The Good Son shines for Blues

SO, the 'son-in-law' has replaced the son-of-a-b*tch!

That's how it appeared for Antonio Conte as he celebrated Alvaro Morata's equaliser in customary manic style while his Atletico-bound troublemaker Diego Costa bared his teeth in the stands.

And when Michy Batshuayi popped in the winner to suggest he might be a decent deputy for Morata after all, the Chelsea boss's joy was unconfined. Make no mistake, this was a famous victory. Thoroughly deserved and the best by an English club in Europe for many years.

Atletico are the most cussed of opponents at the best of times and in the first Champions League game in their spanking new stadium, Diego Simeone had them and the crowd even more worked-up than usual. But they were second best to the Premier League champions throughout.

In short, Chelsea did 'an Atletico' on Atletico. Bossing the game, defending stoutly – one aberration apart – showing a never-say-die spirit to come from behind and ruthlessly stealing the spoils with the last kick. It was a win from Simeone's very own manual but, judging by his reaction, Conte revelled in it.

Indeed, to borrow a phrase from Kevin Keegan, he "would have loved it" that Morata, of all people, was instrumental in the win. Described as the sort of fellah he would like his daughter to marry, the Spanish nice guy was a thorn in Atletico's side even before his goal.

His pace, his work rate and his darting runs deserved a goal even before he scored with the deftest of headers from Eden Hazard's peach of a cross. He had no need to comb his hair afterwards – he flicked the ball home as if it were dandruff.

Hazard was another star and it looks increasingly as if Chelsea are safe from having 'a Mourinho season'. Looking back, there was just the blip at home to Burnley and even then they came within a whisker of pulling back a 3-0 deficit with nine men.

The only blot on the landscape was the idiocy of David Luiz who seems to be slipping back to his 'Playstation' worst.

Only just returned from a previous ban, the Brazilian will be missing again after the most blatant of shirt pulls in front of the ref.

And it was this that may have prompted Conte to rage against a fixture schedule that puts quantity before quality. As is well documented with their foreign legion of loanees and their offloading of fringe players, Chelsea, more than anyone, like a squad to be lean and mean.

The dangers are injuries and suspensions and, almost blissfully free of either and no European football to distract them, they made the most of it last time around.

But with transfers not under his control and a few untimely knocks, Conte fears he may not have the depth to fight on two fronts. Luiz's self-inflicted absence is the last thing he needed.

Pity the poor billionaires, some will say. Sympathy for the fat cats of football, particularly the nouveau riche brigades of Chelsea and Man City, is in short supply from a public already reeling from a summer of transfer excess.

But the Italian surely has a valid point when he slams the TV schedulers who have staged Saturday's crucial clash with City less than 72 hours after a daunting and draining away Champions League encounter in Madrid?

By the end of what is expected to be a close race, the City game could come to be seen as a title decider. And with another confounded international break to follow, there is no reason it could not be staged on Sunday.

City are also feeling sorry for themselves with the news that, for the second season running, a major new signing is likely to miss most of it before he's even located his locker. Last year it was Ilkay Gundongan, this time Benjamin Mendy.

But, once again, when you've spent £120m on full-backs, few tears are going to be shed. And Pep Guardiola has already hinted that he may be flashing another circa £50m cheque for a replacement in January.

Title decider? With a nod to Manchester United, it could be one of a few. But the impressive starts this trio have made compared with the stuttering of Arsenal and Liverpool and lingering doubts about Spurs, they are most people's favourites.

City will have had an extra day's recovery and did not travel. But such advantages are surely countered by the loss of Mendy.

The Frenchman was looking the best of all Pep's summer signings, an absolute powerhouse on the left who added a new dimension to City's arsenal with his devastating pace and early crosses.

Another thing barely noticed before the Pep steamroller has been their lack of ball-winners.

Yes, they have a surfeit of creative midfielders – the brilliant Bernardo Silva can barely get a look in – but only Fernandinho can be expected to win a tackle. Or make an interception.

Chelsea, with N'Golo Kante and Tiemoue Bakayoko, have the men to smother City's creative hub. And as this is where games are won and lost, it could be why Conte holds the cards. He outwitted Simeone in his own back yard and, before a baying and brim-full Bridge, he can outwit Pep.

It was this fixture last year (albeit at the Etihad) that turned the title race on its head when Kevin de Bruyne hit the top of the bar from four yards. In midweek, Raheem Sterling also got under a tap-in to hit the underside of the bar from the same distance – but it bounced in.

By such margins are titles won and lost. City will have had more rest, but Chelsea have more power where it matters. And the right sort of son.