Manchester City (Robinho 13′) 1-3 Chelsea (Carvalho 16′, Lampard 53′, Anelka 70′)
Stadium: City of Manchester Stadium
Date: Saturday 13 September 2008
Competition: English Premier League
Kickoff: 17:30 BST, 12:30 ET
Chelsea defeated Manchester City, 3-1, in the Billionaires Derby. Soccerlens had the action live! Click below for the live blog.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one. A billionaire oligarch, who made his fortune in the oil industry (and – depending on whom you believe – other, slightly less legal means) buys an English football club and goes on a spending spree, targeting all the best available players while vowing to eventually acquire the best players that aren’t currently available. His nonchalant spending and unapologetic arrogance anger the football establishment and turns him into a lightning rod of criticism. However, his promise of trophies and glory make him a folk hero with his new club’s supporters.
Sound familiar? That was Roman Abramovich’s story. However, those words could very well have described Sulaiman Al-Fahim, the new Chairman of Manchester City. After purchasing the club from embattled former Thailand Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Al-Fahim wasted little time in splurging for some new toys. He brazenly tried to steal Dimitar Berbatov, who looked bagged and ticketed to go to Manchester United. He made bids on Mario Gomez and David Villa. He then shocked the world by acquiring Robinho, who desperately wanted to go to Chelsea, but ultimately decided that even Manchester City was better than staying at Real Madrid. Add that to Shinawatra’s earlier spending spree, which netted them Jo, Shaun Wright-Phillips, and Vincent Kompany, and Manchester City already looks like a potential top-4 club in the Premiership.
Anyway, much like Abramovich, Al-Fahim has vowed to turn Manchester City into a desirable location for the world’s top players. He’s already targeted Cesc Fabregas, Leo Messi, Kaká, Fernando Torres, Ruud Van Nistelrooy, David Villa, and Lukas Podolski, and he’s announced that he’s willing to pay £134 million for Cristiano Ronaldo. Apparently, he’s determined to make Real Madrid’s Galacticos program look like an exercise in frugality.
As for Chelsea, despite their strong start, they face a number of fitness questions regarding several of their key players. Michael Essien has suffered a serious knee injury and will miss the rest of the season and Michael Ballack has been sidelined with an ankle injury and will miss this match. Joe Cole took a nasty elbow to the side of his head during England’s midweek clash with Croatia, and Frank Lampard has been playing on a sore thigh. Didier Drogba is in line to play against City, but probably won’t go the distance. They sold Shaun Wright-Phillips thinking that they would get Robinho. Now, both of those guys will line up for Manchester City. Funny how things work out, huh?
Manchester City: Hart, Zabaleta, Richards, Dunne (captain), Ball, Hamman, Kompany, Wright-Phillips, Robinho, Ireland, Jo.
Subs: Schmeichel, Ben-Haim, Garrido, Fernandes, Evans, Elano, Sturridge
Man City are expected to start out in a 4-2-3-1 with Jo as the lone man up front. Robinho, as expected, will debut (hopefully, he realizes that he plays for City and not Chelsea) alongside Wright-Phillips and Ireland in midfield. Hamman and Kompany will sit in front of the defense.
Chelsea: Cech, Bosingwa, Carvalho, Terry (captain), A. Cole, Mikel Obi, J. Cole, Deco, Lampard, Malouda, Anelka.
Subs: Hilario, Ivanovic, Belletti, Alex, Bridge, Kalou, Drogba.
As expected, there will be no Ballack for Chelsea. The big news is that Drogba will be available as a sub. Joe Cole seems to have recovered from his head wound against Croatia to start. Mikel Obi and Malouda will start in midfield as Belletti heads to the bench.
Thanks to everyone who tuned in. I’ll be back on Tuesday for the Champions League.
90′ + 3 They play it short on the corner and Belletti wastes some more time before City finally get it. There’s the whistle and it’s over!
