Chelsea’s summer began under a bit of a cloud following revelations of Diego Costa’s exile from the club, as well as the sales of youngster Nathaniel Chalobah, Nathan Ake, and most puzzling of all; Nemanja Matic’s sale to arch rivals Manchester United.
The Blues also missed out on signing Romelu Lukaku having been favourites to secure the Belgian’s services once again, and their squad appeared decimated as the proverbial ‘difficult second season’ approached.
The return of Andreas Christensen, as well as the eventual signings of Antonio Rudiger, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Alvaro Morata, and Davide Zappacosta, looked to have solved those issues and soothed Conte’s frustrations.
However, an opening day defeat to Burnley had some questioning whether Chelsea were to suffer a similar hoodoo to that of Mourinho’s third season of his second spell, in which the Portuguese was sacked after nine defeats in 16 Premier League games.
However, Conte’s side have since found form, earning impressive wins in the league against Tottenham, Everton, Leicester and Stoke as well as a hard-fought draw against Arsenal.
Though it seems harsh to consider a defeat against league leaders City as a major blow, historically Guardiola’s sides have struggled against Chelsea, with the Sky Blues losing both league fixtures against the Blues home and away last season.
His Barcelona side never relished a trip to Stamford Bridge were knocked out of the Champions League in the semi final in 2012 on the way to the Blues’ historic win, with talisman Leo Messi yet to find a goal against the Blues.
However, after Alvaro Morata withdrew with a hamstring complaint in the first half, Chelsea looked toothless and seemed content for City to dominate.
Michy Batshuayi was inexplicably left on the bench as Pedro came on and Hazard was pushed further forward.
The diminutive forward was crowded out by Stones and Otamendi leaving many questioning why the former Marseille man didn’t come on, and whether Conte really trusts the 24-year old to compete on the big stages.
Despite positive signs, it looks as though Chelsea still require further spending in January, and should consider renewing interest in top quality competition for Morata in the Andrea Belotti or Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang mould if they’re to compete on all fronts.