Chelsea (Essien 18′) 1-0 Manchester City
Stadium: Stamford Bridge, England
Competition: English Premier League
Date: 15 March 2009
Kickoff: 13:30 GMT, 9:30 ET
Surging Chelsea knocked off Manchester City to close to within 4 points of Manchester United! Soccerlens brought you the action live! Click below for the live-blog and feel free to leave comments below!
When these teams met in September, it was right after Manchester City acquired Robinho in a record-breaking transfer deal from under Chelsea’s nose. If you believe Luis Felipe Scolari, Chelsea’s struggles this season can be tied, directly, to their failure to get that young, dynamic Brazilian forward. With Robinho’s up-and-down relationship with City’s manager Mark Hughes, it’s hard to argue with the idea that Chelsea might have been a better fit for him after all. However, he’s stuck with City for the time being, and he’ll be especially motivated to show Chelsea what he can do.
A couple other former Chelsea players will be itching to get a little bit of revenge on their old team. Shaun Wright-Phillips was sold to Chelsea so that they could free up money to get Robinho, and he has responded with a career year. Wayne Bridge also went to City after years of serving as Ashley Cole’s backup. He’ll also have an axe to grind with his old employers as he tries to establish himself with the English National Team for 2010.
These two, along with the rest of the squad, will have every incentive to play well and earn a positive result. Despite their up-and-down season, Manchester City have crept up to eighth place (although a European bid is a tremendous long-shot). Still, it’s important for City to finish as strongly as possible. Otherwise the marquee names that they crave will continue to snub them along the likes of Kaka, Buffon, and most recently, David Villa.
Of course, the biggest spotlight will be on Guus Hiddink and Chelsea. They’ve been playing well ever since Hiddink came on board, and are unbeaten in all competitions. The players seem to be happier, and nowhere is this more apparent than with Didier Drogba. The mercurial hitman has scored 3 goals in his last 4 matches and finally seems to be showing the kind of effort and form that made him one of the most dangerous strikers in the Premiership over the last few years. His ongoing partnership with Nicholas Anelka (who is every bit as mercurial as Drogba) is still a work in progress, while their players remain elderly and injury prone. However, Chelsea have something that they didn’t have when they got humiliated by Liverpool last month – hope. And hope can be a powerful thing, indeed. Whether it’s enough to boost their title chances remains to be seen.
Will Chelsea continue their run of good form and get back into the title race? Or will Manchester City spoil the party? Tune in and find out!
Chelsea: Cech, Bosingwa, Carvalho, Terry (c), A. Cole, Ballack, Essien, Lampard, Deco, Anelka, Drogba.
Subs: Hilario, Mikel, Malouda, Quaresma, Kalou, Alex, Belletti.
Only two changes from the side that knocked out Juventus in midweek as Alex will make way for the returning Carvalho at center-back, and Mikel will sit out in place of Deco. Essien will make his first Premiership start since August 31, and Chelsea fans are surely pleased to see him return. And, of course, all eyes will be up front where Drogba and Anelka will try and put the doubters to rest once and for all.
Manchester City: Given, Richards, Onuoha, Dunne (c), Bridge, Wright-Phillips, Ireland, Zabaleta, Elano, Robinho, Caicedo.
Subs: Hart, Bojinov, Garrido, Fernandes, Evans, Etuhu, Berti.
No changes from the side that defeated Aalborg in midweek in the UEFA Cup. lnjuries will keep Kompany and De Jong out of this match, which is a shame since they had been playing well. Same for Craig Bellamy, who had been in scintillating form ever since his transfer from West Ham. Former Chelsea players Bridge and Wright-Phillips will be starting, as will Robinho. Manchester City have not won at Stamford Bridge in 16 years and haven’t won away from home since August. Will they break their hoodoo today?
90′ + 3 Can City poach an underserved goal at the very end? Given with a booming kick into the box, but Chelsea clear it away. I guess not. There’s the whistle and we’re done! Thanks to everyone who tuned in! See you next time!
90′ + 2 Bojinov does his best Ronaldo impersonation as he does a series of stepovers in the box, only much slower and clumsier. He’s done more than Robinho, though. That’s for sure.
90′ + 1 Lampard tries his luck from long-range but it’s well wide of the post.
90′ Belletti nearly puts it through to Anelka in the box, but Bridge does well track back and knock it away. Bridge has played well, actually.
89′ Essien with the run towards the box, but Ireland makes a great tackle as Essien squares to shoot. Given takes it easily and tries to spring a counterattack. Ireland loses it out of bounds, though, and Chelsea will throw it in.
88′ Etuhu sends a shot into the cheap seats and he gets jeered by the crowd. Meanwhile, a bunch of fans head towards the exits. Hey, it’s been a boring match, but it ain’t over yet!
