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David Luiz was immense for Chelsea... his goal was also a glorious moment for Maurizio Sarri

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David Luiz was immense for Chelsea... his goal was also a glorious moment for Maurizio Sarri, the man who rescued him from the scrapheadDavid Luiz was brilliant in defence and scored second goal for Chelsea in win Brazilian would almost certainly have left if Antonio Conte was still in charge Maurizio Sarri has helped Luiz resurrect his Chelsea career this season

That great head of hair soaring high to meet the ball must warm the hearts of Chelsea fans. 

David Luiz was principally engaged in defensive responsibilities here and in those he was immense. As might be expected, no back four that faces Manchester City gets away with an easy afternoon.

Yet it was on 78 minutes that his shock of hair rose above a clutch of Manchester City defenders and you suspected the game was up for City, that the invincible season would elude them once again.

David Luiz capped his performance in defence with a marvelous goal in the second half

The goal was also a glorious moment for Maurizio Sarri who has resurrected Luiz's career

The Brazilian would connect decisively and direct the ball past his compatriot Ederson and Chelsea would have a 2-0 lead which they would never look like ceding.

Luiz celebrated in the style to which we have become accustomed: exuberantly and passionately, sliding on his knees towards the corner flag, arms outstretched to embrace the Matthew Harding End. 

It was a glorious moment and not just for Luiz but for the man who rescued him from the Chelsea scrapheap. Luiz would certainly not be here if Antonio Conte had stayed and even under Maurizio Sarri his future seemed unsure. And yet he been a mainstay of Sarri's attempt to transform this Chelsea side.

An attempt, it has to be said, that has accumulated a fair few doubters in recent weeks. A 17-game unbeaten run had been somewhat exposed by defeats to Tottenham and Wolves. 

Specifically, his key signing Jorginho, his on-field chief lieutenant, seemed unable to operate in his usual fashion when overwhelmed by Tottenham. N’Golo Kante seemed a better bet in front of the back four yet Sarri was not for changing. 

Jorginho, who had followed the coach from Napoli, would maintain his role and Kanté would retain the responsibilities to get forward more.

Luiz glanced his head on the ball and  it flew into the far corner past Ederson 

Yet if Chelsea feared Sarri was turning into Felipe Luiz Scolari, then the Italian had an answer. The Brazilian coach had started well at Chelsea in 2008 before his distinctive South American style got somewhat found out in the hurly burly of the Premier League. 

And by February 2009 he was gone. Might Sarri be the same? There is an element of quirkiness to his distinctive style of risk-taking attacking football, developed in the non-league and lower reaches of Italian football, far away from the elite game Pep Guardiola has inhabited.

He had insisted that he could only play one way: passing out from the back, pushing the defence up high and pressing the oppositions as vigorously as he could. Turned out that wasn’t the whole truth. 

Here he showed the crucial ability to adapt, sitting deep conceding possession and never once in the first half pressing as furiously as he normally does.

There was a nuanced Sarrisimo. And how he was rewarded, not least in Kanté’s performance, pretty much as perfect as could be in that box-to-box role. There was a period at the start of the second half where he repeatedly ran through City’s midfield. 

Kante produced a superb all-round performance and  charged through the defence 

As the game waned, he was the man tidying up and nicking the ball in more familiar fashion. Yet he proved beyond doubt he is excellent at both,

As for Sarri, this was a special triumph. We all know that there are ways to cut through a Guardiola team. It’s just that’s sometimes they won’t give you the ball back, so it’s difficult to demonstrate that fact.

His defeats are pretty rare, so tend to be mined for information. There was a famous one back here in 2012, when a Didier Drogba goal separated Chelsea and Guradiola’s Barcelona. 

That was engineered by Robert Di Matteo, a backs-to-the-wall performance, where possession was deliberately conceded and the set pieces exploited. And while the first half had elements of that with Cesar Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger and Luiz immense in defence, this was never quite as reductive.

It was more reminiscent of another of the significant Guardiola defeat, back in 2010, when Jose Mourinho was still in fashion and coaching an Internazionale team far inferior to Barcelona. 

Mourinho proved to be their Nemisis by repeatedly hitting a long, cross-field ball switching the play from one wing to another very rapidly, which exposed Barca’s full backs in a Champions League semi-final. Inter won the first leg 3-1 which proved decisive in going on to win the trophy that year. 

The fact is that Guardiola is so committed to attack, that assuming you can win the ball back, there are always vulnerabilities.

Pep Guardiola's sides pour forward  with abandon but they can be punished  on the counter

At Stamford Bridge Sarri’s Chelsea managed something perhaps even more impressive for their opening goal on 45 minutes. 

They were pretty much dominated for the entire first half, struggling to get out of their half. Sitting deep, they were content to absorb. 

They relied on sheer doggedness of the back four, Azpilicueta, Luiz and Rudiger especially, diving in and blocking Leroy Sané and Raheem Sterling time after time.

But, in true rope-a-dope fashion, when they moment came to deliver the punch, they did so decisively and incisively. 

So David Luiz drilled a ball switching the play to far right with Pedro. City were already struggling with that change of angle. But when Pedro simply took a touch and immediately switched the play again to the left flank and onrushing threat of Willian, City already seemed unsettled. 

That in itself is rare. Both full backs pusing up high had been exposed and now Walker was scrabbling to get back.

The diminutive Frenchman partially vindicated Sarri's refusal to play him in the holding role

In fact, they survived the initial cross, Fernandinho heading clear, but only to Marcos Alonso and he then fed the an of maxium danger, Eden Hazard to try again. 

The Belgian wriggled away and cut back a ball which appeared to be aimless but actuall was inviting N’Golo Kanté to produce a lung-bursting run late into the box and finish emphatically. 

It was in the mould of Frank Lampard and a partial vindication of Sarri’s refusal to play him in a holding role. 

There has always been more to Kanté than that. It was also a magnificent move, perhaps the only way to unsettle an exquisite City side who have only previously been behind once this season, for 12 minutes at Wolves. 

That was the measure of their victory here: prior to the match City seemed invincible. Now maybe we can even dream of a title race. After all, as the table stands, they’re not even top.


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