The Ped Report City 2-0 Chelsea
Cold rain was the welcoming force at Fortress Etihad today as the teams lined-up for the second time in twelve days for another heavyweight contest between the nation's leading football clubs.
Both teams had to make changes, with Pellegrini not making the mistakes of risking the likes of Richards, preferring the dependable Zabaleta and Clichy on the corners, and restoring Lescott alongside Kompany in the centres. Ahead of them Garcia, returning from injury, was preferred with Milner replacing Navas out right to counteract the effect of Hazard who was rampant in the recent meeting in the Barclays Premier League. Yaya and the Magician, Silva made up the rest of the midfield with Jovetic and Dzeko up top in the absence of the Mighty Atom, Aguero and the Beast who is still recovering from a shoulder injury.
In the other dugout, Mouthy Mourinho, who we once found amusing but who we now find distasteful and a pain in a dark place, tinkered with his side but still played all of his big guns although Terry had to sit this one out and Mikel was for some reason allowed a match in midfield. Matic and Ramires were to provide the thuggery along with Luiz with Hazard making up a five-man midfield leaving the ageing Eto'o to plough a lone furrow up front.
City set off on the front foot and in a manner that was absent in the recent league meeting and Chelsea didn't see the ball in the early exchanges. The sky Blues mixed up play sitting in deep when they had to and breaking rapidly as play developed. The right hand side looked solid with Milner ahead of Zabaleta and the left looked mobile with Clichy getting forward at will and Silva at his majestic, magical best.
Everything Chelsea tried down the middle found Garcia breaking them down and if they tried Hazard, he was stopped on the inside by Milner and the outside by Zaba. Garcia's inclusion allowed Yaya to play fifteen yards further up the field and he quickly showed the difference in his football when he plays as a supplementary attacker rather than a deep sitting defensive midfielder.
Without the organisation of Terry, Chelsea's defence was up for grabs as they failed to master the lively Jovetic and even a resurgent Dzeko who for once grafted all night even though he did adorn the seating decks with most of his goal attempts, rather than the back of the net.
With a dozen minutes on the clock Yaya drove into the Chelsea cover like a Rugby League second row forward scattering everyone in his wake. His well struck shot was only parried by Cech and although Jovetic was on the rebound in a flash his shot hit the bar and went over. This was however his equivalent of an Aguero sighter as in the next attack Silva played an excellent pass into the path of Dzeko who was in a position that normally tempts him with a shot that ends up in level two. Out of the corner of his eye he spotted Jovetic in space, played him in and the Montenegrin's early strike went in off the inside of the post, with the entire defence on the wrong foot. The cheers from the Blue Mooners could have negated the need for cranes to lift the South Stand roof to facilitate the stadium expension.
After that Chelsea never looked in the hunt as everything they tried hit a brick wall. Regular readers of the Ped Report will be all too well aware of my scathing attacks on Garcia ahead of his injury but I had to eat my words and withdraw his nickname as his game improved almost beyond belief. Today he put in his best yet performance for City easily snuffing out anything and everything that the London Blues tried to get going through the middle. Indeed it was Chelsea who looked like lollipop men as they moved from side to side and making no headway back to front. Their only shot of the first half finished up in block 116, which was amazing when you consider that the keep net was kept in for today's match.
City missed four clear chances to increase the score especially as Cech looked unsure and spilled a couple of shots into an area where Aguero or Negredo would have been sniffing, but with Dzeko hovering as usual at the edge of the box, he got away with it.
After the break Mourinho removed Eto'o who had done precisely nothing and moved Hazard into the middle to get him out of the clutches of Milner and Zabaleta. This did little more than sentence him to the clutches of Lescott and Kompany and even Mourinho as the "master tactician who knows how to win" scratched his head in the technical area.
Jovetic had caused the Chelsea back line problems all night but looked remarkably silly on the hour when he bounced off Luiz and plunged to the floor. He was yellow carded for his trouble and rightly so. I dislike the prospect of City gaining a diver, but when I looked at the match again this evening found it quite hilarious that the TV commentator Clown Tyldesley was slagging him off when his beloved Stretford Sub-Aqua FC, formerly known as Manchester United have captured the market in terms of ridiculous divers especially Young who spends most of his time on the grass. There are others in the ManUre shirts who try to con referees week-in-week-out.