87′ Malouda with another chance as Richards slips and frees him up to take the shot. His shot beats Given, who was off his line, but Dunne is back to clear it off the line. I can’t believe Chelsea haven’t scored a second goal.
86′ Great pass from Wright Phillips to Anelka. Unfortunately, Wright-Phillips no longer plays for Chelsea. Anelka sends it to Malouda, whose shot hits the side netting.
85′ Terry’s header on the corner is over the crossbar.
84′ Bosingwa with a great cross from the right wing to the center of the box for Malouda. It’s out for a corner.
83′ Wright Phillips with a good run into the box and he plays it through to Bojinov. He cuts back to his left and creates space to shoot, but it’s off the mark. City come back and Zabaleta passes it to Bojinov once again. He shoots on goal, but Cech is more than equal to it.
81′ Robinho will come off to massive boos, and he’s replaced by Bojinov. Robinho had an afternoon to forget, didn’t he?
80′ Great chance for Chelsea, as Lampard lifts a cross from deep down the left wing to the center of the box for Ballack. He tries to get his head on it, but his shot is off target .
77′ Bosingwa tries to get around Bridge, but Bridge does well to stop it.
76′ Lampard is a good 40 yards out. This time, City do well to defend it, and Lampard’s kick doesn’t clear the wall.
75′ Evans is booked for a foul on Anelka.
73′ Malouda nearly breaks Wright-Phillips’ ankles with a killer crossover dribble. That was nasty.
71′ Guess not as Drogba limps off the pitch and he’ll be replaced by Malouda.
69′ Drogba is back on the field, so it looks like he’s okay.
68′ Drogba is down on the pitch and he’s receiving medical attention. He limps off the pitch and will continue to receive treatment on the sideline.
67′ Etuhu’s first touch of the game and he gets a shot opportunity from the edge of the box. It’s just wide of the post, though, otherwise that would have been one heck of a debut.
66′ City make another change as Elano comes off and will be replaced by Etuhu.
65′ City go on the attack and Robinho lays it off to Evans, who makes the run from the right. He tries to lift a cross to the far post, but it’s a poor one and goes over everyone’s head.
64′ Lampard sends in the corner and Given whiffs on it! Belletti has another chance, but his shot is blocked. City then knock it away from danger.
63′ Chelsea go on the break and Essien tees it up for Belletti. He fires a shot from the left edge of the box, and it beats Given easily but goes off the far post! Wow! City knock it away to concede the corner.
62′ Zabaleta does well to cut out Drogba’s through-ball into the box for Lampard. Ball goes back to Cech, and he takes his time with it. Little early for the time-wasting, isn’t it?
60′ Wright Phillips works on Cole down the right flank, and he wins a corner for his troubles. He sends it into the box, but it doesn’t clear the first man. Wright Phillips tries to get past Lampard, but he loses it badly and Chelsea have a chance. They break, but Zabaleta does a great job to knock it out for a throw. City could have been in big trouble there.
59′ Richards makes a threatening run down the right flank, but Cole is there with a hard challenge. Richards wants the foul, but the ref rules that Cole got the ball.
58′ Elano does his best Cristiano Ronaldo and his free kick goes into the wall. What a waste.
57′ Robinho tries a shot from distance after receiving a pass across the box from Elano. It comes off Cole for a corner. This is City’s first corner, which pretty much tells you all you need to know about this match. Chelsea clear the corner away, but Terry gives up a foul on Elano and they’ll have a good chance from the edge of the box.
54′ City will make a change as Caicedo will come off for Evans. Caicedo has been rubbish today, so it’s addition by subtraction for City.
53′ Robinho gives it away cheaply and Chelsea have another counter-attack. Essien gets it from Lampard, and he cuts across to his right. He tries a shot from the edge of the box, but it’s just wide of the post .
52′ Wright-Phillips does a good job to cut out the long pass, but he gives it away. Chelsea on the break and Drogba gets an excellent through-ball from Bosingwa in the box. He’s through on goal, but Given makes a great save to keep it out! Wow! Drogba looked destined to score there.
51′ Drogba sends it to Essien inside the box, and it looks like it may have come of Dunne’s hand. No call from the ref, though.
49′ Lampard and Drogba play a nice one-two on the edge of the box, and Lampard nearly puts it through to Drogba, however the City defense is ready this time and kick it away. Chelsea come back and Anelka turns and fires a shot from the right edge of the box that curls just wide of the far post. That was close.
47′ Essien with a clever ball through to Drogba, and he looks like he’s through. Onuoha and Dunne combine to make the challenge and Drogba goes down in the box, looking for the penalty. He won’t get it, though, as it looks like Onuoha got the ball with his challenge.
46′ City kick off and we’re underway! Looks like Deco felt a twinge in his hamstring, which was why he went off in the first half.
