Conor Gallagher's moment of genius as Mauricio Pochettino provides Chelsea tactical masterclass


It's perhaps rare a team makes a statement with a draw. When it's going head to head against Manchester City in a firefight, it is difficult to depart without enthusiasm. Not many teams concede four goals against the Premier League champions and come away with a result.

Of course, there are areas to improve but Sunday's stalement felt like a moment where Chelsea's young team, Mauricio Pochettino and the crowd all came together as one. Emotions were at fever-pitch but the Blues kept their composure to keep coming back. Something their head coach was proud of.

"Yes, very, very proud. I think," the 51-year-old said. "So happy, the players deserve credit because this performance, this evening was amazing. You face a team that for for me is the best team in the world and yes too many circumstances that happen during the game that make me very proud because in the way that we manage the game was was really good." takes a look at what we learned from Chelsea's draw with Manchester City.

Chelsea showing improvement against top sides

While Chelsea have brought plenty of frustration over the last 12 months or so in their inability to beat a low block, Mauricio Pochettino has allowed his team to compete with the best. The Blues have yet to taste defeat this season against the teams that currently make up the top four in Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester City.

The west London side have taken six points from those matches. Last term, Chelsea were only able to earn three points from all eight Premier League matches against those teams.

It hasn't simply been the points that the Blues have earned that has been impressive however, it's the approach to those games. In home outings against Liverpool, Arsenal and City, it's arguable that Pochettino's side should have earned more. The Blues comprehensively outplayed the Gunners to go 2-0 up before being the orchestrators of their own downfall, and can feel hard done by in the decision that saw Erling Haaland score from the spot against Manchester City. Even against Spurs, while the performance was not brilliant in many regards, their patience and management of the match is something the club have often lacked.

There is plenty of work to be done but this feels like a step in the right direction, and a vindication of how good the team's potential is.

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Reece James returning to his best

Chelsea's captain is making a habit of providing the world's elite wingers with their most difficult matches. Jermey Doku can now be added to a list that already includes Vinicius Jinior and Rafael Leao.

In his 64 minutes on the pitch James produced more tackles than anyone else managed over the course of 90, and still had an attacking element to his game as he provided the assists for Raheem Sterling's goal. It was a reminder of how good he can be.

The 23-year-old still looked to be building his fitness through pre-season and before picking up an injury that saw him not start a Premier League game between the opening day of the season and the win over Tottenham. His recovery has been carefully managed and Pochettino has been patient enough to build his minutes over time. His last two performances are showing the benefit of that and it will be refreshing for Chelsea to see the talent they once again have at their disposal.

Malo Gusto has proved an able deputy, as has Marc Cucurella, but James is unquestionably one of the best players in his position and having him feature at his very best will go a long way to ensuring Chelsea reach the level everybody hopes.

Mauricio Pochettino makes an impact

The 51-year-old may have endeared himself to Chelsea's supporters in his fury at Anthony Taylor, but Pochettino showed he could have an impact on the pitch too. The Blues head coach has shown the ability to prepare his teams well to face the biggest teams as shown above, but has been able to make the required changes at the right time in a match too.

Pochettino's first adjustments saw Malo Gusto and Mykhailo Mudryk introduced. The latter did not wait long to make his impact as he drove up the pitch carrying the ball in the build up to Nicolas Jackson's strike to help create Chelsea's opportunity.

Gusto's arrival came as Pochettino asked James whether he could carry on the game, and despite receiving the thumbs up, the former PSG coach made the decision to not risk his captain any further, and allow the fresh legs of Gusto. Again, Pochettino was vindicated.

The French youngster was defensively astute, and provided an offensive outlet too. That he didn't finish a good opportunity on his left foot, should not diminish the impact his introduction had.

Most notably was the choice to send on Armando Broja, however. Lesley Ugochukwu had been readied to enter the field before Rodri's late goal. Instead, Pochettino decided to sacrifice his stability in search of the equaliser and brought on Broja for Moises Caicedo. Moments later the Albania international had earned a penalty for Cole Palmer to dispatch.

Clever Conor Gallagher

At this stage it would be disingenuous to suggest that we've learned of Conor Gallagher's quality, but the Cobham product keeps showing additional layers to his abilities this season. Having been unsure of his place at the club, the 23-year-old has cemented himself as the team's player of the season so far and has captained the team more than anyone else this term.

Once again, Gallagher's pressing was relentless as he harried Manuel Akanji and Rodri in Manchester City's midfield, ensuring that they had to work through chaos instead of control. It's no surprise that Gallagher showed his ability to battle, it has been his trademark but he also showed smarts on his way to his fourth assist of the season.

Moments after Ederson had been down and receiving treatment, Gallagher looked to take advantage from distance, to test how fit the Brazilian was having continued. In fairness, he made the save, but could only push it in Nicolas Jackson's direction.

It was a moment in Gallagher's battles with Rodri that will leave many salivating, however. Chelsea's midfielder hounded the City star all afternoon and risked a flare-up in the second period. Instead he was restrained, and stood over Rodri as the Spaniard lay on the floor having made a challenge of his own. It was restrained and authoratitive and Rodri could only stand up and walk away.

Gallagher is becoming a true leader of the Chelsea side, and bringing the mentality that Pochettino has demanded.

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