“Chelsea are definitely going to win the league”. These were the thoughts of Manchester City manager, Roberto Mancini, before today`s crucial clash. Whether this was directed at Chelsea as a pressure builder or simply an assessment that looked extremely likely, Mancini`s words were echoed by many. However, as Chelsea`s opponents were being picked off with ease, this fixture was glaring out from the very beginning as their first real test to regain the Premier League Title. Manchester City ensured Chelsea`s test was as difficult as predicted, a wonderful solo goal from Carlos Tevez earned City a vital 1-0 victory over their title rivals.
As City flashed their cash and purchased some of the world`s top players, one phrase was always whispered in the background, Would City`s team gel? If City`s team does manage to gel early on into the campaign then teams like Chelsea are certainly going to worry. On the basis of today`s performance, the Champions have a right to be worried. This happened to be the third consecutive victory for City over the West Londoner`s and although the previous two didn`t hamper Chelsea`s title challenge, this victory could be pivotal to how the season unfolds. We have been put into the bracket of potential Champions, but it was becoming more apparent that these credentials need to be portrayed on a more consistent level.
Despite Mancini being lamented mid week for his team selection, this fixture was always going to justify whether what he did was a mistake or in fact clever management. Today, City were admirable, proving the City boss had in fact made a correct tactical decision.
Coming against a team with the power, flair and diversity of Chelsea was going to be a gruelling task, a task City performed with professionalism and togetherness. The Sky Blues were resolute, the tenacity and endeavour on show thwarted any possible chance Chelsea had to take the ascendency. Chelsea had their chances and it`s not very often a team of their stature will boast so much possession, yet fail to seize any opportunity, but the back five of Manchester City combined with the midfield defensive duo of Barry and De Jong , proved too demanding to shake, defensively we were exceptional.
The away side controlled the opening exchanges but failed to capitalise. Ivanovic saw his header cannon off the cross bar in the only chance of a cagey affair. As the game progressed it was evident that one goal for either side was likely to clinch a victory. Both defences were on top and City lacked a physical presence to hassle the boisterous Terry and Alex.
As intricate and dazzling to watch Silva, Milner and Tevez were, the game needed a monumental moment to set it alight. Cue, Carlos Tevez. The Argentine hit man has scored against Chelsea in every fixture for City and this clash was to prove to be no different. The captain was carrying his team forward and as he gathered the ball on half way he surged forward, his tenacity and sheer power guaranteed that Cole and Terry were far from confident to disposes the raging bulldog and with one sweet swing with the right foot he beat check, his cataclysmic efforts proved to be just enough.
Although one goal looked likely to settle the affair, the encounter was about 22 men desperate to battle each other. Chelsea`s pressure would have assured that most defences would have collapsed, but you could justifiably argue that Toure and Kompany are the outstanding partnership in the division, on numerous occasions they were first to the ball, battling, fighting for the victory.
Despite Chelsea`s array of talent, we were proving to be more than a match for their skill and team work. After today`s performance, City could rightly be thought of as title contenders, but with the inconsistencies far too frequent away from Eastland`s, more of the same heroics are needed.
Did everything he could to prevent Chelsea. Two great saves to deny Anelka and Ivanovic.
Performed exceptionally in a very high profile match. Covered so much grass on the right hand side and his tackling was brilliant.
Unbelievable, again. By far the most improved player this season. Might perform better without the added responsibility of captain.
Brilliant display. Great tackling and reading of the game, took a lot of pressure off us. Is there a better centre back partnership at the moment.
One rash tackle resulted in a booking but he was still as determined as Zaba always is. Robust and deadly in a 50-50 challenge.
Has added so much to his game since his arrival. His tough tackling and tenacity really raises the crowd.
Has slotted in so well next to DJ this year. Great vision and passing.
One run was remarkable. Sometimes looks too laboured but a good effort.
Much improved in the second half. Strong, industrious and clever.
His tackling was a suprising bonus to his game. Always looks dangerous on the ball.
Scored a wonder goal of a winner. Will always be a hero at City.
Didn’t affect the game. His first touch was long after his arrival. I still believe he should be starting most matches.
Didn’t do too bad when he came on. Needs to be more physical.
Not long on, but great to see him back.