Two losses in four days stalled Chelsea’s progress in the Premier League, turning the spotlight to their expensively assembled attack that remains a work in progress.
Two drab draws for Manchester City in the same period is raising even more questions – notably, what has happened to what was once the most entertaining team in England?
It was an evening to forget for two of the league’s supposed title contenders with Chelsea’s 2-1 loss at Wolverhampton Wanderers – sealed by a winning goal in stoppage time – followed by City’s 1-1 draw at home to West Bromwich Albion, one of the favourites for relegation this season.
Chelsea missed the chance to go top, for at least for one night, while City squandered an opportunity to move within sight of the top two – Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool.
Chelsea’s setback at Molineux followed a 1-0 loss at Everton on Saturday.
Olivier Giroud, who began the season as the Blues’ third-choice striker, is now starting regularly and opened the scoring against Wolves.
Only for Daniel Podence to equalise and Pedro Neto to grab the winner in the fifth minute of stoppage time.
Chelsea manager Frank Lampard was left unimpressed by his side’s lack of composure and has plenty to ponder – with off-season recruits Timo Werner and Kai Havertz underwhelming.
“We should see the game out at 1-0,” he said.
“If you’re not playing well, don’t allow counter-attacks and we did.”
Pep Guardiola has questions to answer too with City languishing in sixth place after a tepid display against West Brom, who grabbed a point thanks to an unfortunate own-goal by City defender Ruben Dias in the 43rd minute.
City took the lead via lkay Gundogan in the 30th but struggled for imagination in the main despite dominating possession.
It was only really in stoppage time that City looked dangerous, with Baggies goalkeeper Sam Johnstone making point-blank saves to deny Gundogan and Raheem Sterling.
“We are able to control a lot, we are conceding the minimum, nothing,” said Guardiola, whose team had a run of six clean sheets before Tuesday’s game.
“We were better in all departments, but we are struggling to score.”
With 18 goals in 12 games, City are the lowest scorers of the league’s top nine – although they now have star striker Sergio Aguero back from injury.