The Manchester City juggernaut was brought to a shuddeing halt last night as Chelsea ripped up the Eastland’s club 100% home league record. Many had seen this game as a clash between the maverick goal-getters of City and the pragmatic approach of Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea. The game however did not turn out like that with the home team unable to live up to the hubris, and Chelsea creatng most chances, and hitting the post three times aside from the winning goal.
The announcement shortly before kick-off that Fernandinho would not be available probably gave Chelsea a psychological boost, but it’s difficult to percieve how the Brazilian would have turned the tide of midfield control that the Blues exerted so significantly. So often the powerhouse of Manchester City performances, Yaya Toure was pursued, harrassed and often robbed by the excellent Matic and Luiz patrolling the area just in front of the two centre backs. Stripped of this normal area of dominance, after a bright fifteen minute opening, City struggled to inflict their game plan on Mourinho’s well-drilled team.
The powerful pairing of Negrado and Dzeko never looked like gaining a dominance at the sharp end of City’s thrusts, and the ususally ebulliant Negredo, by this time totally subdued, was eventually substituted for Jovetic as Pellegrini sought a way to change the game.
Althoguh the game was, as always, won on the pitch, much of the success must must go down to Mourinho’s planning and preparation. Tactically, his organisation was astute, with the hard-working Ramires and Willian tirelessly chasing back to help out the defence when required, and even the mercurial Hazard finding time from his forward forays to drop back when necessary.
This game should not however, be painted as some ‘park to bus’ rearguard action by Chelsea. This was in no way akin to to the ‘backs to the wall’ approach deployed by West Ham in thier game at the Bridge. All bar the most disappointed of observers would accept that the better team won, as was accalimed by the Sky TV pair of Carragher and Neville. With Mourinho’s astute tactical acumen, the first class coach, had no need of parking the bus.
Had City triumphed, a march towards the title, would have beckoned with the odds on them becoming campions seemingly shortening day by day. This game however has broken that veneer of invincibility, and now with other teams taking confidence from the defeat of the title favourites, facing City may not seem as daunting. This league campaign has some way to run yet.
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