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Pep Guardiola showed tactical masterclass in Manchester City’s match against Chelsea to defeat them 3-1. Although Chelsea started the game looking more promising as a result of the aggressive press through the middle that was used, Manchester City eventually gained control of the match. Chelsea started the game with a midfield trio of Kante, Kovacic, and Mount and they pressed very high up the field in the early 10 minutes of the match and won balls in the midfield to start the attack high on the pitch.
Manchester City soon found a solution for this as Kevin De Bruyne, who started as a False 9, dropped deeper to facilitate the flow of the ball in the midfield. Phil Foden was utilized to create width on the left-wing while Raheem Sterling dropped inside and played between Chilwell and the Chelsea central defenders. The Manchester City wing-backs, Zinchenko and Cancelo then pushed forward to close down spaces.
This meant that Chelsea was forced to play through the middle because, with the City fullbacks high up the pitch, Chelsea’s build-up was affected. However, playing through the middle was difficult for Chelsea as the midfield of Kante, Kovacic, and Mount was not suited for fast buildup and quick interchange of passes to work the ball into the wings. Thus, Chelsea found themselves choked and Manchester City was able to dominate the midfield and attack as they wanted with Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silver roaming in and around the box to create spaces and score.
Chelsea was reduced to having to rely on individual qualities especially by crosses from Ziyech which had no target man as the likes of Tammy Abraham and Olivier Giroud were on the bench. Werner could not make any difference as his poor form continued and Pulisic did not receive enough supply from the midfield due to City’s organized game plan. Guardiola identified that one of Chelsea’s biggest weakness was having to be pushed back into their box to defend as they tend to leave a lot of spaces within the lines. The City players exploited this weakness and it paid off for them.
Chelsea being forced to attack only from set-pieces conceded the third goal in a desperate attempt to throw bodies into the box. Ziyech attempted a cross which was intercepted and that began a quick counterattack which was eventually finished by Kevin De Bruyne. Manchester City had more chances to score in the first half and continued the second half dominating.
Chelsea eventually scored a late consolation from Callum Hudson-Odoi as Frank Lampard’s late subs managed to have some impact. Lampard brought on Gilmour, Havertz, and Hudson-Odoi and this meant Chelsea managed to play through the middle through players like Gilmour and Havertz which led to a consolation goal from Hudson-Odoi. However, It was too late as Manchester City had already settled the match.