Kevin de Bruyne's long-range prowess - Seven deadly stats from Chelsea 0-1 Man City

Aditya Devavrat 00:46 01/10/2017
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After the one-sided affairs that Liverpool vs Arsenal and Manchester City vs Liverpool turned out to be, Saturday night’s clash between Chelsea and City seemed like the first true title battle.

Chelsea had the chance to go level on points with their opponents and Manchester United atop the Premier League table, but it always seemed like a City win would be an even bigger statement, a message that unlike last year, this City side are genuine title contenders.

Kevin de Bruyne’s wonder strike for City thus laid down a marker, as Pep Guardiola’s side earned a hard-fought 1-0 win at the home of the champions. For all the thumpings City have been dishing out this season, this win was perhaps the most impressive, as they dominated the game, barely allowed Chelsea a sniff at a goal, and made sure to take one of their chances in order to get the win.

Here are seven deadly stats from the game…

WHO NEEDS AGUERO?

Sergio Aguero’s absence from this fixture after his car crash earlier in the week denied viewers the chance to see two of the Premier League’s leading scorers square off, but it gave Gabriel Jesus the chance to show what he can do on his own.

He was a menace to Chelsea’s defence throughout with his movement leading the line, and he linked up well with the rest of the City attack throughout the game.

At no point was this more evident than City’s goal, when the Brazilian teed up De Bruyne perfectly with an exquisite touch into the Belgian’s path.

DE BRUYNE’S LONG-RANGE PROWESS

De Bruyne is a player who has it all. The Belgian is blessed with tremendous vision on the ball, the ability to pick a perfect through ball, and overall passing range. And, to top it off, he’s got a thunderous shot. 

Seven of De Bruyne’s 14 Premier League goals for City have come from outside the box, and Saturday night’s strike was a stunner. He left compatriot Thibaut Courtois with absolutely no chance of keeping it out. 

HAZARD KEPT QUIET

While one star Belgian stole the show, another had minimal impact on the game. Much was expected of Eden Hazard, but a combination of City’s dominance in possession and Chelsea’s toothlessness in attack meant the player Alvaro Morata described as one of the three best in the world had little opportunity to show his talent.

Hazard wasn’t helped by Morata coming off with a first-half injury. The two had shown signs of developing an excellent understanding in the midweek Champions League win over Atletico Madrid but without Morata, there was no one to link up with for Hazard.

Still, it was another underwhelming performance in a crucial game – Hazard hasn’t completely shaken off criticisms that he can go missing in games such as these. He’ll have to, in order to live up to Morata’s claims.

CHELSEA ATTACK FEELING HOME BLUES

Chelsea’s failure to score against Arsenal at home two weeks ago was a shock, so what do we call failing to score in two straight home games?

City’s possession-based football left Chelsea’s attack with few opportunities of creating a goal, but that’s no excuse. More is expected of the reigning champions, especially at home, regardless of the opposition, yet the Blues’ attack was more or less invisible on Saturday.

Apart from not scoring, they managed only four shots, their fewest in any Premier League game under Conte and their fewest in a home league game since January 2015 – also against Manchester City.

CRACKS APPEARING AT STAMFORD BRIDGE FORTRESS

While the supposed crisis that had seemingly erupted after Chelsea’s opening-day 3-2 defeat at home to Burnley has undoubtedly abated, the champions’ home form is under scrutiny again after Saturday.

Last season, Chelsea suffered a 2-1 home loss to Liverpool early in their campaign, and then a shock 2-1 reverse to Crystal Palace in April – these were the only two times Chelsea dropped points at home. This season they’ve already failed to win on three separate occasions.

With City and Manchester United looking formidable at home (and away, for that matter), this sort of home form will leave it hard for Chelsea to keep the Premier League trophy at Stamford Bridge.

CITY IN SUBLIME FORM AT THE BACK AND UP FRONT

There was a theory at the start of the season that despite massive spending on defenders (albeit largely on fullbacks, plus one goalkeeper), City’s defence remained vulnerable.

The notion hasn’t been completely dismissed given the way Liverpool were running City ragged before Sadio Mane was sent off in the two sides’ fixture earlier this month, but perhaps its time to give Guardiola’s defence some credit.

City have the joint-best defensive record in the league, conceding only twice this season on the way to tallying five clean sheets at this point. Ederson hasn’t struggled in goal as many thought he might, and John Stones doesn’t look as shaky as he used to.

They’d still prefer having club captain Vincent Kompany fit for every game – who wouldn’t – but they’re coping well without one of the Premier League’s best defenders.

PEP FINALLY GETS ELUSIVE WIN

Prior to Saturday, Guardiola’s only win against Chelsea came in the European Super Cup in 2013. Guardiola was Bayern Munich manager then, while Chelsea were managed by Jose Mourinho, and even then, it took a penalty shootout for Guardiola’s side to get the win.

It’s safe to say the Spaniard will relish this victory.

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