Kevin De Bruyne scored the only goal as Pep Guardiola’s men suffocated Chelsea with their intensity to move six points clear of the holders after seven games.
Chelsea lost striker Alvaro Morata to an apparent hamstring problem in the first half and were second best to a City side denied when Thibaut Courtois saved from David Silva and then Fernandinho.
De Bruyne’s left-footed strike from the edge of the area proved decisive against his former club, to give City a sixth win from seven games and inflict Chelsea’s second loss of the season.
Simon Johnson assesses the key talking points at the Bridge…
Striking situation comes back to haunt Chelsea
(Chelsea FC via Getty Images)
The sight of Alvaro Morata limping off in the first half was Chelsea’s worst nightmare come true.
Losing your top scorer to injury is always a blow, but the lack of options coach Antonio Conte had to replace him was just as significant.
There has always been strong evidence that the Italian doesn’t rate Michy Batshuayi, who joined from Marseille for £33.1m last year. Just look at the starts he’s made.
Even after scoring four goals in his last two appearances, Conte turned to Willian first to come on as a replacement.
Chelsea did look to acquire another centre forward in the close season, but somehow missed out to rivals Tottenham over Fernando Llorente.
Hamstring injuries can take a while to clear up so Chelsea look very lightweight in attack all of a sudden.
The only positive is that Morata has timed the problem to coincide with the international break so at least two weeks of his recovery will be spent while the Blues aren’t in action.
Even when Batshuayi eventually came on in the second half, he did little to prove Conte wrong.
Christensen deserves to be starting on merit
(Chelsea FC via Getty Images)
So far the Denmark international has had to rely on the ill discipline of others to start high profile matches.
First he benefitted from Gary Cahill’s red card against Burnley and now it is David Luiz’s moment of madness against Arsenal.
After the international break there will be no suspensions to gift Christensen game-time, perhaps just the Carabao Cup at home to Everton.
However, the 21-year-old was one of the few positives to emerge from Chelsea’s struggle at home to Manchester City.
There were a number of timely interventions as City crossed the ball with menace. He also carried the ball out of defence on occasion with more confidence than experienced colleagues.
Christensen is clearly a great talent and it would be a waste if he is reduced to warming the bench too often.
De Bruyne outshines Hazard
When it came to the battle between the two star Belgians, there was one clear winner.
While Hazard was subdued for long periods, not helped by feeding off scraps of possession, De Bruyne was a constant menace.
The Manchester City midfielder made little impact during a brief stay at Stamford Bridge earlier in his career.
De Bruyne started just five games for Chelsea between 2012-14 before being sold to Wolfsburg for £18m.
Manchester City bought him for £54m just 18 months later and he has been worth every penny ever since.
Last year he hit the crossbar from close range when Manchester City were leading Conte’s side 1-0. it was a costly miss as the Blues came back to win 3-1.
There was no mistake this time though as he fired a superb winner past Belgium team-mate Thibaut Courtois.
Hazard’s miserable evening was complete as he was taken off with 18 minutes to go even though the home side were chasing an equaliser.
Chelsea’s home form is becoming a liability
Conte turned Stamford Bridge back into a fortress in their title winning campaign, but the venue is hurting their challenge this time around.
The Burnley defeat on opening day could have been dismissed as a one-off, however now they have won just one of their first four League matches in SW6.
That includes drawing and losing to rivals Arsenal and Manchester City respectively.
It is not just the results that will trouble Conte, it is the performances. The only time they have played like champions in the League here was in their solitary victory – a 2-0 success over Everton.
Chelsea’s displays are in stark contrast with how they have played on the road so far, where they boast a 100 per cent record.
City prove why they are the title favourites
The red half of Manchester will disagree, yet this victory by Pep Guardiola’s men has sent out a message loud and clear that they are the team to beat.
Even without the likes of Sergio Aguero, Vincent Kompany and Benjamin Mendy, City made the defending champions look second rate.
Their pressing game panicked the Chelsea players whenever they were in possession, their passing game silenced the home fans.
The only negative will be the scoreline for one goal doesn’t reflect the dominance the visitors enjoyed.
Conte will point to the fact that Chelsea played in Atletico Madrid 24 hours after Manchester City had a more comfortable evening at home to Shakhtar Donetsk.
However, fatigue was not the decisive factor here, City’s quality was.
Manchester United sit joint top with their noisy neighbours, six points clear of Chelsea and five ahead of Tottenham.
They have looked impressive too, however until they overcome one of the top teams, then City will remain the side to fear.