The Ped Report - City 1-0 Chelsea
City proved once again that they can live with the 'big boys' at the Premier League feast.
Unbeaten, scoring 4 or 5 a match and hardly conceding anything Chelsea were not only favourites to win a match coming close on the heels of Carling Cup debacles for both teams, but even in the words of our own manager, for the Premier League title.
Were these mind games or a genuine respect for a manger and a team that has set off like a runaway train?
Yesterday it was a train that hit the buffers and became derailed by a manager and a team that produced a masterclass in how to stop Chelsea.
For the third time in succession the league leaders were put to the sword by a City team that knew exactly which buttons to push at exactly the right time.
Unlike the time when we beat Chelsea with Anelka's first minute penalty, this was no fluke. This was not against any run of play and there certainly was no siege mentality from the team in Sky Blue.
Setting his team out precisely as I predicted on Friday, Mancini had clearly instructed them to deny space to Drogba, cut the supply off from the most potent left side in the Premier League (Cole and Malouda) and sit on Essien.
Mission accomplished. Boyata and Silva kept the side door shut, Drogba couldn't shake off Kompany and De Jong was simply sensational in giving nothing to Essien.
With considerable possession in the first half Chelsea time and again found themselves filtered into the ara containing De Jong, Barry and Yaya Toure and once in simply couldn't wriggle out. City generally won the ball and got it out to the wings quickly, where Milner was strong and quick and Silva much more robust than onlookers thought he could be.
The result was that City found space, City attacked, City scored and City looked like scoring again.
Drogba was starved of the ball and never got a look-in. Essien was reduced to shooting from anywhere and Malouda and Cole were frustrated time and again by the 19-year old veteran that is Dedryck Boyata.
I saw this young man play as soon as he arrived at City and immediately thought 'there's something there with this kid'. We saw this when he was forced to play just after Mancini arrived and I said at the time that once Kolo was back from the African Cup of Nations, he should try Boyata at right back instead of Richards.
I have noticed that on occasions Boyata has played at right back for the Elite Development Squad and could therefore see this day starting to arrive. Well yesterday it did..big style.
Boyata had the air of an established international right back, intelligently working in tandem with Toure, covering and interchanging almost telepathically.
On the other side, despite having his hands full with Drogba, Kompany was simply brilliant especially for a player who does not consider himelf to be a centre back.
Zabaleta was just....Zabaleta. Hard tackling, resolute, tenacious.
If teams can't score against you , you can't lose. Simples. That is where we are headed with our team and our tactics. We shield the penalty area and prevent the oppostion from scoring. We then move out quickly, breaking from deep in classic counter-attacking style. How classic was our goal? Milner moves it out quickly to Yaya, on to Tevez, still in his own half. Defenders high up the field backed-off, especially Terry and Cole, sprinkle in Silva's cross field run to add confusion and the door was prised open for Tevez to celebrate his mum's birthday by squeezing an intelligent shot through Cole's legs and in off the post.
Behind all of this did Joe Hart have anything to do?
Our team has proved once again that we can be top four material. We have beaten the top team in the land and in a manner that looked as though we would score a second rather than them equalising. Once we stop dropping stupid points and start dropping Richards we will make our way to the top.
Great to see Boateng's cameo and I hope he stays fit.
Next up Juventus then Newcastle. We can win both of these and if we do then we can start thinking once again of some sort of silverware and take away the out-of-Carling Cup blues.
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