Azpilicueta focused on moving forward

It is a similar story with the league table, after that loss left us trailing City by 13 points at the top of the table, as Azpilicueta insists our focus needs to be purely on our own performances and getting back to our best, trusting that the results and points will follow if we can achieve that.

‘After this game it is more difficult than before the game. We were 10 points behind, it could have come down to seven, and even then there still would have been a gap in between, but we lost so of course when you are 13 points behind it is very difficult.

‘You cannot focus on that. You need to get the consistency back of winning games, of being solid, of scoring goals, if we want to get our rhythm.

‘That’s the first thing, get back to winning ways on Tuesday when we have a tough game against Brighton, away again. We have a busy schedule, we don’t stop, so we have to recover well and go for it.’

The Debrief: Compact defence foils Man City forwards, but it’s not enough in narrow defeat

It nearly paid off, especially in the second half, with three of our four shots coming inside to first five minutes after half-time, including the closest we came to scoring. If Ederson hadn’t managed to palm away Romelu Lukaku’s effort with a great save right at the start of the second half, it would have been 1-0 to Chelsea and a very different 45 minutes that followed. In contrast, our opponents didn’t manage an attempt at goal in the opening 10 minutes of either half.

Denying opportunities

Manchester City’s plan was clear, using a trio of quick, skilful attackers to try and break our defensive line and open up spaces in the penalty area. Phil Foden operated in a free role, trying to tempt our centre-backs to follow him into deep positions to expose gaps for Jack Grealish and Raheem Sterling to attack from the channels.

Thankfully Thiago Silva was far too experienced and disciplined to fall for that trap, holding his ground and organising those around him to keep our defensive wall intact, while passing Foden off to our midfield when he strayed too far, resulting in N’Golo Kante playing much closer to our defensive line than usual to prevent any space forming in that area for Foden to exploit.

Catching up with Millie Bright!

On the return from the Christmas break, Bright, who helped the Blues keep 25 clean sheets in all competitions last season, tells us how training has been so far in the New Year.

‘It’s been exciting, everyone’s looking fit and really sharp out there. We’ve had some excellent training sessions and everyone’s super excited to get back out there doing what we do best.’

The defender also told us how she has started putting plans in place for life after football.

‘We forget that at some point our careers are going to end, as much as we don’t want it to,” the 28-year-old explained.

‘For me I think this year is just to be more creative off the pitch, putting things in place ready for life after football. I’m not going to say too much too soon but there’s a lot of work going on in the background to kickstart something away from football.’

Tuchel explains where his side did not match up to Man City

The Blues are now 13 points behind City having repeated the result against them back in September at Stamford Bridge. Against tough opponents, it was the attacking rather than defending that disappointed our head coach.

‘We lost due to one individual performance in one situation today,’ said Tuchel as he began his analysis, alluding to the quality of the De Bruyne strike.

‘In terms of attitude, commitment, defensive-wise I’m happy we did not allow too many big chances. We kept Man City to a minimum of big chances, we kept them to a minimum of really dangerous deliveries.

‘We were aware, active and always aggressive and compact in defending. In the first half we had big counter-attacking chances, big offensive transition chances that we really wasted. In the second half we won ball possession so the reaction after the goal was also very good. We had chances, half-chances, deliveries to equalise.

Lewis Baker to join Stoke City

Arguably Baker’s most successful loan was in the Eredivisie with Vitesse Arnhem, where he spent two seasons and caught the eye with midfield control and a penchant for a spectacular set-piece, which he could deliver with either foot. In his final game for the club in April 2017, he helped them secure the KNVB Cup for the first time in their history.

Further Championship spells with Middlesbrough, Leeds United and Reading followed, though he was unable to secure promotion to the Premier League and joined Bundesliga side Fortuna Dusseldorf in the summer of 2019, where he made seven league appearances.

Baker’s most recent loan spell was in Turkey with Trabzonspor as he linked up with former Blues player and coach Eddie Newton, who he had worked closely with in the loans programme at Chelsea. Although Newton departed during the campaign, Baker was a regular in the side with 36 appearances and two goals in 2020/21 before his premature return to Cobham amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Baker will now move to Staffordshire on a permanent deal, with the side currently pushing for a place in the Championship play-offs. We wish Lewis well for the future and thank him for his contributions at Chelsea.

