MANCHESTER (Reuters) - Chelsea’s young side have made huge strides under Frank Lampard this season but having opened the scoring and dominated much of the first half at Manchester City before losing 2-1 on Saturday they will see it as an opportunity missed.
Chelsea took the lead through N’Golo Kante after 21 minutes after keeping City on the back foot for most of the opening exchanges, with Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic controlling proceedings from midfield.
The visitors missed several chances to double their lead but were left to rue the inability to make their pressure count as a deflected Kevin De Bruyne strike got City back into the contest, before Riyad Mahrez scored what proved to be the winner.
The fact that City finished the match with less possession (46.7%) — the lowest recorded by a side managed by Pep Guardiola in any of his 381 games as a top-flight coach — than Chelsea shows the Blues more than matched the champions.
But it was not the first time Chelsea have tasted defeat this season in a match they could, and possibly should, have taken something from.
Their 4-0 loss to Manchester United at Old Trafford on the opening day of the season would normally suggest an inept showing but Chelsea had more shots than the hosts, hitting the bar and post in the first half, and again more possession.
In their other league defeat, a 2-1 home reverse against Liverpool in September, Chelsea had double the efforts on goal of their opponents, but again came up just short.
“We had relative control of the game at 1-0,” Chelsea manager Frank Lampard said after Saturday’s match at the Etihad.
“We were playing well, and throughout the game there were lots of positives, but we lost the game and it shows you that the finer details in these big games, in both boxes, can decide these ones.
“These teams, Liverpool and City, have been getting results as they work hard and get those finer details right in these games.”
Chelsea’s campaign in Lampard’s first season as a Premier League manager has to be judged a success so far as they came into the City game in third place having been unable to sign any players in the close season because of a FIFA transfer ban.
Yet, as Lampard knows, to match the likes of City and leaders Liverpool, his Chelsea side have to learn from these kind of defeats and ensure they get results, not just impressive performances, against the best the Premier League has to offer.
Reporting by Peter Hall; Editing by Ken Ferris