced midfield role that has proved so divisive. His destructive qualities made him a disruptive influence on City's attacking influence, while his drives forward were purposeful and incisive. Oh, and he scored a goal Frank Lampard would have been proud of.
FW Pedro Rodriguez, 7 -- Played a key part in the goal with an excellent cross-field ball to Willian and his directness panicked City in transition all night. His defensive work rate also ensured that Willian, rather than he, was the winger substituted when Ruben Loftus-Cheek entered the fray.
FW Eden Hazard, 8 -- Starting as a false nine for the first time under Sarri, City's pressing ensured he wasn't much of a factor in open play -- though he still managed to assist both Chelsea goals. While he never tested Ederson, his hold-up play and ability to relieve pressure by winning free kicks were vital to his team.
FW Willian, 7 -- Pressed well and tried to punish City whenever he could on the counterattack, linking well with Pedro to put them on the back foot. Wasn't happy to come off for Loftus-Cheek, but he can be satisfied with his night's work.
MF Ross Barkley, 7 -- An enforced introduction when Kovacic got injured, he brought calmness to Chelsea's midfield work, picked his passes and might have even got in on the scoring when he headed Pedro's dangerous cross wide.
FW Ruben Loftus-Cheek, N/A -- Brought on in the front three, first on the right and then on the left, his physicality gave City's full-backs something else to worry about just as they were trying to push further up to chase the game.
FW Olivier Giroud, N/A -- Brought on to stabilise Chelsea in the final minutes and give a tiring Hazard a rest, and did his job.