POP QUIZ. Who wears No 9 for Manchester City and Chelsea?
No cheating! Give up? Cigar and a coconut if you said. . . NOBODY.
PA:Empics Sport5 Eden Hazard won the battle of the false nines at Stamford Bridge
What used to be an iconic jersey at both clubs — think Peter Osgood and Kerry Dixon, Joe Royle and Niall Quinn — now belongs to no-one, just as the old-fashioned centre-forward sometimes seems like a thing of the past at the very highest levels of the game.
Alvaro Morata gave up Chelsea’s No 9 last summer, opting for the No 29 after his twin sons were born on July 29 — although some suggested it was because the shirt has been cursed since Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink left West London in 2004.
City have not bothered allocating the No 9 since Nolito left in 2017 and he was a bit-part winger, anyway.
Sergio Aguero has the goals of an out-and-out frontman but at 5ft 8in he is not your old-school target man, especially under the Pep Guardiola masterplan.
Getty Images5 The Belgian was instrumental in Chelsea's 2-0 win over Man City
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So last night was the battle of the false nines. Eden Hazard versus Raheem Sterling, then Riyad Mahrez, then Gabriel Jesus.
And until Hazard teed up N’Golo Kante for the opener, it was a battle City looked likely winners.
The main idea behind using a false nine is to draw out opposition centre-backs and create space for wingers or attacking midfielders.
Guardiola’s team enjoyed more success in that regard, particularly down their left, and had two good chances before Kante scored.
Getty Images5 Raheem Sterling started in the same role for City but it did not work out