90′ + 2 Chelsea are content to run out the clock. Lampard gives it to Ashley Cole, and they look like they’re debating over whether to attack. Finally, Cole takes the shot and Hart has to deflect it out for the corner.
90′ + 1 Drogba has a breakaway opportunity, but Zabaleta makes the tackle. Drogba clearly doesn’t have his pace back yet. Back the other way as City has a great chance as Sturridge makes a wonderful move in the box and goes for the shot. It’s deflected out for the corner, and City waste another corner.
90′ Poor corner as City take forever to set up. Seems like they’ve already quit playing.
89′ Ireland with a good long-pass to Jo. Alex knocks it out for the corner.
88′ Robinho with the poor touch on the pass that leads to yet another giveaway. Mark Hughes is going to have to work with him.
86′ Kompany’s pass is a poor one that Alex knocks away to Drogba. Drogba looks like he might be free and clear, but Dunne fouls him from behind. Drogba hadn’t established possession of it yet, otherwise Dunne might have joined Terry on the sidelines.
85′ Robinho with another sloppy pass that goes behind Zabaleta. No question Robinho’s talented. He could use some seasoning, though. Jo sends it back to Kompany, but his pass back is intercepted by Chelsea.
84′ Sturridge comes on for Ball. Let’s see what the youngster can do.
83′ Ireland makes a great move into the box and finds Ball on the edge of the box. Ball takes the shot, and it’s a weak one that Cech handles easily. Ireland probably should have shot that one, but he probably lacks confidence right now.
81′ The show the replay of the Terry foul. Carvalho had a good three or four steps on Jo. No way that was a red. Dangerous cross into the box towards Robinho, but Chelsea clear it.
80′ Ireland’s shot from long range is well off target. He’s been missing his shots left and right today.
79′ Anelka will come off for Alex as Chelsea make the defensive substitution.
78′ Free kick for Man City. Dunne sends it in to the box. Robinho gives it back to Kompany on the edge of the box, but Kompany’s shot is blocked.
77′ Deco gives it away and Jo makes a break for the goal. Terry clearly fouls him to stop him and Terry gets the red. Carvalho had the angle on Jo, and you could argue he was covering the play, so it should have been a yellow only. Same thing happened in the Man Utd. match where Vidic was beaten, but Ferdinand was covering the play, so he only got a yellow. Either way, no Vidic and no Terry for the match next week.
75′ Long-range pass to Robinho, but he can’t handle it. City looks like they’ve run out of steam.
74′ Zabaleta sends in a good cross towards Jo. He’s facing away from goal, though, and his header is weak and easily handled by Cech.
73′ Wait a minute, I forgot Anelka scored his first league goal for Chelsea during the opener against Pompey. Sorry. Ireland makes the run down the left flank, but Carvalho knocks it out for the corner. Ireland sends in the corner, but Cech intercepts it.
71′ Joe Cole and Malouda are off and Belletti and Drogba are on.
70′ GOAL! Anelka finally breaks through for Chelsea as he gets a great through-ball from Joe Cole. Anelka splits the defense and easily puts it away. It’s about time. He only cost 17 million.
69′ Robinho gets called for the foul on Bosingwa. He voices his displeasure.
68′ Drogba still has his warmups on and it looks like it will be Belletti coming in instead. Lampard sends in a great cross that finds Malouda on the left side of the box. His header goes out for the goal kick. Malouda’s wasted a lot of chances today.
66′ Joe Cole sends it to Anelka on the edge of the box. Anelka lays it back to Lampard, who gets a running start and unleashes a rocket that is right at Joe Hart for the save. He hit that one really hard.
65′ Man City take the corner and it goes back out to Ireland. He goes for the shot again, as he wants to redeem himself. No dice, though, as his shot is into the stands for a goal kick.
64′ SWP makes a great move into the box and leaves Carvalho flat-footed. SWP sends it to a wide-open Ireland, which draws Cech out. Carvalho recovers, though, and deflects it out for the corner. That was a game-saver right there.