It’s all Chelsea so far, as they’ve outplayed City in all facets of the game. They’ve dominated possession and have had all the meaningful chances thus far. City have yet to get out of second gear and have not looked close to scoring. Moreover, City’s best playmakers, Wright-Phillips and Robinho, have been neutralized by the Chelsea defense. City need to put some pressure on Chelsea’s defense. Otherwise, this one could get out of hand, especially if Chelsea go looking for a second or third goal.
45′ + 1 Ireland takes it away and he makes a great run towards the City box. He lays it off to Caicedo, but his first touch is poor and Terry takes it away. There’s the whistle and we’re at halftime! See you in the second half!
45′ Cole gets away with a pretty clear leg whip on Richards and is lucky not to have been booked. One minute of added time.
43′ Promising buildup by City gets short-circuited as Caicedo gives it away. Who would have thought that they would miss Bellamy so much?
41′ Belletti looks like he’ll be coming on for Deco. He doesn’t look injured, but he heads directly to the training room.
39′ Good football from Chelsea as Lampard gets it in the box and he sends a high cross that Essien really gets some good hangtime on. His header goes over the bar, though, but it was a nice effort.
38′ Robinho’s ball takes a ricochet off a couple defenders and he has a chance in the box. He tries to cross it to the far post, but Bosingwa clears it from danger.
36′ City with the buildup along the edges of the Chelsea box. However, Elano’s cross from the left wing is cut out by Cech. Chelsea come back and Lampard sends it through with a backheel to Drogba. He gets closed down well by Richards, and he uses the backheel to send it back to Ballack. He has the entire goal to shoot at since Given had come out to close down Drogba, but Dunne does well to put Ballack under pressure. He shoots it and it goes over the crossbar!
34′ On the replay, the Anelka play looks a lot softer than I had thought. I guess it was a good no-call.
32′ Lampard with a beautiful reverse pass through to Anelka. He gets taken down in the box by Onuoha, and I’m surprised that there was no penalty given as it looked like Onuoha had a good part of Anelka’s shrit in his hands.
31′ Essien does great work down the right wing and wins a corner off Ireland. Let’s see if City’s set play defending has improved. Lampard’s corner gets knocked out to Essien, who is at the edge of the box. He tries a long-range shot, but it’s well off the mark.
29′ Elano gets booked for a foul on Ballack, and that’s just retaliation for earlier. Stupid foul, though.
26′ Ballack and Elano get into it, as Ballack tries to do the quick free kick. Ballack tries it again and it looks like Riley lets it go, however Robinho intercepts it and looks like he could generate a decent counterattack until Riley stops it so that Ballack can take a THIRD free kick. Why? I don’t know. Anyway, Robinho is angry. He and Ballack get into it and Robinho has some choice words for the German skipper. Let’s just say that he wasn’t wishing Ballack luck and happiness.
25′ Deco trips Richards, and he goes flying and lands with a thud. Richards is okay, though, so it’s not a big deal.
24′ Almost a chance for City as Bridge makes the run down the left and he sends a cross to the edge of the box for Caicedo He has Ireland behind him, but Caicedo takes the shot himself and he’s well wide of the post. Should have done better with that.
21′ Chelsea on the attack again, but Drogba is down in the box. He looks like he’ll be okay, though.
20′ On the replay, it looks like Zabaleta was the culprit. He left Essien alone in the box and couldn’t recover in time to mark him when Lampard’s pass came in. Not a good sign for City, who are relying on Zabaleta to sit in front of the defense by himself.
18′ GOAL! Terrible defending from City as Lampard sends a low pass into the box for an unmarked Essien, and he does a fantastic job hitting it on the bounce and easily beats a stunned Given! What a great touch from a player whose known more for his defensive skills!
17′ Anelka is fouled by Ireland from about 40 yards out. Probably too far for Lampard to do much with it.
15′ Lampard sends in the corner from the left flag to the center of the box, and Carvalho gets his head on it. He can’t get it on target, though, and it’s out for a goal kick.
14′ Nice passing from Chelsea as Essien flicks it to Anelka, who then sends it through to Drogba. Onuoha has to knock it away for a corner before Drogba can be through on goal. Quick corner catches City off guard and Lampard has a chance from the left edge of the box. His shot is knocked out for another corner.
13′ Deco plays it through to Drogba, and he gets greeted with a hard, but clean tackle from Dunne.
11′ Robinho gets it on the left edge of the box, and he’s roundly booed by the Stamford Bridge faithful. Why? He wanted to come to Chelsea. It wasn’t his fault that Chelsea jumped the gun and printed those “Robinho” shirts, which caused Real Madrid to sell him to City out of spite. He puts it through to Bridge, but he’s flagged offside. Looks like both teams are having problems timing their runs forward.
