Saturday, 27 February 2010

Chelsea 2 - 4 City

  • Before the game I was hoping that a brave performance in defeat could just give us the momentum to finish fourth. But to win, and win like that, might just be transformative. And not just for the last eleven games of the season either. This could well be the match that makes the Mancini era - because this is a staggering result. This was our first goal at Stamford Bridge since 2000, our first league win there since 1983. Equally it was Chelsea's first league defeat of the season, and - I haven't checked this, by the way - their third in six years.
  • We've been here before though: we beat Chelsea at home in December, thought that it was our Mark Robins moment, and yet Mark Hughes was out within the month. But this was a masterclass in management from Mancini; I have never seen a team deploy a gameplan as effectively as we did today. It's easy enough to know and to say that the way to beat Chelsea is to defend deep and sensibly, and then to hit them on the break, but to do it is something else.
  • The first part of the game plan was to keep Chelsea out, defending deep, with ten men behind the ball. Chelsea are a good side but they're not as good as breaking down well-organised defences as Arsenal or Manchester United. For the most part it worked; the shadow training looked to have paid off as we were exceptionally well arranged throughout. But when Lampard was put through by Joe Cole and scored past Given it looked as if the plan was in tatters.
  • Thank god, then, for Carlos Tévez. It was his goal just before half time that transformed the game. Had we gone into the break 1-0 down I'm sure we would have lost. But he spun away from Terry, jinked past Carvalho and scored our equaliser. It was echt Tévez: relying on all his reserves of strength, footwork, audacity and tenacity. But it revealed the truth of our plan: that Chelsea's back four was slow, that Hilário was poor, and that space in behind to counter-attack into. The second goal was a perfect display of this - Barry released Bellamy down the left, who surged past Mikel and finished well. The third goal came from an uncharacteristic burst of pace from Barry down the same channel, and the fourth was from a quick break against nine tired men.
  • Defending a three goal lead against nine men is something that even Manchester City can do. Putting on Roque Santa Cruz for Wayne Bridge allowed a change to 4-4-2, and even with a Frank Lampard penalty we closed the game out. No one should underestimate what a momentum-generating result this might be. Before yesterday fourth was in our hands, but I never thought that we would actually take it. Now I think we might.
  • Finally, a personal perspective. I was there yesterday and can safely say that it was my best experience as a City fan, eclipsing this, this, and the 5-2 win over Spurs in 1994. To see three thrilling goals from counter attacks - at a ground where we hadn't scored since 2000 - right down in front of us in the Andrés Iniesta end was an experience I don't think I'll ever match again. Although Champions League football at Eastlands might change that.


John said...

First time we've done the double over Chelsea since 1957.

Thomas said...

well jpb you pretty much summed it up a week ago ( i think) Without tevez and bellamy we can play as well as we like, but cant score, we are desperate for their goals!

richard said...

When was the last time Chelsea conceded 4 at home?