LONDON — Each group with title aspirations wants a dependable No. 9 to ship within the largest video games, and Saturday’s conflict between Champions League winners Chelsea and Premier League champions Manchester City was settled by one in every of them. It simply occurred to be the man who has spent all summer time listening to his group wants a brand new striker relatively than the £97.5m club-record signing who scored the clincher as City won 1-0 at Stamford Bridge.
This was a day when Pep Guardiola and his gamers reminded everybody that Metropolis stay the group to beat within the Premier League, however it was additionally an event when Gabriel Jesus confirmed that he can nonetheless be the person to attain the targets to ship extra success on the Etihad.
And if we’re speaking about reminders, Romelu Lukaku’s underwhelming efficiency up entrance for Chelsea additionally highlighted how the previous Everton and Manchester United ahead nonetheless has all of it to show when up in opposition to the highest groups and finest defences.
It was Jesus who carried out like the entire centre-forward on this sport, not Lukaku, and that was all of the extra stunning contemplating that the Metropolis striker was not even chosen to play in his favoured place by supervisor Guardiola. Jesus spent all however the ultimate eight minutes of this sport working on the large proper of a entrance three, with midfielder Phil Foden deployed as a false 9 via the center, however the Brazil worldwide was a livewire from begin to end, urgent the Chelsea defenders all through and taking a bodily battering from Antonio Rudiger.
His purpose — a close-range shot deflected off Jorginho within the 53rd minute — was a reward for his effort and talent to shrug off the frustration of getting to play out of place for a lot of the sport. It was additionally sufficient to consign Chelsea to their first defeat of the season and finish Thomas Tuchel’s three-game profitable streak over Metropolis since changing Frank Lampard as supervisor in January.
“Gabriel is all the time giving all the pieces,” Guardiola stated. “You can’t say something to him. Each single sport, he runs for his teammates in each single actions. A majority of these gamers make me comfortable.”
It’s within the high-pressure video games that you simply be taught most about groups, and each Tuchel and Guardiola may have come away from this conflict armed with new information about their attacking play. Tuchel, for instance, could have already got realised that his group wants higher selection going ahead if they’re to win the Premier League this season, as this defeat supplied affirmation of that.
Lukaku’s summer time arrival from Inter Milan was designed to provide Chelsea the leading edge that they lacked final yr, when Timo Werner didn’t measure up as a constant scorer following his £47.6m arrival from RB Leipzig, however as he did in opposition to Liverpool final month, Lukaku didn’t threaten in opposition to Metropolis. The 28-year-old has actually given Chelsea a focus up entrance and his hold-up play has significantly improved throughout his two years in Serie A, however his motion continues to be predictable and he nonetheless does not do sufficient to go looking for the ball when his group struggles to ship it to him.
Maybe Chelsea wanted the creativity of Kai Havertz from the beginning of this sport, relatively than as a 60th-minute substitute, to get the perfect from Lukaku, however after failing to impress in opposition to Liverpool, Lukaku has now executed the identical in opposition to Metropolis and, sooner or later, he has to supply a risk in these video games if Chelsea are to win the title. If he can add the work price and motion of a Robert Lewandowski, Harry Kane or Edinson Cavani, Lukaku will make Chelsea formidable, however proper now, he’s making life far too simple for the top-class defenders he’s dealing with.
Metropolis ahead Jesus is a unique participant to Lukaku, however he’s a centre-forward nonetheless. That he has not been trusted by Guardiola to fill the void left by Sergio Aguero’s summer time transfer to Barcelona highlights the supervisor’s lack of religion within the 24-year-old. Metropolis’s failed pursuit of Kane may have executed little to spice up Jesus’s confidence both. However whereas he isn’t regarded by Metropolis as the answer to their seek for a world-class centre-forward, Jesus’ qualities allow Guardiola to play with a entrance three within the absence of a Kane or Lewandowski.
Jesus stretches defences and selflessly soaks up bodily challenges to carry the ball up for his advancing teammates. And he may even go on the lookout for the ball or make the runs that create area for the likes of Foden, Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva and others to assault groups.
“Generally we consider we’d like a correct striker to complete, however the vital factor is the best way we play,” Guardiola stated. “Crucial factor is doing it as a group and as a unit. It is like final season. Sergio [Aguero] was injured all yr and we received the Premier League.”
Jesus could by no means play via the center once more beneath Guardiola, however he can nonetheless be an asset and he confirmed that in opposition to Chelsea, who carried nearly no risk till the closing phases. Regardless of their late flurry, Chelsea ended the sport with out registering one shot on course.
Sure, they’d began the season effectively previous to this defeat, however Chelsea nonetheless do not possess the number of Metropolis and Liverpool when going ahead. Early-season hype has steered that they’re favourites for the title, however this was a much-needed actuality verify. As for Metropolis, they nonetheless want a centre-forward, however they do not lack gamers able to scoring to win massive video games.
Chelsea nonetheless have to show they’ve that of their locker.