Goals from N’Golo Kante and David Luiz condemned Manchester City to a first league defeat of the season as they fell to a 2-0 defeat to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
The result also means that Liverpool, who leapfrogged City into top spot by hammering Bournemouth 4-0 in Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off, stay at the league summit.
Despite defeat, Pep Guardiola labelled his players “fantastic” as they dominated vast periods of the game, especially the first half.
Completing over twice as many passes as Chelsea in the opening forty-five minutes, the Cityzens were the driving force in the game and should have struck first when Raheem Sterling had a great chance in the box, but somehow scuffed his shot into the ground and the ball bounced comfortably into the grateful arms of Kepa in the Chelsea goal.
If City had star striker and all-time top scorer Sergio Agüero on the field, the Argentine surely would have provided the clinical touch that the visitors clearly lacked at in South West London.
And the defending champions paid for their lack of ruthlessness just before half-time as N’Golo Kante fired high past Ederson from Eden Hazard’s pass with Chelsea’s only shot of the first half.
The Cityzens were also without the influential Kevin De Bruyne, who scored the only goal of a game in City’s 1-0 win at The Bridge last season.
Having also dominated 80 minutes of the game against Watford in midweek, Guardiola’s men faltered in the latter stages and almost threw away the three points as they appeared shaken in the dying minutes.
And the same can certainly be said in this one, too.
After the break, the reigning champions didn’t show any step up in intensity and, if anything, the quality of their performance dropped in the second half.
Unbeaten in 21 league matches since the defeat at home to Manchester United in April, City were by far second best as the match wore on and, after Kante’s brilliant opening goal, David Luiz landed the killer blow to kill off any hope of a draw that would have sent the champions back to the top of the Premier League table.
Guardiola’s men must now regroup after this majorly disappointing defeat in time for the visit of Hoffenheim at The Etihad in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday night.
City only need a point to secure top spot and, having already won the reverse fixture 2-1 in Germany, the Cityzens are expected to get the job done rather comfortably.
Then again, they were expected to win tonight, too.