4th of March 2018

Blues slip to a one-goal defeat at Etihad stadium (1-0)

The Blues were beaten by Manchester City at the Etihad as Bernardo Silva scored the only goal of the game early in the second half.

It was a disappointing afternoon for Antonio Conte’s side, who never really got going from an attacking perspective and struggled to create many goalscoring opportunities.

The best chance of the game, which arrived shortly after City had broken the deadlock, fell to Victor Moses who sliced his effort wide after being teed up by Cesc Fabregas and despite the late introductions of Olivier Giroud, Emerson and Alvaro Morata we were unable to seriously test Ederson in the Manchester City goal.

With N’Golo Kante unavailable due to illness, Cesc Fabregas started in midfield and further forward Pedro came in for Alvaro Morata.

Danny Drinkwater was named in the starting 11 for the second game in succession, with David Luiz, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Ethan Ampadu all missing out through injury.

It was City seeing the majority of the ball, and making most of the running, early on but the Blues were defending well as a unit and with Willian and Pedro tucking in to assist Fabregas and Drinkwater the opening 15 minutes were navigated without any serious concerns.

The home side’s first real sight of goal came following a lofted ball out from the back by Nicolas Otamendi but although Leroy Sane got there ahead of Cesar Azpilicueta, the German blasted his strike high over the bar.

Sane was then the architect of City’s next opportunity as he picked the ball up wide on the left and cut inside, bursting into the Chelsea penalty area at speed before being crowded out, with Bernardo Silva collecting the loose ball and curling a left-footed strike over the bar.

The Blues burst into life soon after on the break as Pedro switched it outside to Victor Moses, who was subsequently brought down by a poor challenge from Aleksandra Zinchenko. The advantage was played and Willian, who had got on the ball, advanced forward at pace and fizzed one across the face of goal where Otamendi was on hand to clear.

City almost took the lead with their next opportunity as Sane, who stole in at the back post to bring down a Kevin De Bruyne free-kick, saw his goal-bound strike cleared off the line by Azpilicueta, with the loose ball rolling safely into the arms of a grateful Thibaut Courtois.

The Blues were unfortunate not to have been awarded a free-kick when Willian latched on to an intelligent Fabregas pass, only to have his progress halted by a clear foul from Otamendi, and at the other end Bernardo Silva curled well wide from a good position as City broke.

Hazard looked to have been caught by Otamendi’s arm as the pair challenged for a ball in added time, but at the end of a half in which City had dominated in terms of possession, without seriously testing Courtois, it was goalless.

Having defended so well throughout the opening half, our resistance was broken less than a minute after the restart as City took the lead.

A clipped Sane ball over the top found Sergio Aguero who helped it on to David Silva and as the City captain crossed to the far post, Bernardo Silva stole in to steer the ball past Courtois.

It was a disappointing start to the second half and one which meant a response was required. It almost came from our next foray into the City half as we moved the ball well to create space, Fabregas then slipped it into the path of the advancing Moses but the Nigerian sliced his strike and it flew wide of the near post.

Courtois was then called into action as he palmed away a powerful David Silva drive which looked to be heading into the top corner.

The game continued to follow a similar path as it had for much of the first half, with the Blues defending in large numbers and looking to hit the hosts on the break. An opportunity to do so opened up when Hazard released Willian but the Brazilian’s cross, intended for Fabregas, was blocked, allowing City to clear.

While our deficit remained at just one goal, we were in the game, and with 13 minutes left on the clock we made our first change as Olivier Giroud replaced Willian.

Emerson, who was making his Premier League debut, was then introduced for Pedro a couple of minutes later as we looked to salvage something from the game, before Morata replaced Hazard for the final couple of minutes.

Alonso attempted to pick out Morata with a cross from the left-hand side in added time but Otamendi headed clear and our final opportunity of the game fell to the Spanish wing-back right at the death as he volleyed just wide from outside the penalty area.

After two consecutive Premier League defeats, next weekend's home game against Crystal Palace takes on added importance.

- Match stats:

Chelsea (3-4-3): Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Fabregas, Drinkwater, Alonso; Willian (Giroud 77), Hazard (Morata 89), Pedro (Emerson 81).

Booked Rudiger 56

Manchester City (4-3-3): Ederson; Walker, Otamendi, Laporte, Zinchenko (Danilo 86); Gundogan, D Silva (c) (Foden 90+3), De Bruyne; B Silva, Aguero (Jesus 84), Sane.

Scorer B Silva 46
Booked Zinchenko 23, Gundogan 47

Referee Michael Oliver.
Crowd 54,328

- Match report by chelseafc.com

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