Writer: Andy Leggott
Date:Thursday December 29 2005
City of Manchester Stadium
It took Chelsea 259 minutes, but they finally managed to score past City during the Mourinho reign. On a bitterly cold night in Manchester, City fans were treated to the news that Lampard was missing from the Chelsea line up. An omen perhaps? Well strangely enough no, but when you can replace Lampard with Essien nothing more needs to be said.
In all honesty very little was expected from this fixture, with the usually optimistic me even predicting a 2-1 defeat for City. To be fair to City however they got their heads down and battled and were deserving of the draw at least.
Dunne came in for Sommeil with Cole returning for the unfit Reyna. Pearce juggled with his formation, moving Vassell out left and employing Sibierski just behind Cole to harrass the deep sitting Makelele. The first half produced little in the way of goal action, Barton forcing a save from Cech. Chelsea's first shot on goal saw Joe Cole making James save just before the break. The most noteworthy incident of the first half was the pathetic attempt at play acting from Chelsea forward, Drogba. From my position, behind the goal, there seemed no challenge made on him but the acting that followed was B movie at best and he was rightly given a talking to by referee Rennie as he returned comfortably to the field amid a chorus of boos. I must admit that this is one aspect of the game that is very prevalent in this Chelsea side, as good as they are, that is their ability to fall at every challenge and make a meal of it.
The second half followed a similar pattern as the first but as the game wore on City seemed to sit back, sensing a point, and allow Chelsea the freedom of the park to pass the ball around. The goal, when it came, wasn't a thing of beauty. Sun Jihai's poor attempt to clear rebounded into the path of Gudjohnsen who ran clear and shot at goal. The ball deflected off a City defender, forcing a great save out of James, but then fell to the unmarked Cole who finished with ease. City huffed and puffed in an attempt to get back into the game but Chelsea were happy with their lot, bringing on Ferreira for Gudjohnson and shutting up shop.
All in all not a bad effort by the blues but still some way short off what is required to push into the top six. Chelsea, without Lampard, were efficient but there for the taking. That we created as little as we did was down to the impressive Terry in the Chelsea defence but that tells its own tale. If the opposition central defender is dominant why oh why do we insist on pumping up the long ball?
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Date:Thursday December 29 2005
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