At the Etihad Stadium, the USMNT starlet the Blues down by missing crucial chances as they were eliminated from the League Cup.City started their quest to win the Carabao Cup for the fifth time in six years with a 2-0 victory over Chelsea, proving that they still have a strong passion for the competition despite not taking home the trophy last season.
Two much-changed teams produced an intriguing match at the Etihad Stadium, with the difference coming from goals from Riyad Mahrez and Julian Alvarez in the second half. Graham Potter faces a challenging task in the coming months to turn things around at Stamford Bridge after Chelsea lost three of their previous four games overall. Who, however, had the nicest night and will want to fast forget about this one?
The Performing Side:
Jack Grealish: Grealish’s suitability for a Pep Guardiola team is still being questioned, but if he consistently delivers performances of this caliber, those doubts will soon be put to rest. From the first kickoff, the England international was on fire, slicing through the Chelsea defense, opening up opportunities for both himself and others, and winning free kicks in potentially dangerous spots.
If Edouard Mendy hadn’t made three excellent saves on either side of halftime to stop the City winger, he might have scored a hat-trick on another night. He can light up Qatar for the Three Lions if he can maintain this form into the World Cup.
Lewis Hall: One of Chelsea’s few bright spots on yet another bad night was the performance of young Lewis Hall. The 18-year-old was playing in only his second senior game, yet he was a dynamo at left wing-back, routinely outperforming fellow rookie Rico Lewis.
Hall will be perplexed as to how he failed to put the game to bed with a goal after being stopped twice by Ortega saves. However, he really ought to have done better with his first opportunity after finding himself in a good position inside the penalty area. Although he was unable to score on his second opportunity, Hall put on a display that signaled he is prepared for more chances in 2023. His second opportunity was more of a wonderful stop from Ortega.
Kalvin Phillips: Numerous City players, including Ortega in goal and both of the goal scorers, Mahrez and Julian Alvarez, gave outstanding performances on the evening. Phillips, who played 40 minutes on his City debut after missing two months due to a shoulder injury, was possibly the greatest winner on Wednesday.
The 26-man England World Cup roster will be announced on Thursday afternoon, and while the former Leeds midfielder may have been included regardless of whether he participated in this tournament, Gareth Southgate will have taken note of his inclusion. If there was ever any question, Phillips will most likely be traveling to Qatar the following week.
The Losing Side:
Christian Pulisic: Grealish is poised to dominate the World Cup, but the same cannot be said of Pulisic, who once more failed to convince Graham Potter that he deserved to play more minutes. The American star missed his opportunity to give the visitors the lead early on when he was only seven or eight yards from the goal. His errant shot deflected into Stefan Ortega’s appreciative grip.
The City goalkeeper stopped Pulisic from scoring later in the half, but it was the best thing that could be said for the player who will be the focus of so many American aspirations in Qatar. Based on this evidence, he might find it difficult to carry them.
Kalidou Koulibaly: The Senegal defender appeared rusty and slow during Wednesday’s encounter because he has only participated in one of Chelsea’s previous five matches. He was possibly fortunate to only receive a caution for a foul on Grealish because, in the first half, he appeared to be breaking into the box, and City’s forwards were frequently dribbling past him.
He was the lone Chelsea wall player who did not leap as Riyad Mahrez blasted a 20-yard free-kick early in the second half. That perhaps sums up his performance the best. To start the scoring, the ball sailed directly over Koulibaly’s head and into the goal.
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