Match Report: Manchester City 1 Chelsea 0

What’s next?

The games continue to come around quickly for the Blues, with a Tuesday night trip to the south coast to face Brighton in the Premier League next on the agenda.

The game at the Amex Stadium gets underway at 8pm UK time.

Chelsea: Kepa; Azpilicueta (c), Thiago Silva, Rudiger, Sarr, Alonso (Mount 81); Kante, Kovacic; Ziyech (Hudson-Odoi 69), Pulisic (Werner 69); Lukaku

Unused subs: Bettinelli, Barkley, Jorginho, Loftus-Cheek, Saul, Havertz

Booked: Alonso, Kovacic

Manchester City: Ederson; Walker, Stones, Laporte, Cancelo; Rodrigo, De Bruyne (c) (Gundogan 84); Bernardo, Sterling, Grealish; Foden (Jesus 88)

Unused subs: Steffen, Dias, Fernandinho, Mbete, McAtee, Lavia, Wilson-Esbrand

Scorer: De Bruyne (70)

Referee: Craig Pawson

Internationals: Baba and Ghana denied by late leveller

Andre Ayew, the former Swansea striker, put the Black Stars in front in the 18th minute with a superb low strike from range. Baba (no.17) is pictured top after the celebrations. 

Ghana held on to that advantage until two minutes from time despite playing well below their best. On the hour they were indebted to Baba, the left-back on loan at Reading this season, who cleared a goalbound shot from close to the goal-line to preserve the Black Stars’ lead.

But there was nothing he could do when Gabon levelled in the 88th minute, Jim Allevinah firing in from the left-hand side of the box to make it 1-1.

Ghanian frustrations spilled over at full-time leading to a mass brawl that resulted in Ghana’s Benjamin Tetteh being shown a red card long after the final whistle.

The result leads Ghana in some strife heading into their final group game on Tuesday. They are third in Group C with one point, three points behind Gabon and five off Morocco.

The Black Stars play Comoros on Tuesday evening knowing they must win and hope Gabon lose to Morocco to stand any chance of finishing in the top two. If they win and Gabon avoid defeat, their only hope of advancing is as one of the best four third-place teams.

Earlier on Friday, Senegal were held to a goalless draw by Guinea with Edouard Mendy again absent having tested positive for Covid last weekend.

Senegal and Guinea remain locked on four points each at the top of Group B following a game of very few chances. Senegal, who have all but qualified for the last 16, complete their group schedule against Malawi on Tuesday.

Gallery: An inside look at training ahead of Man City

While the defensive quartet of Reece James, Ben Chilwell, Trevoh Chalobah and Andreas Christensen missed out, the rest of the Blues squad trained in the brilliant Surrey sunshine on a chilly afternoon at Cobham.

There was also an appearance for the mini footballs, a staple of Tuchel’s training prior to matchday, as spirits remained high following our win at Tottenham in midweek and subsequent advance into the Carabao Cup final.

Matters turn back to the Premier League this weekend as we head to the champions and league leaders for a Saturday lunchtime kick-off.

We’ve selected the best of the images from today’s session for you to enjoy below…

FA Youth Cup report: Watford 2 Chelsea 3

Chelsea (3-4-2-1): Prince Adegoke; Brodie Hughes, Alfie Gilchrist (c), Luke Badley-Morgan; Brodie Hughes, Lewis Hall (Richard Olise, 116), Charlie Webster, Zain Silcot-Duberry (Tudor Mendel-Idowu 98); Malik Mothersille (Louis Flower 105), Harvey Vale, Jude Soonsup-Bell (Leo Castledine 70).
Unused Subs: Ted Curd, Derrick Abu, Sam Rak-Sakyi.
Scorers: Harvey Vale 9, 105, Malik Mothersille 22.

Watford (4-2-3-1): Alfie Marriott, Ryan Andrews, Hamzat Balogun, Adian Manning, George Abbott, Will Hall (c), Kyreece Lisbie, Jack Grieves, Emmanuel Adeyemo, Shaqai Forde, Adrian Blake.
Unused Subs: Jonathan Macaulay, Christos Batzelis, Ben Smith, Freddie Moriarty, Enoch Muwonge, Aaron Benn, Ethan Golding.
Scorers: Emmanuel Adeyemo 44, Adrian Blake 75.