63′ SWP sends it back to Zabaleta, who tries the long-range shot. Let’s be diplomatic and say that shooting isn’t his strong suit.
62′ Hamman is off and Gelson is on. Looks like City are going on the offensive (as they should).
61′ Ashley Cole makes the run and his cross is knocked out for the corner. They show the replay on the earlier no-call on Richards, and it’s clear that Richards was beaten by Anelka. Richards brazenly shoved Anelka to the ground. On the corner, Anelka heads it out for the goalkick.
60′ Lampard sends in a great cross to Anelka. Richards takes it away and Anelka goes down. I thought it looked like a penalty, but ref says play on.
58′ Anelka makes a move on the edge of the box and looks to shoot. He changes his mind, though, and lays it off to Malouda. Malouda tries to center it to Lampard, but he’s called off-sides. Not sure about that one.
57′ Mikel (who’s been awful today) gives it away, and Jo sends it to Wright-Phillips. Jo’s pass doesn’t have enough pace, though, and SWP can’t get the shot off. Bosingwa eventually clears it.
54′ Ireland gets it on the edge of the box. He’s open, but he chooses to pass it to SWP. SWP’s shot is knocked out of bounds for the corner. Nothing doing on the corner.
53′ GOAL! Joe Cole sends it to Lampard, who sends it to Malouda. Malouda gives it back to Lampard, and he makes a great move in the box and scores!
52′ Robinho tries the fancy pass to Zabaleta, but it’s long and it goes out for the goal kick. Again, keep it simple, Robinho.
50′ Joe Cole tries the long-range shot. It’s deflected right towards Lampard, who is front of the goal. He tries the shot, but it’s over the bar. Lampard thinks Dunne deflected it out, but the ref disagrees. The Respect campaign seems to be working. Chelsea have been remarkably well-behaved today. Usually, four or five Chelsea guys would be working over the ref after that.
49′ Good tackle by Wright-Phillips on Bosingwa. He’s called for the foul, though, and Mark Hughes is upset. Questionable call, but, in all fairness, SWP’s arm was dangerously close to Bosingwa’s nether-regions.
47′ Robinho again with the stepovers. He gives it away. Maybe you should cut out the hotdogging, Robinho.
46′ Deco sends a long pass to Joe Cole, who saves it from going out and lifts a nice cross to Malouda, who tries to head it to Anelka. Richards intercepts it, and springs Wright-Phillips. SWP makes a great run towards the goal, but Terry knocks it out for a throw. Hamman tries the shot from long-range, but Cech saves it easily.
46′ Chelsea kick off and we’re underway! Going back to the Robinho goal, I don’t know why Cech was so angry with Terry and the wall. That ball was always going in. They could have put Shaq, Yao Ming, Hulk Hogan, and Peter Crouch on that wall, and it still would have gone in.
Man City had everything going there way, but Chelsea stormed back and snatched the momentum. They had several opportunities to take the lead, but couldn’t convert. Man City have a lot to be happy about, but it’s clear that Chelsea played better as the half went on. Still, it’s been an entertaining match with some excellent football being played on both sides. Hopefully, the second half will be just as good.
45′ + 1 Ashley Cole tries the long-range shot and it’s just over the bar. He struck it well, but it was just long. There’s the whistle and we’re at halftime.
45′ One minute will be added. Lampard and Joe Cole tried the one-two, but Cole gives it away.
44′ Wright-Phillips with some fancy moves to get away from Mikel and then Deco. Mikel then comes back and kicks Wright-Phillips in the leg, drawing the yellow card. Great half from SWP so far. Where was this when he was playing for Chelsea?
42′ Lampard’s cross goes right to Zabaleta. However, his clearance is terrible and goes right to Anelka. Anelka has a golden opportunity, but he can’t take advantage of the gift. His shot is saved by Hart.
41′ Deco’s corner goes right to Hart, who handles it easily. Chelsea back on the attack as Anelka sends a dangerous cross into the box for Malouda. Malouda heads it on target, but it’s wide of the far post.
