Manchester City produced a ruthless attacking display to cruise past Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and increase the pressure on manager Frank Lampard.
The visitors, who were without a number of first-team players following an outbreak of coronavirus at the club, stunned Chelsea with three goals in 16 first-half minutes.
Ilkay Gundogan’s crisp low finish broke the deadlock and Phil Foden doubled City’s lead three minutes later, tucking a superb first-time strike beyond Edouard Mendy after fine work from Kevin de Bruyne.
De Bruyne deservedly got his name on the scoresheet with a close-range finish after Raheem Sterling’s curling strike had rebounded off the woodwork.
Callum Hudson-Odoi scored in second-half stoppage time for Chelsea, firing Kai Havertz’s cross beyond Premier League debutant Zack Steffen.
The result lifted City up to fifth in the table, four points off Liverpool and Manchester United with a game in hand on both.
Chelsea, who would have gone top had they beaten Everton on 12 December, drop to eighth.
Depleted City show ruthless streak
This was City’s first game in eight days following the Covid-enforced postponement of their league match with Everton on 28 December.
They were given the go-ahead to reopen their training ground this week but were without Kyle Walker, Gabriel Jesus, Ederson, Ferran Torres, Eric Garcia and Tommy Doyle against Chelsea.
Benjamin Mendy, who breached coronavirus regulations by hosting a New Year’s Eve dinner party, was one of only eight City substitutes.
After a period of early Chelsea pressure, the visitors soon stamped their authority on the game and raced into a comfortable lead with two superbly taken goals.
Gundogan finished low into the far corner after turning Thiago Silva on the edge of the area, before Foden produced a magnificent finish from De Bruyne’s pass.
De Bruyne, operating in a ‘false nine’ role, made it 3-0 before Gundogan nearly added a fourth with a deft flick from Foden’s low ball.
The chances continued to flow in the second half as Rodri’s firm header forced Mendy into an excellent one-handed save over the bar.
At the other end, City keeper Steffen was barely troubled until Hudson-Odoi’s late consolation.
No side have conceded fewer Premier League goals this season than City’s 13, but this scintillating display proves Pep Guardiola’s side have not lost any of their attacking prowess.
Plenty to ponder for Chelsea and Lampard
Lampard admitted his side were going through a “tough spell” after being frustrated by Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge on Monday.
Former striker Chris Sutton called Chelsea a “crisis club” following the 1-1 draw against Dean Smith’s side, and they have now collected only four points from six matches.
Based on this performance, that barren spell seems unlikely to end any time soon.
Chelsea made a lively start but looked bereft of confidence once Gundogan had opened the scoring.
Time and again, the hosts were sloppy in possession and could have lost by more as City unleashed wave upon wave of attacks.
Hudson-Odoi’s second league goal of the season added a modicum of respectability to the scoreline, but it did little to mask the problems facing Lampard going into two big away games – at local rivals Fulham and third-placed Leicester City.
Man City on the march – the stats
- Chelsea have suffered as many defeats in their past six league games (W1 D1 L4) as they did in the previous 23 (W14 D5 L4).
- Since their 2-0 defeat by Tottenham in November, Manchester City have won five of their seven league matches (D2), with only Manchester United (20) picking up more points than City’s 17.
- City’s Kevin de Bruyne has scored in four different Premier League games against Chelsea since leaving the club. His tally of four goals is the most against the Blues by a former player.
- Ilkay Gundogan has opened the scoring in three of City’s past four league games, netting more times than he did all last season (2 goals in 31 apps).
- Chelsea’s Timo Werner has not scored in 12 matches in all competitions, the third longest goalless run of his top-flight career – 23 in 2014 and 25 in 2014-15, both as a Stuttgart player.
‘They punished us’ – what the managers said
Chelsea boss Frank Lampard told BBC Sport: “We made mistakes, individual mistakes, and didn’t get close enough. They punished us.
“If you want to reach the top level which City have been for a few years now, you have to accept the pressures.
“The second half we competed but at 3-0 the game was pretty much done. I am not trying to talk up the last 20 minutes of the game because at 3-0 the vitals of the game have changed, but I was still looking for a reaction.
“I am not putting ourselves down. Today was painful in the first half in football terms because their level of play showed where we need to aspire to be. In the second half I saw a reaction, but the work needs to be done.”
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola told BBC Sport: “We played really well. It’s unfortunate about the last goal but the result at Stamford Bridge is fantastic. Today we were back like we were two or three seasons ago. An important win at Chelsea away.
“The Premier League is weird for everything [this season]. We just have to be focused during the games but otherwise, relax. Hopefully in the Premier League in the last six, seven games we can be there fighting.”