'On the bench': Pep Guardiola makes claim about Chelsea's substitutes after facing them on Saturday

Pep Guardiola said Manchester City’s win over Chelsea was made even more impressive because of the quality Thomas Tuchel had in reserve on the day.

As quoted by the club website, Guardiola insisted his side’s 1-0 victory on Saturday was made sweeter by the strength of their guests at the Etihad.

The weekend’s Premier League encounter showcased potentially the game’s most expensive showdown of all time.

£100m (Sky) Jack Grealish against £97.3m (Sky) Romelu Lukaku.

£49m (BBC) Raheem sterling versus £58m (BBC) Christian Pulisic.

City take control of the league

From one to 11, the price tags seemed to increase.

Photo by Tom Flathers/Manchester City FC via Getty Images

To a man, however, it was City who cashed in their quality.

In a fixture full of such class, a moment of magic was enough to decide the contest.

Kevin de Bruyne’s curling strike 20-minutes from time broke the deadlock, a goal suitable to win a title.

Which is exactly what City are on course to do now, as they have moved 13 points clear of Thomas Tuchel’s men.

What could’ve been for the Blues

Yet, Chelsea had their chances to take the lead and cut the advantage between themselves and the league leaders.

Easily the best opportunity fell to Lukaku, who went one-on-one with Ederson, only to see his shot saved by the Brazilian goalkeeper.

Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

At 0-0, that could’ve and should’ve been a turning point in the tie.

De Bruyne then punished his compatriot’s failure to convert, demonstrating a lesson in execution.

Pep talk

Just before Chelsea conceded, Tuchel brought on Timo Werner and Callum Hudson-Odoi, before replacing Marcos Alonso for Mason Mount after going behind.

An attacking change that did not bring any substance.

He could’ve also called upon the likes of Kai Havertz, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Jorginho or Saul Niguez.

It is this depth that Guardiola highlighted when describing the magnitude of his team’s triumph.

“I know how difficult it is to play against Chelsea. They defend all the corridors inside, there are no channels to attack, you have to be so patient and not lose the ball in certain positions that they are waiting for,” said the Spaniard.

Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

“After three defeats in a row, especially in the final of the Champions League, to be able to play the way we have done in these two games is the biggest compliment I can give to my players.

“In 180 minutes, we conceded one shot on target against the European Champions.

“I give compliments because the opponent is so good, Thomas Tuchel is an outstanding manager and the player they have playing and on the bench, in the squad is always really good.”

Bundles of cash on the bench

Whilst Chelsea’s substitute brigade was pretty stacked, City had a few decent understudies waiting in reserve as well.

Ilkay Gundogan and Gabriel Jesus came on in the last ten minutes to sure up the result, whilst Ruben Dias and Fernandinho remained on the bench.

Yet, Guardiola did have to name four academy graduates in the squad, whilst Tuchel had five of his Champions League winners available.

Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

This meant very little by the final whistle.

For the Blues, reclaiming their European crown is surely now top of the priority list.

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Nathaniel is a football journalist who graduated from the University of Derby. He has worked at Burton Albion as part of their media team for two years. Nathaniel produces regular articles for the club’s official website and match-day programme. He covered the 2018 U20 Women’s World Cup in Brittany and has reported from grounds ranging from non-league up to the Premier League.