Writer: Tranmere Loyal
Date:Sunday March 20 2011
A disappointing afternoon's work really. After holding out for nearly 80 minutes, City finally surrendered as Chelsea struck twice in twelve to add to the end of season spice.
Mancini set City up not to concede but with relatively little ambition up front. The one common statistic from matches like this so far this season, when we are set up for comfort rather than speed is...Manchester City 0.
And so it proved today. Having said that we seemed to get off on the front foot, though cautious to retain the ball.
With Dzeko as the lone challenger up top City posed little threat to the accomplished defenders at the other end of the field. Terry looked untroubled and Luiz looked the business carrying on where Carvalho left off.
A loaded midfield was in place to deny Chelsea space and for much of the match this worked. It could be seen from an early stage that despite Yaya Toure going close, City would not offer any expanse to their game and that it would dwindle into one of those performances we have come to tolerate but not really admire.
With Yaya's shot not finding the net that was the end of the City threat today. Chelsea patiently probed and patiently stuck to their task in expectation of a win at some point against a battle-weary City shorn of Carlos Tevez through injury and for some ridiculous reason finding a place in the squad for Balotelli.
There were some positives. Another outstanding performance by de Jong, some improvement from Kolarov and Milner starting on return to duty from injury. That we do not get more from him is a constant source of irritation to me.
The back line looked solid enough although there were one or two scares as players got caught out of position as Chelsea tried to counter from the midfield melee. They did give away too many free kicks in and around the box, but in the main dealt with this adequately.
However as the game looked headed for 0-0 one free kick too many, a needless one by Richards in a very safe place, gave Chelsea a free delivery into the box. Up went Luiz, down went Kompany, Kolarov didn't jump and the ball went in off Hart's outstretched hand. That was that. We hadn't looked like scoring all afternoon and the introduction of the Clown Prince was hardly going to change that.
Johnson couldn't get clear, nothing happened up front but as we pressed from midfield as the 90th minute approached a superb piece of work by Ramires showed City how quick movement opens up defences. He scattered our defenders like wheelie bins, and tired ones at that, to create space for an excellent shot beyond Hart.
With Spurs having dropped points this was an opportunity for City to widen the gap. Instead Chelsea hopped above us and back into contention for the title, leaving City heading for the annual showdown with Spurs for 4th place and who knows what for this extravagant management team?
Today, Hart looked untoubled except for the goals. Richards was doing well until the needless free kick, Kompany and Lescott fought hard and were winning their battles, Kolarov seemed to improve in defence but his crossing was again suspect.
In midfield, Milner didn't do enough. He should have Tevez appetite when CT isn't there. He hasn't got that. Yaya tried to push forward but was subject to wayward passing and not putting down his marker. Barry and de Jong held the middle, the former solid, the latter excellent. Silva tried hard once again but nothing really went his way either.
Dzeko was brave enough and worked hard but he needs to be quicker and more decisive. He was too slow to select his shot when his one chance came his way.
At least one of the 'typical City' tags fell by the wayside today. Wasn't it a banker that Torres would open his scoring account today? Well he didn't.
Date:Sunday March 20 2011
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