40′ Deco on the attack. He sends it to Malouda, who’s cross is knocked out for a throw. Good battle between A. Cole and Wright-Phillips as Cole beats him off the dribble, but Wright-Phillips recovers and knocks it out of bounds to concede the corner.
38′ Lull in the action as Man City knock it around a little bit. Chelsea take it away and they look to build up their attack. Malouda is called offsides, and there goes that buildup.
37′ Malouda is fouled by Zabaleta. Bosingwa floats a cross into the box, but Hart gets it.
35′ Ashley Cole with a dangerous cross that bounces clear across the Man City goal. City has to knock it away for a corner. Nothing doing on the corner.
33′ Robinho loses the ball, but Wright-Phillips pounces on the loose ball. He plays Jo through, and he’s got a clear shot on goal. Cech does well to cut off the angle, though, and he has to go high. The shot gets deflected away for a corner.
32′ Robinho does some more Cristiano Ronaldo-esque stepovers. This time, he gets flattened, much to the delight of the Chelsea contingent.
31′ Jo makes a strong run into the box, he seems to catch Carvalho overplaying him, but Carvalho recovers and makes the clean tackle. Nice play from Carvalho. It won’t show up on the stat sheet, but that could have saved a goal since Jo had open space in front of him.
28′ Deco with a great pass that finds Anelka deep in the box. Anelka has to give it back because he can’t do anything with it. Deco then lifts a beautiful cross that Malouda heads on target. He easily beats Hart, but hits the crossbar. Wow. Should be 2-1.
27′ Robinho with another great move as he goes through Ashley Cole’s legs. That’s just showing off.
26′ Malouda’s long-range effort is well off-target.
25′ Malouda is fouled and Lampard has a free kick from about 30 yards out. His service into the box is a good one, as Joe Cole nearly gets his bandaged head on it. It’s just long, though, and Hart takes it.
24′ Jo with the nice back-heel that finds Ireland, who’s streaking towards the box. His shot is over the bar, and he probably should have done better.
23′ Lampard with a nice long-cross that finds Bosingwa deep down the left flank. He makes a great move to create space on Ball and then sends in a great cross towards Anelka. His header is off target, and Anelka really should have done better. I bet Chelsea fans are praying for Drogba to get back in the starting lineup.
21′ Bad giveaway from Richards and Anelka tries the long-range shot that is well off the mark.
20′ Robinho makes a good run towards the Chelsea goal, but Chelsea’s defense is up to it this time.
19′ Bosingwa plays the through-ball to Lampard deep in the box. Lampard is looking for a teammate, and he gives it away after no help arrives.
18′ Jo wins a corner for his club. Wright-Phillips sends it in, but Carvalho knocks it away. Malouda has a great opportunity on the breakaway, but Zabalata impedes him. No foul, though.
16′ GOAL! Corner for Chelsea as Bosingwa lifts an enticing cross into the box towards Anelka, and Hart is caught out of position. Wright Phillips has to knock it out for the corner. On the corner, Carvalho heads it to an unmarked Joe Cole, who has a clear shot. Cole isn’t ready for it and it bounces back to Carvalho, who then rockets a shot past Hart. Well, that’s a great way to answer.
15′ Chelsea now have a free kick from about 30 yards out or so as Deco gets fouled. Weird sequence as Lampard jumps over the ball and Malouda thinks Lampard touched it, so he dribbles it and takes the shot. Chelsea look a little shell-shocked.
13′ GOAL! After much dilly-dallying, Robinho finally takes it and strikes a fantastic shot that beats Cech easily. Can’t make a better first impression than that. Cech is angry and is yelling at Terry. Hmm…
12′ Who will take it for City? Robinho? Jo? Looks like Robinho.
11′ Ireland sends it into the box for Wright-Phillips. He lays it back to Jo, who gets fouled on the edge of the box by Carvalho. Great chance for City here.
