Pep Guardiola made amends for his over-tinkering in the UEFA Champions League final last season by orchestrating a well-earned 1-0 victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge to show their challengers they will not relinquish their Premier League crown easily.
Gabriel Jesus’ early strike in the second-half was enough for the reigning champions to get revenge on the side that denied them their first Champions League earlier in the year. Unlike back in May, the Spanish boss did not overcomplicate his starting lineup or his tactics as the members of his squad he called on at Stamford Bridge executed their roles perfectly to earn a crucial victory against the first of their title challengers this season. He was able to deny Thomas Tuchel the chance to become the first manager to win four matches against him in a row. The City boss will have been delighted with his side’s determination to beat Chelsea’s defence, or as it is now called the Great Wall of Chelsea. What was crucial to City’s dictation of play was their constant movement which allowed them to frustrate Tuchel’s side.
As was expected ahead of the fixture, Guardiola’s side dominated the possession but Chelsea did look threatening when they did retrieve the ball. City managed to create better chances as the first-half went on but efforts from Kevin De Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus did not trouble Edouard Mendy in the Blues’ goal. Tuchel’s side were defending resolutely but they did have trouble working their way through City’s intense pressing. The visitors started the second-half on the front foot and Jack Grealish found an opening on the edge of the area and he tried to bend an effort into the far corner but couldn’t hit the target.
Quick thinking, and even quicker feet!
City broke the deadlock, which was thoroughly deserved for their performance, and it was Jesus who put them ahead with his second league goal of the season. The Brazilian did brilliantly to pick up the ball with his back to goal, surrounded by a number of Chelsea shirts and he managed to fire goalward and a deflection of Jorginho took it past Mendy. Grealish’s low effort minutes later almost doubled the lead which would have taken the game away from Chelsea if it had found the back of the net. Substitute Thiago Silva once again showed his experience and leadership for the Blues as he was on hand to clear a Jesus effort off the line to deny his compatriot his second of the game. Guardiola's men were able to hold on to their slender lead and their defence did brilliantly to thwart Chelsea when they did manage to break into the final third.
Over in Manchester for the other early kick-off in the Premier League, Manchester United were left frustrated at their missed chances as they fell to a 1-0 defeat at Old Trafford to Aston Villa. They conceded late on as Kortney Hause headed in from a corner to give Dean Smith’s side a huge three points to build on last weekend’s emphatic 3-0 victory over Everton. The result will apply more pressure onto Ole Gunnar Solskjaer following their league cup exit to West Ham United and their opening Champions League defeat away at Young Boys. The game was also the first game that Cristiano Ronaldo failed to score since his return to the club – which highlights the fact that the Red Devils cannot just rely on him to bail them out of trouble. Bruno Fernandes had the chance to spare the club’s blushes with a penalty in the dying seconds to rescue a point but he failed to capitalise.