Chelsea morale takes a beating as team suffers a 4-0 loss to Man City
One point from two games. An unseemly spat with medical staff. A porous defense. A rival back to its rampant best.
The problems are piling up for Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho early in its Premier League title defense.
In the first heavyweight showdown of the season, Chelsea was overwhelmed Sunday in a 3-0 loss at Manchester City that could have a lasting psychological effect among the two title favorites.
Sergio Aguero scored a stunning individual strike in the first half before Vincent Kompany and Fernandinho added goals in the final 11 minutes, as City displayed the kind of attacking swagger that took them to the title in 2014.
“Today we made the complete work,” said City manager Manuel Pellegrini, who punched the air with delight after the final whistle as a solemn-looking Mourinho headed for the tunnel.
City tops the fledgling standings on maximum points, ahead of Leicester and Manchester United on goal difference, while Chelsea is fifth from bottom after an uncomfortable start to the season.
Such was Mourinho’s concern after a one-sided first half at Etihad Stadium that he removed captain and central defender John Terry at halftime, in order to add pace to his backline. It was the first time in 177 league matches that Mourinho has substituted Terry.
“He was not dancing in the dressing room,” Mourinho said, “but I can tell you that he was not having a bad reaction.”
Chelsea has conceded five goals in two games — it drew 2-2 at home to Swansea on the opening weekend — and isn’t looking as dynamic going forward.
Throw in his much-publicized disagreement with two members of Chelsea’s medical staff during the Swansea game, which led to them being dropped from matchday duties at City, and these are tough times for Mourinho.
City, which looks the early title favorite on this evidence, is already five points ahead of last season’s champions.
In Sunday’s other match, Arsenal won its first match of the campaign by beating Crystal Palace 2-1 away, restoring confidence after opening with a surprise 2-0 home loss to West Ham.
A stunning scissor kick by Olivier Giroud set Arsenal on its way in the 16th minute and it needed an own goal in the 55th by Palace defender Damien Delaney to secure the points at Selhurst Park.
Joel Ward equalized with a drilled shot inside the far post in the 28th, but the Palace right back then beaten in the air by Alexis Sanchez, whose header was diverted by Delaney into his own net for Arsenal’s winner.
“To get the three (points) is already a little bit of a turning point in the Premier League for us. To lose today would have been a big blow mentally,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. “We have shown our strong response.”
At Etihad Stadium, Aguero made amends for a slew of early missed chances by exchanging passes with Yaya Toure, twisting inside his marker and placing a pinpoint shot inside the far post in the 32nd minute.
Kompany headed in David Silva’s corner in the 79th and Fernandinho drove in a third six minutes later for City’s second 3-0 victory in seven days, after beating West Bromwich Albion by that score on Monday.
Senior stars Toure and Kompany look back to their best and Aguero was a constant menace in his first start, having come back late in preseason.
“I think Sergio Aguero is in the best moment of his career,” Pellegrini said. “He was the top scorer (last season). I believe this season he can be even better.”