So, it happened.
Chelsea suffered their first defeat of the season, and Thomas Tuchel lost to Pep Guardiola for the first time since joining the Blues.
The result will hurt, but for many, so will the manner of the defeat.
Manchester City relentlessly pressed at Stamford Bridge, and while conceding some possession might have been part of the plan, Chelsea were choked of chances.
The commentary team were bewildered by the gap between attack and midfield, and the ‘nine defenders’ Tuchel had employed but that was an oversimplification. The half time change to Mateo Kovacic, N’Golo Kante and Jorginho certainly led to a different style against Tottenham last week.
“Part of performance is to make an opponent underperform and that is what City did today,” said Tuchel after the match. “They were stronger, sharper, had more precision.
“I had a feeling we lacked belief and confidence to escape in the situations that it was possible to escape. With every mistake, we lost more confidence. This can happen. In the end, we defended our box and goal very well but we were too deep.
“Like I said, the game is so complex, you need a good performance at every level if you want to deserve a result. This was not the case today so we have to accept it and keep on going.”
Chelsea need to ensure that lack of belief does not extend beyond the 90 minutes.
The Blues may not feel invincible anymore but while some have concerns over their tactics, people should not diminish the mystique that Tuchel had developed in his decision making. The German still has an outstanding recording of making the right call at the right time.
Also, they remain one point off the top of the table and the season is only six games young.
Rio Ferdinand agrees.
“It’s a testament to him (Tuchel) that we’re expecting him to go in at half-time and perform miracles and change the direction of the match because he’s done it so often. But today that didn’t happen and it was inevitable, there was going to be a time when he didn’t get it right and he’s taken the blame there as managers do. They’ll live to fight another day.”
The start to the season has already proven that Chelsea will have opportunities this term and should have given the squad the belief they truly are in the title race.
They may have been outplayed against City, but it was only 1-0; they were in the game.
Perhaps more importantly, Manchester United lost to Aston Villa and Liverpool were held to a 3-3 draw against Brentford. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men had 28 shots without troubling the scoresheet, while the Reds twice had the lead over the Bees.
Regardless of the result yesterday, though results like that will come at some point, it’s difficult to see Chelsea conceding that many goals or not converting an opportunity from that many chances.
With the Blues and Manchester City facing off, both Liverpool and Manchester United missed an opportunity to put some early pressure on in the title race.
Jurgen Klopp’s side face City next, giving Chelsea the opportunity to put on their own pressure when they face Southampton, and to set the tone of momentum going into the international break,
Take that chance, and results could still allow for them to sit on top of the table.