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Manchester City 1-0 Chelsea: Three talking points from the Etihad

Jake Jackman

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Manchester City
Photo: Getty Images

Manchester City managed to beat Chelsea for the second time this season as they continue their march to the Premier League title. The contest was far from entertaining, as the visitors showed no interest in playing football and instead to soak in pressure.

Pep Guardiola’s team didn’t have to get out of second gear and it was a more comfortable victory than they would have been expecting. The Citizens are now 18 points clear at the top of the table and remain on target for 100 points, which would be a superb achievement.

Meanwhile, Chelsea sit outside of the Champions League places and are now five points behind Tottenham in fourth position. They will need a near perfect end to the season if they are to avoid missing out on qualification for next season’s competition. Here are three talking points from the Etihad Stadium…

(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

David Silva showed his class

The 32-year-old has been at Manchester City for the majority of their journey from Premier League also-rans to elite super club and he remains a crucial player for them under Pep Guardiola.

If he had been in the team for the entire campaign, he would be running Kevin de Bruyne close for the PFA Player of the Year award. He is a classy operator who seems to get better with age.

He got the important assist for the winning goal with a superb piece of play and that is becoming par for the course for the Spanish international. Silva completed 95% of his passes and made three key passes during the contest. Meanwhile, he was very good out of possession as he made three ball recoveries.

It has been incredible to watch Pep Guardiola get all of his attacking talent on the pitch at one time, but the improvement of both Silva and De Bruyne off the ball has helped achieve that.

They are now complete midfielders and capable of thriving in both halves of the pitch. The midfielder is a club legend and supporters will be hoping that he has a few years left in him.

(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Antonio Conte continues to make puzzling decisions

Last season, the Italian was lauded every week as his side won the league title comfortably, but he has failed to follow it up with a good second campaign. There have been a lot of problems for Chelsea this season including recruitment, tactics and player performance.

They have been reliant on Eden Hazard and as the campaign has progressed, the team have lost their intensity, which suggests they no longer believe in Conte.

 

Their 3-4-2-1 formation was revolutionary, but they have moved away from it frequently this season and haven’t been able to settle on a first eleven. That was one of Chelsea’s strengths last season. Gary Cahill and David Luiz have been sidelined, while Alvaro Morata has failed to replace Diego Costa sufficiently.

On Sunday, Conte chose to field Hazard as a lone frontman, but he struggled to impact the game in that role. He is best when having space in front of him to run into and he didn’t have that against Manchester City.

The Belgian international was isolated and touched the ball only 31 times. It was a tactical error and one that blunted Chelsea’s attack before a ball was kicked.

(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Ilkay Gundogan is flourishing in the middle of the park for Manchester City

The former Borussia Dortmund midfielder has had his problems since arriving in the Premier League.

He has suffered a few injuries and that has seen him struggle to secure a regular starting berth, but he has featured prominently in recent weeks and is perfect for the system. Gundogen recycles possession effectively and that is required, especially when the opposition team sits deep.

 

Gundogen touched the ball more than any other player on the pitch with 181 touches and was very good at distributing the ball quickly. He finished the match with a 96% pass success rate, which shows his role.

He wasn’t taking any risks and he didn’t have to. City have a lot of attacking talent and the German international isn’t required to try risky passes to influence the game.

Although Chelsea didn’t get on the ball much, Gundogen broke up the play when required with four ball recoveries. Fernandinho’s absence could allow the 27-year-old to secure the place on a permanent basis and he does offer more in the role, especially in possession. It was a strong performance and one of the standouts in a dull affair.

Jake is a journalist based in the South East. He is a Newcastle United fan and has a keen interest in Dutch football. Jake can be found on Twitter here - @jakejackmann.

Cardiff City

Premier League Team of the Week II: Featuring Manchester City and Chelsea favourites

Who made The Boot Room’s Team of the Week for Game Week Two?

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The Premier League action continued with a flurry in Game Week Two as Manchester City stole the headlines, reclaiming their spot at the top of the Premier League table with a 6-1 thumping of Huddersfield Town.

The weekend also saw wins for Chelsea, who made it two victories from two, and Leicester City, despite being reduced to 10-men, while Cardiff emerged from the early kick-off on Saturday with a point after a 96th minute penalty save to ensure a goalless draw.

Following the weekend’s fixtures, The Boot Room picks its six-a-side Team of the Week.

(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Cardiff City goalkeeper Neil Etheridge claims his place between the sticks after his heroics against Newcastle United. After a string of first half saves to deny Rafa Benitez’s side, he then saved brilliantly from Kenedy’s penalty to ensure the Bluebirds secured a point. This is the second time in as many weeks that the Filipino ‘number 1’ has denied an opponent from the spot, following his success against Bournemouth‘s Callum Wilson in Game Week 1. Newcastle marked a well-deserved clean sheet for 28-year-old, who is quickly proving his worth to Neil Warnock’s promoted side.

(Photo by Manchester City FC/Man City via Getty Images)

In defence, Manchester City’s Benjamin Mendy features after his influential display against Huddersfield. Not willing to allow his attacking teammates to claim all of the plaudits, the Frenchman’s marauding performance down the left flank proved a thorn in his opponent’s side from start to finish. So prolific was he, down the left hand side of the pitch, that he picked up two assists and could have had several more, such was his involvement in the final third. While this wasn’t a display of text book defending, his contribution cannot go unrecognised.

Under Maurizio Sarri, Chelsea’s Marcos Alonso has been required to play a more disciplined role than the Spaniard is typically used to. Nonetheless, while he is continuing to adapt to playing in a back four, and looking a little exposed defensively at times, his attacking instinct have shown no signs of letting up. The Spaniard showed good awareness to pick out Pedro for Chelsea’s opening goal against London rivals Arsenal, before showing composure to score the winner with the score tied at 2-2.