10′ Malouda sends it to Lampard, who tries the long-range shot from well outside the box. Hart handles it easily.
9′ Ireland sends it to Robinho, who tries the fancy pass, but it’s taken away by Chelsea. Deco is fouled by Kompany.
8′ Wright-Phillips sends it into the box, but it’s cleared away by Chelsea.
7′ Zabaleta’s cross is knocked out by A. Cole for a corner.
6′ Bosingwa makes the run down the right and he tries to thread the pass deep into the box for J. Cole (who’s sporting the head bandage). It’s knocked away for the throw.
5′ Robinho shows off a little as he gets the ball in midfield, gets away from two defenders, and does a little stepover on the edge of the box. He lays it off to Wright-Phillips, but the shot is wide.
4′ Good chance for City as Zabaleta sends in the pass to Jo. Jo tries to play it to, either Robinho or Wright-Phillips, but Carvalho clears it.
3′ Nice bit of trivia: the last Man City player to score against Chelsea? Nicholas Anelka.
2′ Cech is wearing his bright orange kit that makes him look like a creamsickle. Hart’s kit is florescent green. Apparently, these keepers are stuck in the 80’s.
1′ City kick off and we’re underway! Robinho gets his first touch as he makes a run down midfield. His pass is off the mark, though, and he has his first official Premiership turnover.
0′ Here they come out of the tunnel. Luckily for Man City, Robinho lines up with his Man City teammates.
0′ One thing I love about Fox Soccer Channel: the ubiquitous commercials for Kick-Medic with U.S. national midfielder, Leslie Osborne. What a hottie. She’s no Heather Mitts, but she’s up there.
0′ No truth to the rumors that Manchester City are spending billions on a procedure that will allow them to clone younger versions of Pele, Maradona, and Beckenbauer. I can’t confirm or deny the rumor that they’re looking into finding a passage to an alternate universe so they can acquire Alan Smith’s evil twin (who led the Mirror Premier League in goals last season).
0′ Welcome to the Billionaires Derby (I was going to go with “Abu” Derby, but that doesn’t really make sense) as Man City take on their new rivals, Chelsea.
Manchester City splashed the cash and talked a good game. They might well be a power in the Premiership sooner rather than later. However, Chelsea reminded everyone that they’re still a cut above the upstarts from the northwest. City had their moments. Robinho’s free kick was world class and showed everyone what all the fuss was about. If he improves some other aspects of his game, then he may become one of the best players in the world. Wright Phillips may have been the best player on the pitch as he worked tirelessly on both sides of the ball. In two matches, he has looked more dangerous than at any point during his Chelsea tenure. Jo had his moments and Ireland worked hard (even though he missed many shots). Even though they lost, they have a lot to happy about, especially considering how badly they’ve played in recent years against Chelsea. They’ll have work to do, but Mark Hughes has to like what he has on his hands.
As for Chelsea, what can you say? They played very well on both sides of the ball and looked like they could very well be the team to beat this year. They had moments where they played the kind of sparkling football that Abramovich and Co. have been pushing for. They also had moments where they played the kind of grind-it-out football that may not be pretty, but wins matches. Joe Cole and Lampard played well together, and generated a number of great chances. Carvalho was the rock in defense, and Anelka even got on the scoreboard. Can’t ask for much more than that. Plus, the Chelsea players were remarkably well behaved as far as harassing the referee went, which is a pretty big shock, especially on that Terry red card. I guess Scolari has really instilled an attitude of professionalism and respect.
Man of the Match
Lampard had a great game, scoring the go-ahead goal and nearly scoring another one in the dying minutes of the match. Joe Cole also played well, setting up Anelka’s goal and helping to set up Lampard’s. Still, Carvalho deserves the honor. I’ve long said that John Terry is Chelsea’s second-best central defender, and Carvalho showed why. He made a number of great defense plays, including a game-saving block of Ireland’s shot despite having been shaken off by Wright-Phillips earlier in the play. His goal was also a thing of beauty.