“It was a day where Tuchel could not overcome the tactics of Pep Guardiola”


Which team would dare to challenge the European Champions at their own den? In the Premier League, Chelsea of Thomas Tuchel are flying high and before today’s high-voltage clash against Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, the Blues were unbeatable at home and they have been winning at home with a lot of style and panache. Here comes Pep with his boys at Stamford Bridge and left the venue after painting it sky blue.

Pep – the master tactician – has studied Tuchel’s Chelsea this season in detail and the plan for Manchester City was to remain calm and composed, apply the pressing game create a zone in the half-space for his players to exploit and stay as narrow as possible at the back. It might have taken the style out of City, but in return, it brought full points and ended the brilliant run of Chelsea – especially at Stamford Bridge.

Mason Mount’s absence through injury forced Tuchel to squeeze the space in midfield by starting with N’Golo Kante alongside Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic.

It was a continuation of the plan that proved so effective during the second half against Tottenham Hotspur and there were times when it seemed that the intention of Chelsea was to catch City on the counter – urging them to inch forward before stealing possession and playing quick balls to Timo Werner and Romelu Lukaku upfront.

But Pep wanted Chelsea to play in such a manner.

Aymeric Laporte and Ruben Dias checked Werner, which ultimately isolated Lukaku – none of them were at the same wavelength. Rodri cut the supply chain to Chelsea’s forwards and that extra layer of security gave City more balance, allowing their creative talents to shine.

Bernardo Silva was an intelligent presence in the midfield and Phil Foden performed as the false nine – always there to catch the backline of the blues with an element of surprise.

The tempo was not up to the mark in the first half though – Foden who made the clearest chance, pulling left to find Jesus, swiped wide when he should have at least tested Edouard Mendy.

Rodri saw an effort from long range deflected narrowly over; Kevin De Bruyne was frustrated by Andreas Christensen when he found space on the edge of the area; Mendy punched away an inswinging corner from Foden.

After 27 minutes Guardiola held a discussion with Jesus, Silva and Kyle Walker during a break of play.

Jesus stretched his play on the right and pressed Antonio Rudiger and there were times when the forward was too tentative in possession – meanwhile, he was lacking the pace to beat the left-back Marcos Alonso. Still, Jesus did not lose focus.

On the right Silva, Walker and Kevin de Bruyne joined the party to press the Chelsea players that paid rich dividends after the break.

After 53 minutes, Joao Cancelo dropped a shoulder and fired a low shot into the area from 25 yards. Jesus collected the ball, produced some nimble footwork to make space and earned a slice of luck when his low shot took a deflection off Jorginho, leaving Mendy stranded as the ball squirted into the bottom-right corner.

It was the breakthrough that resulted from a very good pressing and the Blues needed to bounce back but they failed to break down a City unit that was enough compact.

Chelsea, who lost an attacking outlet when Cesar Azpilicueta was forced to move right wing-back after Thiago Silva replaced the injured Reece James – lost the link-up play with Mount. They improved after Kante made way for Kai Havertz, who was denied by an offside flag when he teed up Lukaku to finish.


Chelsea threw more bodies forward but it was a day where Tuchel could not overcome the tactics of Pep Guardiola.

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