Chelsea and Manchester City played out a Premier League classic in one of the games of the season as Stamford Bridge was treated to a 4-4 thriller on Sunday.
Manchester City did still move back to the top of the Premier League whilst Chelsea are still languishing in 10th but will take huge encouragement from their performance against the champions.
Here are the five things we learned following a stunning night at the Bridge.
More chaos involving Chelsea
This was Chelsea’s second Premier League classic in five days after that crazy 4-1 win over Spurs. Now enthralled in a 4-4 thriller with Manchester City, Mauricio Pochettino’s side are proving that they can put on a show. City opened the scoring through a dubious penalty from Erling Haaland and were then pegged back by a Thiago Silva header before Raheem Sterling netted against his former club to put Chelsea 2-1 up.
The home side’s infancy once again plagued them when they allowed an unmarked Manuel Akanji to make it 2-2 right on the stroke of half-time and more frailties were exposed when they conceded less than two minutes into the second half as Haaland grabbed his second but again City let Chelsea back into as Nicolas Jackson prodded home to make it three a piece.
Rodri then thought he’d won it for City with four minutes of normal time to play but the script wasn’t finished as another one of City’s former players came back to haunt them as Cole Palmer stroked the ball home from the spot to make it 4-4. A truly enthralling night at the Bridge.
Reece James back to his best
Chelsea fans will be mightily relieved that Reece James is not only back from injury, but his time away from the pitch seemingly hasn’t hampered his ability. James was at his usual menacing best down the right flank for Chelsea and provided two assists in the first half whilst also keeping City’s inform man Jeremy Doku quiet for most of the game. Now captain of Chelsea, his leadership qualities are crucial to such an unschooled side that are still maturing with every game.
Youthful Chelsea still ill-disciplined
With Chelsea 2-1 up and just five minutes to go until the interval, the home side dozed off on a corner and allowed an unmarked Manuel Akanji to head home to make it 2-2. Mauricio Pochettino was visibly incensed on the touchline as his side coughed up a cheap goal. It’s an all too familiar sight with this talented yet inexperienced Chelsea side, who are clearly able to ignite games but lack the know-how of when to take the sting out of them. Game management is certainly a priority for Pochettino and his group of players.
VAR at the fore once more
The officials at Stockley Park once again played a leading role in a Premier League classic when they intervened and subsequently awarded a penalty to Manchester City after Marc Cucurella was adjudged to have pulled Erling Haaland to the ground inside the area. The City striker initially started the tussle by tugging the Spaniard’s jersey to gain a few extra yards so the frustration from a Chelsea perspective was more than understandable.
VAR also chose to examine the end of the exchange between the two players and seemed to ignore the earlier phase when Haaland started the contact or where Reece James was evidently fouled. It was an unbelievably harsh decision and once again has negatively put VAR under the spotlight.
City let it slip
This City side just do not know when they are beaten. Chelsea may only have led once in this game but as we’ve become accustomed to seeing over the years, Pep Guardiola’s side are never on the turf.
Given the hectic nature of the game and the threat Chelsea posed this evening, City seemingly weren’t content with just a point and hauled themselves in front through a deflected strike from Rodri- a man who has been City’s saviour so many times before in big matches, most notably in last year’s Champions League final.
But, they will look back on this game and pin it as two points dropped given that they were ahead three times in the game. With Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur visiting the Etihad after the international break followed by an away trip to high-flying Aston Villa, a pivotal few weeks are coming up for Pep and his side.