The Ped Report Chelsea 2-1 City
Stamford Bridge was today set for the real clash of the titans as big spenders Chelsea and City went head-to-head in the biggest match of the season so far. And what an outcome it turned out to be.
This week's dice shuffle by Pellegrini saw him load the midfield by leaving out danger man Negredo and putting Garcia in front of the back four alongside Fernadinho. Yaya was detailed to be the link with Aguero, with Silva and Nasri to provide the skills. Demichelis got his first start in central defence alongside Nastasic. Predictably Zabaleta and Clichy occupied the full back berths.
Chelsea saw a lot of the ball for the first few minutes then City got into their stride. Much of the play though was in and through midfield with nothing really happening in either danger area. For the most part it was played in the middle third but at least nearer to Chelsea's goal than City's.
Time and again Silva drove the attack to the edge of the box but with only Aguero foraging up front it was difficult to see where a goal might come from as Chelsea closed ranks in numbers and blocked off all the usual through routes that Silva carves out.
In midfield it was becoming a titanic tussle but the new found confidence of Torres was Chelsea's only light up front. On the field, their 12th man Howard Cristiano Wayne Webb followed his usual trait of giving City nothing and pandering to the whims of his new assistant, John Terry.
Once Fat Frank was booked after about 21 minutes, the very next foul committed by City saw the Assistant Ref in royal blue invite Webb to get into his pocket, and he duly did as he was told.
On the half hour as the game was opening up Torres beat the offside trap, got fully clear and steered the ball over the top. Two minutes later he fell like a tree under pressure from Nastasic who once again committed a needless foul. This kept City under pressure and the Chelsea fans in voice and it was inevitable that a goal must come, even though City had had most of the play.
And it duly arrived after 33 minutes when Torres from deep took on Clichy down the right. Clichy was a yard too slow and rolling like a wheelie bin allowed Torres around the corner. Nastasic turned his back as Torres drilled a daisy cutter along the six yard line to find Schurrle unattended at the far post having bamboozled new man Demichelis with his in-out run. Schurrle is the man on everyone's lips, especially when they've had a few because the pronunciation sounds like someone being sick, but the only ones sick in this incident were City's defence who almost switched off en-bloc to allow him to stab home the first goal.
After this City were rocking a little especially when from a safe position Torres cut inside Zabaleta and from nowhere flashed an unstoppable shot against the bar. Chelsea were now on the front foot and seeking blood, especially in midfield where anything seemed to go especially where Ramires was concerned. City's task was to get to half time with no further damage and they achieved this and in fact had chances themselves from Yaya, who looked at last to be setting his sights.
Almost as soon as the second half started, we could see City trying to continue this and with 48 minutes on the clock a straight line move saw Silva combine with Nasri who in turn played in the Mighty Atom. Aguero tuned like lightning and hammered home the equaliser beating Cech at the near post.
The game started to open up now and chances started to appear at both ends with the blocking and tackling in midfield coming thick and fast. As usual if City blocked, the player was cautioned (Garcia) and if a Chelsea player did the identical thing, he wasn't.
Some strange decisions by Webb once again raised the tempo for Chelsea invited time and again to load the City penalty area in the same was as Cardiff had earlier this season and with the quality that they have on board you cannot continue to do that.
As the game started to reach its crescendo just about everybody in Stamford Bridge was settling for the inevitable draw. The game was creeping towards 4 minutes of stoppage time when an almost panic clearance by Terry headed toward the edge of City's box. Nastasic looked to have it all under control, but Torres had gambled and Nastasic had not seen Hart for some inexplicable reason come haring out of his goal into no man's land. The pair of them were certainly struck dumb as Nastasic headed the ball over Hart and towards his own goal. Torres was round everyone in a flash and tapped it home just ahead of the late-arriving Zabaleta.
A dream ending for Chelsea but a nightmare for City. And it begs the question once again as to Hart's concentration. There is no doubt at all that both teams would have accepted 1-1 here. If Hart would've stayed even 10 yards from his goal he would have got to the headed backpass first. But here his ridiculous positioning presented the winner to a much maligned footballer who today simply never gave up. It was that very persistence that saw Mourinho's men over the finish line with three points in the bag and unbelievably City with nothing. Quite how Eto'o didn't get a card for his very first involvement remains one of life's mysteries. But he was very tactile towards Mr Webb so that made it all right.
This was a testing match for City in a stadium that generally gives them nothing. But they were every bit as good as their hosts except for the 10 minutes around Chelsea's first goal. City did not deserve that second goal against but once again the uncertainty caused by chopping and changing centre backs was prevalent. Demichelis in fairness had a good game, except for falling for the bait when Chelsea opened the scoring. Nastasic looked to be doing well also only giving away 2 needless free kicks today.
Zabaleta, having been booked by John Terry in the first half had to behave for the rest of the match and did so despite putting in some earth shattering tackles. On the left City had problems. Having been outpaced by Torres, Clichy looked shaky for pretty much the rest of the match to the extent that Pellegrini pulled off Garcia and sent on Kolarov as cover on the left.
Fernandinho and Yaya did well controlling much of the play, Yaya at last pushing further forward, Silva was magnificent, Nasri put in a shift and lone-star Aguero was simply Aguero. A man never deserving of being on a losing team.
At 1-1 going into stoppage time it was job done. Pellegrini had for me sent out a team to do the job, probably didn't look like winning, but not looking like losing. Mourinho lined his men up in similar fashion, but today the gods were smiling on the chosen one. City couldn't make it three away wins in a row, but hey there were days when winning two matches on the trot was like winning the Champions League to us Blues.
The Pedmachine, though very disappointed, cannot be upset at the level of performance today. But the manner in which the winning goal was presented was totally unreal...unless you are Torres of course. If you are a true predator, you keep running to see what happens and this paid off for him handsomely today. He was mobile in the box and forcing defenders to make decisions all the time and of course having the odd appointment with the grass if it suited him.
City are walking a title tight rope. Generally the title winner doesn't lose more than 5 matches and City have blown three so far although they are now looking more like competitors away from home. They will play worse than this and win matches this season, but how sick must they be feeling as the Pedmachine writes this? Probably not as sick as the Pedmachine!
Anyone fancy Pantilimon for Wednesday?
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