9′ Essien gets away from Ireland and he makes a run towards the City box. His pass to Lampard gets cut out, though, and City counterattack. Bridge with a poor pass that goes behind Elano and Chelsea have a counter-counter-attack. They send it long to Anelka, but he’s ruled offside. Looked close, but correct.
8′ Bosingwa has the unibrow thing going for him. He looks like a muppet.
7′ Ireland with a nice lob into the box for Richards. He sends it back to Caicedo, who tries to bend it in from the edge of the box, but it’s well off-target.
5′ Deco with a nice through-ball from the left wing to Cole, but Wright-Phillips does well to cut it out. Roman Abramovich is in the house, sitting next to a really hot woman. What a shocker!
4′ Bridge tries to play it through to Robinho, but he’s flagged offside.
2′ Some disorder in the City defense and the ball falls to Bosingwa on the right wing. He sends it back to Essien, who holds it a little too long before sending it forward to Lampard. He puts it past Given, but he’s flagged offside.
1′ Chelsea kicks off and we’re underway! Mike Riley is our ref.
0′ This marks my 100th article with Soccerlens. Join us at halftime as Ahmed and David Beckham will present me with a golden cap!
0′ I’m watching this on Setanta Broadband. If you want to read about their service, feel free to consult our guide on watching football online. You can also catch this on Veetle.com. Read this article on watching live football for info about using that service.
0′ I remember when I covered the first Man City/Chelsea match and everyone was about to jump on the Man City bandwagon. Things looked great when Robinho stepped up and buried that free kick in the opening minutes of the game to give City the lead. Chelsea came back, though, and won handily. The moral? Rome wasn’t built in a day. City would be wise to remember that as they keep bidding ridiculous amounts of money for players like Kaka, Buffon, and Silva, only to be turned down every time.
0′ For City, I can’t really believe that they’re in 10th place with a chance to jump to eighth with a win here. With the way they were struggling a few months ago, I would have thought that they’d be fighting to avoid relegation. As it is, they’re only 6 points clear of the drop zone, which only tells you how crazy this season has been.
0′ It’ll be interesting to see how Ballack finishes this season. If he does well, then maybe he’ll stick around with Chelsea after all. If not, then he’s probably headed back to Germany. It’s too bad, since I’ve always enjoyed watching him play.
0′ I wonder how John Obi Mikel is feeling. He’s been the holding midfielder all year with Essien’s absence, and he did a pretty good job. Sure, there were times he was less than stellar, and he definitely made his share of mistakes, but overall he did well in the role. Now Essien comes back and takes his job away. I guess that’s football for you.
0′ While not as compelling as yesterday’s Liverpool/Manchester United match, today’s match is very important, especially for Chelsea. Liverpool’s win made things interesting once again, and the title race is no longer a foregone conclusion. It’s up to Chelsea, however, to decide if it’s going to be a three horse race or a two horse race.
0′ Hello everyone and welcome to Soccerlens’ live coverage of the Manchester City vs. Chelsea match! I’m Victor and I’ll be your liveblogger.
If there were ever a 4-0 match disguised as a 1-0 squeaker, then this was it. Chelsea dominated from start to finish and City were never in this match. Robinho and Wright Phillips were invisible as City didn’t generate one single meaningful chance on goal. Cech, who’s had an up-and-down year, more or less had the afternoon off, while Drogba, Anelka, Lampard, Ballack, and Essien pretty much did what they wanted to do except score multiple goals. Chelsea seem much more organized and happy under Hiddink, and they could definitely be a force to be reckoned with down the stretch. Of course, if Drogba is out for an extended period of time, then that could really throw a monkey-wrench into their plans.
As for City, it’s hard to take much away from this match other than the fact that they didn’t get blown out by four or five. Their defense had some shaky moments, but Dunne and Onuoha did a serviceable job in the center while Bridge played well on the left. Their offense was nonexistent as they were thoroughly dominated in midfield and their difference makers didn’t show up. Still, they shouldn’t be too devastated by this loss, since this was always going to be a difficult fixture for them.
Man of the Match:
Maybe the reason why Chelsea struggled right before Hiddink came aboard was because they didn’t have Essien healthy. He looked like he hasn’t lost a step as he was all over the pitch, making great plays and holding up the City attack (such as it was). He also showed his skill at scoring as he did a great job putting in Lampard’s pass in the first half, and had a couple other chances during the course of the match. Lampard also had a good game, pulling the strings in midfield and doing a good job setting up Drogba and Anelka for scoring chances. Ballack also played well and clearly got under City’s skill with his mouth as much as with his skills. For City, it was slim pickings, but Bridge played well in his return to the Bridge. He clearly outplayed the hard-living and trouble-seeking Ashley Cole, raising some questions about Chelsea kept the right left-back.