Pep Guardiola felt his Manchester City were once again the better team against Chelsea, despite losing a second league game of the season to the champions elect.
The Catalan’s side were defeated 2-1, meaning they have not won in four Premier League games and now face a real challenge to finish in the top four, but he said he was encouraged by the performance.
“Absolutely,” Guardiola said when asked whether City were the better team. “But they got six points against us, and we got zero. Football is about results. But the way we played... I was happier today with the way we played compared to Arsenal [a 2-2 draw], and we got a point less.
Chelsea vs Manchester City player ratings
Chelsea vs Manchester City player ratings
1/22 Thibaut Courtois - 6
Completely at fault for Aguero's equaliser - a rare lapse in concentration. Showed his strengths moments later though to deny Sane a one-on-one chance on goal.
2/22 Cesar Azpilicueta - 6
Decision making was on point for much of the evening and kept a calm head under pressure.
3/22 Kurt Zouma - 7
A respectable return to the starting line-up. After months on the sideline he seemed to cope well with both the pace and intensity of the game.
4/22 David Luiz - 7
A fierce and fiery performance from the Brazilian. Hit hard in his challenges and dealt with Aguero well.
5/22 Gary Cahill - 6
Solid as ever in his reading of the game and challenges, both on the deck and in the air.
6/22 Marcos Alonso - 6
Handled his defensive duties well and proved effective on the front foot.
7/22 N'Golo Kante - 6
Industrious as ever with his running and positioning but one of his more quiet evenings. Conceded a sloppy foul on the edge of his own box which City nearly equalised from.
8/22 Cesc Fabregas - 6
Kept the ball moving well in the middle and was relatively effective in dictating the flow of the game.
9/22 Pedro - 7
Dealt well with his defensive responsibilities tonight and got well forward to put the City defence under pressure. Questionable touches/passes here and there but overall a good night from him.
10/22 Eden Hazard - 8
Once again, Hazard proved to be the difference. Took his first goal well from a difficult angle and reacted well in his penalty attempt to grab Chelsea's second.
11/22 Diego Costa - 6
Another mixed performance. Menaced the City backline with his physical presence but his hold-up play was found wanting at times. It ultimately fell to others to make the difference tonight.
12/22 Willy Caballero - 6
Completely misjudged Hazard’s first goal. Despite taking an unfortunate deflection off Kompany, he should have done better in dealing with the strike. To his credit, he saved Hazard’s initial penalty kick but couldn’t stop the forward from following up.
13/22 Fernandinho - 5
His reckless challenge on Pedro cost City dearly and handed the home side their second goal. Too hot-headed.
14/22 John Stones - 6
Dominated in his aerial battles but struggled to deal with Hazard’s pace and quick feet. Had a glorious chance to equalise in the second half but couldn’t find the goal.
15/22 Vincent Kompany - 5
For all his fight and heart, there was a certain sharpness missing to his game tonight. His weak positioning afforded Hazard the space for his first goal while his lack of pace saw him struggle to keep up with the tempo of the game at times.
16/22 Gael Clichy - 6
Linked up with City's forward players well and was a nuisance in getting in behind the Blues defence.
17/22 Fabian Delph - 5
A series of early, well-timed challenges boded well but he looked out of depth at times. Not a surprise given his lack of Premier League football this season.
18/22 Jesus Navas - 5
A quiet evening as a whole. Had very little say for himself.
19/22 Kevin de Bruyne - 6
Sloppy passing in the centre of park let team-mates down on occasion. Kept him self busy nonetheless and wasn’t afraid to take on his opposite men.
20/22 David Silva - 7
One of City’s more effective players - especially in the first half. His slick passing and clever link-up play kept the visitors’ midfield ticking over. Created numerous chances too and found himself well positioned to set up City’s equaliser. Couldn't find that all important equaliser though.
21/22 Leroy Sane - 6
Had the chance to put City ahead after Aguero’s equaliser in the first half. Flashed with brilliance but couldn't sustain such form throughout the night.
22/22 Sergio Aguero - 6
A classic poachers finish for City's goal. Certainly kept the Chelsea backline busy but it wasn't to be his night.
“I don't want to see the way we played against Arsenal again. The onus is on us to go for the game so we can say we did absolutely everything, working to win it. We played against a team of [Eden] Hazard, Diego Costa, Fabregas, Willian... Willian is not even in their first XI. But the way we played I'm so satisfied. I'm a lucky guy to be here with them.”
Guardiola felt City were unlucky in both games against Chelsea, pointing to chances missed, but insisted that the December 3-1 defeat at home was the true turning point in their season.
“The game at the Etihad was a key point in our season in the Premier League. We arrived there four points behind, played much better, didn't have two penalties, created chances which we didn't take, then the red cards... Then it was seven points, then 10 after Leicester... That moment in the season was so important for us in terms of the competition.
“But you cannot expect to create 20 chances against Chelsea and them not created anything. I have no regrets with the way we've played. We're doing things the right way. We have to analyse things for next season because we have to win games like this. But, for now, congratulations to Chelsea.
“Today the Premier League has gone. Now we have to think about qualifying for the Champions League and finishing in the top four.”
There was further encouragement for Guardiola in the performances of the returning Vincent Kompany and Fabian Delph, who have both struggled for fitness all season.
“They played amazing. Vincent we can't forget how he suffered in that period, in that year, and he played really well. … He would have competed with Nico (Otamendi), with Kola (Kolarov), with the other ones of course. Vincent, when he's fit, is a top central defender. But he's not been fit for two and a half years. Today was a good performance. It's not easy to defend against Diego Costa.”
Guardiola, however, refused to say Chelsea are destined to be champions.
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