Match in a sentence
After poor performances midweek in Europe, Chelsea and Manchester City failed to live up to expectations, as they provided us with a DULL game.
- Roberto Mancini started the game with four at the back in his traditional 4-2-3-1, with Sergio Aguero playing in behind Edin Dzeko. Captain Vincent Kompany was fit enough to start after picking up a knock midweek, and James Milner made his return to Mancini’s XI.
- In Rafa Benitez’s first match as interim manager, he opted to stick with the 4-2-3-1, but unlike Di Matteo in midweek, he introduced Fernando Torres in the XI. Also David Luiz and Branislav Ivanovic started at centre back with Cesar Azpilicueta at right back.
- With Roman Abramovich in attendance, fans around the stadium chanted, “There’s one Di Matteo” several times. There were multiple boo’s/malicious chants directed at Rafa, as well as chants for Ashley Cole to stay. At the 16th minute mark, fans stood to their feet and began clapping and chanting “There’s only one Di Matteo’ again in honour of the former Chelsea manager who wore the #16 jersey during his playing days at Chelsea.
- Although Benitez selected practically the same players as Di Matteo would, there were a few changes that should be pointed out. Chelsea was much more compact, with Ramires sitting deeper helping Mikel protect the back four. Ramires tends to take the ball and drive forward, but he was disciplined against City. It was also clear that David Luiz was less adventurous, and whenever he did go forward with the ball both Mikel and Ramires covered for him.
- The trident of Oscar, Hazard and Mata was much better defensively. Mata and Hazard dropped deeper to help out the full backs, whereas Oscar, and at times Torres, dropped deep to nullify Gareth Barry and Yaya Toure.
- Chelsea often looked like a 4-5-1 and at times a 4-4-2 when defending, and it stifled City as they struggled to create chances. The downside to Rafa’s compact set-up was that Chelsea didn’t really offer anything going forward as they recorded one shot on target.
- City struggled to create any real goal scoring opportunities and like Chelsea lacked quality going forward. Both sides gave away possession at ease, but unlike Chelsea, City was looking to dictate the game.
- James Milner swapped flanks numerous times in the game looking to overload Chelsea’s fullbacks, but was unable to create danger. Milner did do a good job in helping his fullbacks Pablo Zabaleta and Aleksandar Kolarov against Chelsea’s creative players.
- City had a few chances in the first half to take the lead as Zabaleta was able to break forward with Silva playing so narrow, but unfortunately nothing came from those chances.
- Chelsea were a bit better in the second half stringing together passes and forcing City to make mistakes, but apart from Torres’ half chance and Cole’s long distance drive Chelsea didn’t offer much going forward.
- Apart from the Chelsea fans chants earlier on in the match, the clash between the English and European champions was pretty poor. With the amount of top players on the pitch, the game lacked quality. Despite controlling possession and creating more scoring opportunities, City weren’t good enough. They should have won the game, but they might be content with a draw at Stamford Bridge.
- Chelsea picked up their first clean sheet since October 2nd, and it seems evident that Benitez has already had an effect on the team. Yes, they weren’t great forward, but Chelsea looked organized and disciplined defensively which is a plus. The Blues sacrificed their offensive threat, but in return were solid at the back. Seeing as Rafa hasn’t been with the club for more than a week, he’ll be more than happy with the result.
1. Vincent Kompany
2. James Milner
3. Branislav Ivanovic