The Ped Report Chelsea 2-3 City
Twelve months and one day ago, the Community Shield was a tin pot pre-season friendly with a meaning of nothing. Twelve months ago, it progressed into becoming a "trophy," largely because it was the only piece of silverware that found its way to Stretford. No doubt this year it will return to the sanctity of a meaningless friendly relegated from Wembley to Villa Park. Indeed did not winning scorer Nani last year refer to the Community Shield as "the first title of the season"?
The Pedmachine set off early in a minibus to savour the delights on offer in the West Midlands. Sunshine was abundant as we left the Etihad, to be replaced by heavy rain as kick-off approached.
As expected, Mancini continued the experiment of three at the back with wing backs detailed to press Chelsea higher up the field and in the early exchanges this proved to be quite a success for City's tactician-in-chief. Savic, Kompany and the evergreen Zabaleta were given the task of protecting Costel Pantilimon's goal, with de Jong sitting just in front.
Milner and Kolarov provided the width, Yaya played in the centre of midfield with Nasri, leaving the Argentino Attack of Tevez and Aguero up top. At times Nasri also pushed forward to create a three-pronged attack as Mancini varied from 3-5-2 to 3-4-3 at times.
And with that City looked quite devastating as they pulled Chelsea all over the field with possession stats exceeding 60%.. Indeed Edin Hazard looked totally lost in the midfield whirlwind stirred up by Yaya and Nasri, the energy of a remodelled Milner and the direct running and challenging of Kolarov.
However, as often happens it was somewhat against the run of play when a weak cross from Cole was headed out by Kompany, but only straight to Ramires, with the cover slow to react. His neat pass into the extra space caused by three at the back found Torres who neatly clipped the ball past Pantilimon and into the net.
This seemed to shake City up as for all of their possession they hadn't really threatened the Chelsea posts. Kolarov was getting some space down the left and Ivanovic clearly didn't like that and a scything two-footed uncontrolled assassination attempt saw the Chelsea man correctly admonished with a red card. Terry and his pack as usual surrounded the referee, but as you would expect there was no joy and once again, Chelsea were short-handed.
They got themselves to half-time still in front, but the post half-time period is not a place to be against City when you only have ten men. I recall a team from Stretford discovering that last season.
The second half saw Clichy introduced for Savic and the back line had an altogether more sound structure to it as City set off in search of a leveller. It duly arrived in what I lovingly call "City time", seven minutes into the second half, from what is in important matches a regular source.
A scorching move down the right saw Milner get into space behind Cole. His dangerous cross was fielded by Terry who slipped in the process, the ball then finding Yaya, with most of the Chelsea team guarding their goal. There looked nothing on for Yaya except a postage stamp in the bottom right hand corner and with pinpoint accuracy he duly found the spot beyond the despairing efforts of Cech to put City level.
This lit the blue touch paper and for seven minutes we were treated to the delight of the day from a resurgent slimmed-down Tevez. And what a goal this was! Again City attacked down the left with Kolarov slipping a neat short pass to Tevez. He sank his shoulder to try to open up the Chelsea defence at the corner of the penalty area but the channel was closed down. Tevez continued his run, but the next channel also closed. Not to be outdone, he shook off the attention of Luiz, found space head on to the goal and from the edge of the box sent a howitzer into the top corner leaving Cech rooted.
Villa Park went mental and rose to this extraordinary goal as Tevez displayed his "Fuerte Apache" undershirt to the world.
Chelsea didn't like this and they also didn't like the fact that five minutes later they were once again on the receiving end of another neat move down the left. Once again Kolarov made the telling pass right into Nasri who cleverly used the pace of the ball to guide it beyond Cech with ease.
This was the signal for Chelsea to revert to the Chopper Harris days and with Ivanovic already in the showers, they could have found themselves reduced to eight if Mr Friend hadn't been their friend as the match drew to a close. Lampard could easily have walked the walk for two sad challenges, Terry could have joined him for his poor demeanour, constantly badgering the referee. Cole seemed to be getting away with murder as he time and again offered lean tackles and quite how Ramires who deliberately blocked off David Silva who would have been clean through on goal with Cech stranded upfield didn't find his way to the dressing room remains a mystery.
With ten minutes to go the game looked in the bag for City. Chelsea's threat looked to have evaporated and there looked to be no real danger as Sturridge was forced away from the penalty area into no-man's land. However, his smart turn and one-two saw him unleash a dipping shot which caught Pantilimon by surprise. He made the save but like Given and Hart at times before him couldn't get the ball to safety and it was ca plane pour City as Plastic Bertrand slotted home for Chelsea to make it 3-2. Ramires and Bertrand wanted the ball back but the giant that is Pantilimon decided it was his and it was almost comical watching Bertrand who clearly thinks he is now famous after his work in the Olympics, try to retrieve the ball. He did push Costel right in front of the referee and was lucky also not to see a red card, with Mr Friend settling for a yellow each.
There was still time for Silva and Aguero to go close with Sergio missing a chance I think he would have taken had it been next week. There was still also time for more controversy as Cech appeared in City's box for a corner. The ball was cleared to Silva on half-way one-on-one against Ramires, the only Chelsea player in sight. The Magician slipped the ball past him into the space and if he had managed to get past the Chelsea player his next touch would have seen him shoot for goal unattended. Needless to say the Ramires took the law into his own hands, bundled Silva over and got away with it.
City looked neat and tidy all over the field. And this was without Balotelli, Richards, Hart, Lescott and Barry. Milner looks to be heading for his renaissance, Tevez and Aguero look like razors and Yaya looks commanding. The back line has been a bit mix and match in pre-season as Mancini looks for solutions caused the lack of purchase power, but there are some signs that they are emerging. Pantilimon, until his howler has looked good.
So once again we can look forward to an interesting season, which has started where last season finished..with a trophy in the cabinet!
One disappointment was that Kolo saw fit to toss his medal into the North Stand Lower, probably in protest to not getting selected. Maybe that's a signal that he might not be around soon.
But to top it all, the early season lyrical offering goes something like this:
"You thought it was yours, you thought it was yours,
We heard you stop singing, when Ser-g-io scored!"
In the meantime, fed up of the bitterness rife on sites like the MUEN?
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all times East Manchester
Su 19 Aug 15h00 Southampton, The Etihad, PL
Sa 25 Aug 15h00 Liverpool, Anfield, PL
Sa 01 Sep 17h30 QPR, The Etihad, PL
Sa 15 Sep 15h00 Stoke, The Britannia Stadium, PL
Su 23 Sep 16h00 Arsenal, The Etihad, PL
Sa 29 Sep 15h00 Fulham, Craven Cottage, PL
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FIXTURES:
The draw for the 2012/13 Champions League Group Stage will take place in Monaco on Thursday, 30th August. The opening round of games will kick off in the week commencing Monday, 17th September.
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