Ready made Rudiger replacement? Five things we learned as Chelsea fall short in Manchester
Chelsea fall short in Manchester
Chelsea headed up to Manchester in more hope than expectation, but had to consign themselves to a narrow defeat against Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, and effectively surrender any chance of another Premier League title.
OH KDB! 😍 pic.twitter.com/WVtYYffFE6
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) January 15, 2022
A Kevin De Bruyne strike proved decisive in the contest, and saw Pep Guardiola’s side march on to another victory.
101 picked out 5 key talking points from the affair.
1. Chelsea need cover at left back
It is not new news to hear that Chelsea need cover at left-back, but it was nonetheless reinforced as Marcos Alonso was given a torrid afternoon against Raheem Sterling.
Raheem Sterling is looking dangerous on the wing as he keeps beating Marcos Alonso#MCICHE #MCFC #CFC
— talkSPORT (@talkSPORT) January 15, 2022
Booked early in the piece, the Spaniard could not deal with the pace and trickery of the Manchester City man, and only some poor decisions in the final third meant that his inability to deal with Sterling did not have more severe consequences.
It remains to be seen how Chelsea deal with the situation, with Emerson’s recall proving tricky. To stay competitive in all four competitions, however, they need cover, and competent cover at that.
2. Title “race” all but over
It was a long shot heading into the game in Manchester, but a victory for Chelsea, combined with Liverpool winning both of their games in hand, would have cut the deficit to just 5 points, and given the Premier League a true title race.
The tightest 3 horse title race we’ve had in living memory has very quickly become nothing of the sort. @ManCity charging ahead to win by a distance.
— Gary Lineker 💙 (@GaryLineker) January 15, 2022
Now, however, it seems a longshot, if not impossible. The result leaves Chelsea 13 points adrift, and Liverpool 14 behind, with just 16 games left to play this season.
It remains to be seen if Chelsea can cling to Liverpool’s coattails
3. The Lukaku conundrum continues
Cristiano Ronaldo, Harry Kane, Romelu Lukaku. A list of names that are both top strikers but also that don’t really fit the way that their side seem to want to play.
In Chelsea’s case, it is Lukaku that is most concerning, with the Belgian’s strong suits seemingly at odds with what Thomas Tuchel wants his striker to do. And, after the interview given by the Belgian, he is unlikely to have too many sympathisers at Stamford Bridge.
I am once again asking why a manager is primarily asking Romelu Lukaku to hold the ball up for others in a big game.
— 🇬🇭 Carl Anka 🇬🇭 (@Ankaman616) January 15, 2022
Nevertheless, it is a conundrum that Chelsea desperately need to solve: five goals for their record season in the opening half of the season is simply not what they thought they were paying for, and he had next to no influence on the game at the Etihad this afternoon.
Getting the forward service should be priority number one for the Blues, as they desperately look to recover the imperious form they showed at the start of the season.
4. Kepa continues to impress
Despite a couple of nervy moments, including shinning a clearance into his teammate and out for a corner, Kepa proved an able deputy for Edouard Mendy at the Etihad.
In the zone! ⛔️
How’s everyone feeling about #MciChe? 💬 pic.twitter.com/hiMf1QJA9e
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) January 15, 2022
While he could perhaps have done more to keep De Bruyne out from distance, it was nonetheless a competent performance from a goalkeeper that had been written off by many both in and outside of Chelsea.
With Mendy away for the rest of the month, is there a chance Kepa can stake a claim to be no.1 under Tuchel again?
5. Ready made Rudiger replacement?
It seems as though Antonio Rudiger’s time at Chelsea is coming to an end, with the German having just 6 months to run on his contract at Stamford Bridge.
But, in Malang Sarr, Chelsea may already have a replacement.
🇫🇷 Malang Sarr in first 45 minutes against Man City:
🧠 36 Touches
👟 23 Passes
🎯 2 Accurate Long Balls
💪 100% Ground Duels
🛑 2 Tackles
🚀 2 Clearances
✋ 1 Interception
Impressive again. 🪨 pic.twitter.com/qQrUhoqdIu
— Mozo Football (@MozoFootball) January 15, 2022
The French defender, signed two seasons ago from Nice, impressed once more in defence and proved he is more than able of hanging with the big boys in the Premier League, slotting into the system without a hitch.
With the likes of Jules Kounde and Nicolas Sule linked with moves to the club this summer, is the replacement already at the club?