Writer: Tranmere Loyal
Date:Tuesday December 13 2011
City went with their big guns at Stamford Bridge, clearly out seek to win on a ground that has not generally favoured them in the past.
Full of confidence following recent results the Blues set off in typical fashion dominating play from the off with their exquisite brand of football and were completely dominant for the first half hour.
In the first major attack City scored. A cute precise pass from Augero found Balotelli who had stretched the central defenders, and who cut inside, rounded Cech to present the ball into an empty net. A dream start from the Blues and surely a springboard for more?
A few minutes later, more superb work by Aguero from another neat pass from Silva opened the door for him. He dragged defenders all over the place but his final left foot shot dragged wide with Cech stranded. Aguero should have gone for the far post in text book style and it would have been 2-0
Shortly thereafter, on 15 minutes, a neat one-two between Balotelli and Silva opened the way for the Magician who was abruptly taken down by Bosingwa in the box and right in front of the referee, who cocked a blind one at a definite penalty kick. Clearly 2-0 at this point would have put a spoke in Chelsea`s challenge but somehow Clattenburg said "no". A major decision which the referee bottled. Surely if there was a suspicion of non-contact then Silva would have been up for a yellow? Replays show definite contact.
For the remainder of the opening 30 minutes it was one way traffic. City were a total joy and scintillating to watch. Silva was on the ball and his interchanges with Milner, Yaya and Aguero were fantastic to behold. Having said that the tackling particularly by Ramires, if you could call his brand of execution tackles, could have seen him gone early in the first half in view of at least 3 challenges all of which were worthy of a yellow card. But as we know Clattenburg generally shows a reluctance to shorten teams against City and generally doesn`t show a reluctance to shorten City. This despite his dismissal of Evans in the Derby. Yaya was prowling about like either an enforcer or a thug with a series of poor fouls on Mata amongst others all of which could have had Clattenburg going into his top pocket. So he was maybe generous on that hand but on the other took away a match-defining penalty offering.
However as the Pedmachine tells you every week, City give you a chance and so they did on 33 minutes and Clichy let City old young boy Sturridge get clear on the Chelsea right. His early cross found Meireles unmarked and his first time shot beat Hart in what was their first attack and shot of the first half.
It was a huge disappointment for City who looked in total charge and Chelsea didn`t look equipped to change the game in their favour. But the goal was a gift and the London Blues will have been delighted to get to the break on level terms.
After the break Chelsea did start to change the game with City inviting pressure through unnecessary fouls in dangerous areas. Inevitably yellow cards rained like the weather and in the first minute of the second half Gael Clichy was cautioned for such a foul on Sturridge.
A little while later another foul from Clichy this time on Ramires, who should have seen the exit door in the first half, ended up with City becoming short-handed and handing Chelsea an advantage as they started to get on the front foot. The stage was set for Lampard to return from temporary exile and turn the screw on City.
A neat turn inside again by Sturridge saw his shot connect with Lescott`s outstretched arm handing a gift of a decision to Clattenburg and he certainly seemed to point to the spot with some relish. Up stepped Lampard, having missed his last 2, and this time he simply hammered it down the middle as Hart went for one of the corners.
Mancini shuffled the pack to try to add some stability and introduced Kolo by sacrificing a disappointed Aguero and then de Jong for Barry.
There was still time in hand and City pressed forward accepting that at times they were leaving the door open. They couldn`t make the breakthrough as Chelsea beefed up their challenges. City were also guilty of giving away time wasting opportunity with unnecessary fouls and corners and throw-ins most of which were won by Drogba who is particularly strong in those situations. Frustration was breaking out all over the field for City. Mario was thrashing his arms around like a demented windmill as things refused to go his way. Yaya was in similar mode and even Zabaleta, a man who would die for the shirt showed concern that each decision went with Drogba.
The last throw of the dice was to replace Silva with Dzeko and with Silva went City`s real chance of getting anything from this match and their historic start to the season was now over.
If the equalising gift brought Chelsea back into the match, the dismissal of Clichy turned it their way. Shortly before that Kompany could have seen himself walking, going in from behind when there was no real danger. Both of Clichy`s challenged were not warranted, but the punishments were inevitable.
As we saw when we whacked United 6-1, it is difficult in these top of the table matches to find yourself with only 10 men on the field and I feel that for this reason City couldn`t get back on an even keel. Chelsea didn`t stretch City like City stretched United, nor did City get over-run, but an equaliser looked just over the horizon at every turn.
So despite 4 minutes of stoppage time, Chelsea managed to run down the clock and hold out for a memorable win and to open up the chase for the title. No doubt there will be smirking in Stretford as they can be restored to league leaders by the time the sky blue shirts are donned again. We really are starting to get down to business now aren`t we?
Let us not be dispirited. The opening half hour was sensational football by City, some of the best seen from the best team of the season so far. But as the chances come along, especially away at Chelsea they have to be taken. Has Aguero made it 2-0 and Silva been handed a nailed on penalty, that would have been that. But it doesn`t always go that way. You give a chance and they take it and the match changes completely as it did here.
There were some good performances. Kompany at the back, two poor fouls apart hardly put a foot wrong. Milner and Silva in midfield were superb and the Balotelli-Aguero axis up front was giving the creaking John Terry nightmares. He would have more than happy to see the back of the Argentino.
It remains to be said that City`s first league defeat of the season was in a match where Joe Hart hardly saw the ball and had very little to do. Does that not emphasise the Pedmachine`s machinations that City always give opponents a chance. We are going through a stage where league clean sheets are just not happening, and that needs to be addressed. If the opposition don`t score, they don`t beat City. And who looks as though they can hold City goalless? A great effort by Gareth Barry who was my man of the match for City.
That said the frustrations that started boiling over show that City has a team of winners who treat defeat as an affront. They will re-group for the next match against Arsenal and get the show back on track.
Date:Tuesday December 13 2011
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