(Photo by Manchester City FC/Man City via Getty Images)

City’s David Silva has always been an absolute joy to watch and it was no different on Sunday. Making his 250th Premier League appearance – becoming the only the fourth Spaniard to reach said milestone – the 32-year-old ran the show from a central midfield position. Providing a match-best six key passes for his Manchester City teammates, Silva also had the chance to enjoy his own moment in front of goal, firing in a superb free-kick which beat the opposition ‘keeper at his far post.

(Photo by Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Getty Images)

Leicester City’s James Maddison looks as though he has played in the Premier League throughout his entire career. The 21-year-old, former Norwich City man has fitted seamlessly into Claude Puel’s side and already looks a player worthy of building a team around. In his favoured ‘number 10’ role he grabbed his first top flight goal against Wolves on Saturday, while weighing in with an all-action performance to ensure the 10-man Foxes didn’t let slip their two-goal lead.

(Photo by Manchester City FC/Man City via Getty Images)

City’s hat-trick hero, Argentine striker Sergio Aguero was a shoe-in for the Team of the Week after his display against the Terriers. The 30-year-old looks hungrier for goals than ever under Pep Guardiola and he repaid his manager’s decision to pair him alongside Gabriel Jesus with a clinical performance. City have only played three games this season and, already, Aguero has five goals to his name. After long-awaited knee surgery at the end of last season, he could be set for a remarkable, record-breaking season.

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Chelsea

Three key takeaways from Crystal Palace’s transfer window

The summer transfer window drew to a close on Thursday.

Max Cohen

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Palace
Photo: Getty Images

Crystal Palace finished deadline day with the last-minute confirmation of the loan signing of Jordan Ayew from Swansea City. The Eagles finished the window with four total signings, but only spent a total of £9.5 million.

The south Londoners made do with a tight budget and held on to their crown jewel Wilfried Zaha, resulting in a successful summer. Here are three things we learnt from Palace’s transfer business.

Don’t believe the tabloid hype

The Wilfried Zaha saga was perhaps the most drawn out transfer rumour of the entire window, and as many Palace supporters had expected, it was completely unfounded.

Despite the numerous claims that Zaha had rejected a contract, was eager to leave to a supposedly bigger club, or was itching to play Champions League football, the Ivory Coast international remained at Selhurst Park.

The winger still has four years left on his contract, has spoken publicly about his love for the club, and will again be crucial to Crystal Palace’s success this season. Still an Eagle, Zaha’s status reveals the sensationalist nature of many tabloids that aim to create unrest when none is present.

(Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

Doing business on a budget is difficult, but not impossible 

According to The Guardian, Palace’s transfer budget was restricted due to the high wages being paid to star players such as Mamadou Sahko and Christian Benteke. Yet, in the face of these barriers, the club managed to secure a number of canny deals at a low cost.

Ayew was brought in on loan, goalkeeper Vicente Guaita and midfielder Max Meyer were free transfers, and Cheikhou Kouyate was the only purchase of the summer at £9.5 million.

Four players of top quality for less than £10 million represents astute business, and Palace should be applauded for conducting decent deals on a shoestring budget.

(Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images)

Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s absence will be felt thanks to Chelsea‘s terrible transfer policy

Crystal Palace made it no secret that they were eager to bring Ruben Loftus-Cheek back to SE25 this summer, but unfortunately for both the club and player, Chelsea refused to let him leave.

On the face of it, it was an encouraging decision for Loftus-Cheek, as he would be finally handed consistent football at his parent club. Yet the loan signing of Mateo Kovacic from Real Madrid further pushes the England international down the pecking order at Stamford Bridge, leaving many to wonder why Chelsea barred him from a return to Crystal Palace.

In the end, the Eagles will miss his presence in midfield and will undoubtedly be frustrated to watch Loftus-Cheek wasting away on the Chelsea bench.

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Chelsea

One to watch: Derby County’s 19-year-old midfielder Mason Mount

Introducing The Boot Room’s 2018/19 One to Watch series…

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Mason Mount
Photo: Getty Images

Mason Mount has arrived on loan at Derby County as a well-known quantity.

The Englishman spent a number of successful years in Chelsea’s youth academy, featuring under the Rams’ new assistant coach Jody Morris.

As a Blue, his progress has also been closely monitored by Derby’s new manager Frank Lampard, who was keen to bring Mount on loan after his stunning season in the Eredivisie with Vitesse.

Play Style

“He’s creative, plays from central midfield in an attacking sense, scores, and creates goals,” Lampard said after the announcement that Mount would be joining Derby on loan this season.

These characteristics will be important for Derby who will once again be chasing promotion this season.

Mount is a dynamic threat in an attacking midfield role.

His ability to make correct decisions in attacking transition phases should prove crucial in unlocking the potential of the array of forward-thinking talent Lampard has at his disposal.

(Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

The 19-year-old is always looking to take risks to advance the ball and play attackers in behind the defence.

Similarly, he ensures routinely accurate delivery from set-pieces and is capable of scoring from dead ball situations himself.

Depending on the formation Lampard will look to play at Derby, Mount could also be suited to play as a number eight – his ball-carrying quality is another one of his strongpoints that would be particularly useful in such a role.

Season Ahead

The 19-year-old has already proven his capabilities at senior level, but the Championship provides him with another chance to showcase his qualities to his parent club in a league with a different dynamic.

In saying this, Mount’s game should translate well to English football as it is not overly predicated on any particular style of football, nor is he reliant on a system being shaped around him. He is dynamic.

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