Manchester City 0-1 Chelsea
Chelsea proved that they are genuine title contenders by producing a tactical master-class last night against Manchester City, pressing at the right time and creating excellent counter attacking chances. They became the first team since Birmingham City back in November 2010 to stop City scoring in the league at home.
In the first twenty minutes of the game however, that feat seemed highly unlikely as city had a number of chances. Inside the first minute, a massive mix up between Cahill and Cech could have proved very costly, but Chelsea escaped. Negredo had a good chance but fired high over the bar with his left foot from an acute angle. An excellent move involving Negredo, Silva, and Toure led to Kolarov delivering a wonderful Cross, which Toure was inches from Converting. The giant Ivorian then had another shot sail just over the bar moments later, from a Navas cut back. Shortly after, David Silva had a golden chance to give City a deserved lead, after another excellent move involving Navas and Toure. The latter could have gone down under some minor contact but stayed on this feet to roll the ball in to Silva, who put it wide from inside the six yard box.
But after that bright first twenty minutes for City, Chelsea came into the game and dominated up to half time. Their first really good chance came when they stole the ball around the half way line and created a four on two breakaway, led by Willian. He had the option of Eto’o to his right or that of Ramires and Hazard to his left. He chose Ramires, who telegraphed his finish somewhat, thus allowing hart to make a fairly comfortable save. This was a massive let off for city.
However, Chelsea would not have to rue the miss for too long as they took the lead a few moments later. Hazard chased a hopeful punt up the line, used his body well to shield the ball, turned inside and found an excellent pass infield. The Belgian maestro then continued his run from left to right, where he would again receive possession, this time in the right channel, where he cut the ball back to Ramires. He should have taken the chance first time but took a touch and allowed Kompany to make a great block. Just as another chance appeared lost, the ball fell to Ivanovic who let fly with a stunning effort into the far corner leaving England goalkeeper Hart helpless.
Chelsea very nearly doubled their lead just before the break, when the increasingly impressive Hazard was once again at the heart of everything, skipping past Zabaleta and playing a ball through the six yard box, just out of the reach of teammate Willian. The ball fell to Eto’o, who hit the crossbar from a tight angle. The half time whistle sounded with Chelsea full value for their lead, and Pellegrini presumably looking for answers.
The second half started as the first ended with Hazard sparkling, cutting in from left to right and beating numerous city players, before releasing Ivanovic. His cross was parried away by the determined Hart. City very nearly levelled after good play on the right. Dzeko laid the ball off to Toure, who shot inches wide of the far post with Cech well beaten. This seemed only to warn Chelsea of the danger that City pose. The London blues subsequently went very close to doubling their lead when Matic unleashed a incredible strike that came back off the angle of post and bar.
Matic – who was excellent throughout – had a tremendous run moments later, feeding Ramires. The Brazilian’s pass was cut out at the very last moment by Kompany. Chelsea had yet another chance to create a cushion between the two sides when the excellent Cahill had a great header come back off the post from a corner.
Chelsea had now missed a lot of chances to kill off City and hit the woodwork multiple times. That should have proved very costly, when first Dzeko and then Silva missed great chances to level. Dzeko’s chance came after great work by Navas and Zabaleta on the right. The ball was cut back on a plate for the big striker who dragged his right foot shot wide. Silva missed a similar chance after a wonderful pick out by Kolarov. The slight Spaniard was under pressure from his compatriot Azpilicueta. City grew increasingly frustrated as they could not find a goal, until the ref called time on the game. Mourinho had once again got the better of Pellegrini. Just two points now separate Arsenal, City, and Chelsea – an incredible climax to the season awaits. I CAN’T WAIT.
Thanks a lot for reading,