Fall of Roman's empire?

Chelsea defender Gary Cahill ends up with a bloody nose after goalkeeper Asmir Begovic tries to punch the ball clear during the match with Manchester City.
Chelsea defender Gary Cahill ends up with a bloody nose after goalkeeper Asmir Begovic tries to punch the ball clear during the match with Manchester City.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

But Mourinho not too perturbed over poor start to season, downplays 0-3 loss to City

LONDON • Suddenly, unrest in the medical department is the least of Chelsea's worries.

Even if it may feel a little too soon to diagnose a full-blown, early-season crisis for the Premier League champions, Sunday's 0-3 defeat by rivals Manchester City was resounding.

Blues manager Jose Mourinho called it a "fake result" but the statistics suggested otherwise. Chelsea, bankrolled by Roman Abramovich, took 70 minutes to register their first shot on goal - when Eden Hazard was denied from close range - and had just two in total.

City, in contrast, took just 22 seconds to force Asmir Begovic - deputising in goal for the suspended Thibaut Courtois - into a save.

The home side would finish with eight of their 18 shots on target.

  • HOW POOR IS CHELSEA'S POOR START

  • 3

    The 0-3 loss at Manchester City - Jose Mourinho's joint-worst result as Chelsea manager - was only the third Blues defeat by three goals in his 299 games in charge.

  • 2

    This is only the second time that reigning champions failed to win either of their first two games. Manchester United first set that dubious honour in 2007-08.

  • 1

    A solitary point from two games is Mourinho's worst return after two Premier League matches. Chelsea have lost a league match in August for the first time in nine years, ending a 28-game unbeaten streak.

Chelsea were fortunate that City had only Sergio Aguero's brilliant goal to show for a terrific first-half performance.

But, after the surprising half-time substitution of John Terry that ended a run of 3,555 minutes the centre-back had been on the pitch for Chelsea in the league, Vincent Kompany and Fernandinho added further goals for City.

City were stronger in every department, not least in central midfield, where Fernandinho was outstanding alongside Yaya Toure, and in the wide areas, where Branislav Ivanovic and Cesar Azpilicueta, the Chelsea full-backs, found themselves overrun.

It was Mourinho's joint-worst Premier League defeat as Chelsea manager, having lost by a three-goal margin just twice before. And a point from two games marks his worst return after two Premier League matches.

While he tried to downplay the result, City manager Manuel Pellegrini was having none of it.

"In the first half, we deserved at least three goals," said the Chilean. "It was more equal in the second half. Chelsea played better but I remember Joe (Hart) just making one save at 3-0. Our team played better and three is the least we deserved.

"I am very satisfied because it is not easy to beat the champions. Chelsea were the best team and won the title last season.

"We conceded no chances and created at least four and Begovic had a great performance."

Victory allowed City to open a five-point gap over the champions after only two fixtures. But Pellegrini maintained that it is still too early in the season to claim a gauntlet has been thrown down.

"We are not sending a message, we are just trying to play the way we always do," he said.

"Last year, we made mistakes but we still scored a lot of goals. Now, we have played two matches but we have scored three in each. We are more concentrated and motivated on defending and that is why we have two clean sheets."

City's first win was against West Bromwich - Chelsea's next opponents. Ominously, the Blues lost 0-3 at the Hawthorns last season.

But Mourinho shrugged off talk of a poor start to their title defence.

"One point from six is better than no points from six," said the Portuguese, who was criticised for demoting his medics Eva Carneiro and Jon Fearn after a 2-2 draw with Swansea City in their opening match.

Ivanovic also remained calm amid the London club's worst start since 1998.

"We haven't done well in the first two games but there is another 36 to go and we know we have to improve ourselves," he said.

THE TIMES, LONDON, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 18, 2015, with the headline 'Fall of Roman's empire?'. Print Edition | Subscribe