Chelsea continued their brilliant Premier League form on Saturday as they confidently dispatched Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City 3-1 at the Etihad Stadium. For the second successive week, Antonio Conte’s side came from behind to beat a genuine title contender. Tottenham were the victims last weekend, City this.

They initially fell behind on the stroke of half-time when central defender Gary Cahill accidently turned in a Jesus Navas cross. City appeared in control at that point, and could have extended the lead when Kevin De Bruyne hit the crossbar from close range.

But Chelsea then seized the initiative with a devastating display of counter-attacking Football. Diego Costa, Willian and Eden Hazard all netted in the final half hour to give the London club a superb 3-1 win.

Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho were both dismissed for the hosts in an ugly end to the game. Ultimately, it boiled down to frustration from City players as they knew they had been outthought and outfought by a highly-drilled Chelsea outfit.

Chelsea copy the Leicester blueprint

Chelsea’s victory on Saturday wore all the hallmarks of Leicester’s emphatic victory at the same venue in February. On that occasion, Leicester had 34% of possession, Chelsea had 39%. Leicester had fewer shots than City, so did the Blues.

The scoreline was also 3-1 to the visitors.

City had no answer to Leicester’s counter-attacking style on that day, and the same applied on Saturday. That victory catapulted the Foxes towards an unlikely Premier League title. At this point, it would be hard to bet against Conte’s Chelsea enjoying a similar fate.

The Blues are also reaping the benefit of a dreadful tenth-place finish last season, as they are able to rest between games in the absence of European football.

Saturday’s win was their eighth in a row since a chastening 3-0 defeat at Arsenal. Conte’s move to switch the formation at half-time after his side were outplayed for 45 minutes on that day has proved to be a masterstroke. Chelsea have conceded just twice since and now sit four points clear at the top of the table, albeit with Liverpool and Arsenal able to close the gap with their games in hand.

Not only has the change made the Blues more solid defensively, it has also liberated their attacking players. Victor Moses has been a revelation as a right wing-back, but the two key threats are Diego Costa and Eden Hazard.

Costa is the Premier League’s top scorer with 11 goals, while Hazard has seven goals from an advanced midfield position. Both are making amends for below-par campaigns in 2015/16, when many thought they downed tools on manager Jose Mourinho.

City fall short defensively

In contrast, City are looking some way off winning the title despite being favourites at the start of the season. Guardiola’s arrival was rightly greeted with huge optimism – he had coached Barcelona and Bayern Munich to near-constant success playing an attractive brand of football.

But while there have been undoubted highs early in his City reign, the Champions League win over Barcelona a prime example, he appears to have much work to do. The Citizens look particularly vulnerable at the back.

22 year-old central defender John Stones, signed for around £50 million from Everton, still looks raw and is regularly caught in possession in dangerous areas. Fellow defender Nicolas Otamendi was shrugged off by Costa before he netted Chelsea’s equaliser on Saturday. City’s best central defender is Vincent Kompany, but he has been injury-prone for years and has barely played under Guardiola.

The Spaniard is therefore rumoured to be considering a January move for Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk.

However, the Saints will be unwilling to sell, particularly halfway through the season so the summer may be more realistic.

Guardiola will have to find a way to shore up City in the meantime, much like Conte did for Chelsea when he switched to a back three. The Blues have swept all before them ever since.