Immediately he was tugged by Pellegrini and was replaced by the returning-from-injury Nasri. And which Nasri would we see? Would it be a tentative Nasri, nursing what could have been a season-threatening injury or would it be the Nasri we had seen up until then, devastating and dangerous?
The answer came within seven minutes during which he had already looked in control of his form. On 68 minutes he drove into the Chelsea cover, played a delicious pass into Silva who taunted the Chelsea defence before returning the compliment into Nasri's path for him to slot into the net to close off the match and zip Mourinho's mouth firmly shut.
The City fans couldn't disguise their glee as they serenaded the ghastly Chelsea manager with the hymnal "Jose Mourinho, your football is shite" (Can I say that in these pages?) (YES in this context -Ed).
City closed the game out easily, with Chelsea hardly visiting City's end of the field as their 6000 fans were more reminiscent of the Emirates Library rather than the gobshites that usually emanate from west London. City could have added to the scoreline, but 2-0 was more flattering for Chelsea who were well out of this match, no doubt in Mourinho's mind due to the postponement of the midweek match against Sunderland. Surely Mourinho wouldn't have given two hoots if spectators had been killed by low-flying programme seller rapid retail units if it helped his team. Indeed he reported as much when interviewed on talkRubbish after the match. The more I see of this individual the more I detest him. I would probably prefer to see Ferguson back than follow the daily chronicles of this ghastly creature.
The manner in which he spoke of Arsene Wenger this week makes me for once side with Arsenal, and Gooner fans know I don't do that. It was despicable and lacked class. But he lacks class anyway. The reason he doesn't last five minutes in his jobs is because his employers learn very quickly that they can't stand him. They take the odd trophy then offer him the exit door. He takes it and repeats the process. What a balloon!
His shortcomings were highlighted today by the Silent Engineer, his adversary for a number of years who sent 6000 Chelsea fans back down the M6 with their tails firmly between their legs and their mouths superglued shut.
City's back line was majestic and replacement goal tender Pantililmon had nothing to do at all. In midfield, even with Garcia they were more mobile and with Yaya further forward, the Chelsea contingent offered precisely zero. Their back four couldn't cope with the combination of Silva, Jovetic and even Dzeko. The introduction of Nasri was the icing on the cake as Cahill chased his tail and Luiz looked what he is...rubbish.
That Silva only played for 70 minutes and was voted man-of-the-match said it all. He was devastating. You know as well as I do that the Sunday Redtops won't eulogise over Silva in the same way as the dailies did for Hazard twelve days ago, but make no mistake, the Magician might have been kept under wraps by a three-man delegation in the league match, today he found space and hurt Chelsea all evening.
No doubt also the wonders of Wapping will seek to heap pressure on City by claiming that they are still in contention for an unprecedented quadruple of trophies. Well guess what..they are. With Stretford having a week in the sun because their chances of a trophy this season are nil and Arsenal's season about to endure its annual implosion, Manchester City are flying the nation's flag this season. Chelsea will test City all the way in the title race. They have an easy run-in, something overlooked by the Town Cryer of the Kings Road and if City do end up as champions then they deserve it.
Silverware is heading to the Etihad this season. Chelsea for their part will have to concentrate on the league.
Barcelona are the next visitors to the Etihad in the Champions League on Tuesday. They hammered Madrid's fourth team, Rayo Vallecano 6-0 on Saturday night highlighting the fact that the best thing to come out of Valleco is "the Beast", one Alvaro Negredo. I find it astonishing that this weekend's ManUre Evening News reporter suggested that he had to prove himself against Soldado, Torres and Villa if he wants to get to the World Cup in Brazil. Come on, Mr Robson, get real. Soldado can only score penalties, Torres is...useless and Villa, well I like Villa and said last season he would have been a good buy as a back-up striker. That would have been good business on the basis that when he played for Valencia many of his goals were set up by David Silva.
That would have been a mouth-watering prospect at the Etihad. It is also one which Spain can enjoy in the World Cup but for me the best Spanish centre forward in terms of all round play in a very hard league is a no-brainer. And the Beast will continue to prove that over the remainder of the season and be there to offer Europe's best chance of winning the World Cup long after Hodgson's United-based idiots minus Gareth Barry, have flown home.
UPCOMING DATES FOR YOUR FILOFAX:
all times East Manchester GMT
Tu 18Feb 19h45 FC Barcelona, CLR16
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Su 02Mar 14h00 Sunderland, Wembley, LCF
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Tu 25Mar 19h45 The Stretfords, the swamp, PL
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