Well that didn’t go entirely to plan, but then as we know from the Mourinho years, when a team sits back and defends for all their life is worth, it’s always difficult to break down.
There were times we attacked and City had no less than six players back, often seven with the three mid-fielders sat in front of their back four.
Anti-football? Maybe, but with over £250,000,000 spent on a team, you’d think they’d want to attack a little more, especially at home.
That said, City had their game plan and executed it almost to perfection with De Jong and Toure playing particularly well in the middle, both overpowering and snuffing out the threat of Essien and Ramires.
Malouda wasn’t able to get in behind the defence, likewise Anelka on the other wing, and Drogba didn’t have one of his better games, looking disinterested at best, only to be replaced by Sturridge later on, who seems to be lacking in confidence.
The referee didn’t help matters, continuing what seems to be a policy with our opponents lately in that, every infringement we make no matter how small is penalised, whilst our opponents are allowed to kick lumps out of us.
With a very physical mid-field set up to destroy, and without Lampard to make us tick, or even someone like Benayoun able to unlock a defence, it was always going to be a tough ask against a team who in truth, only had two real opportunities to score, and took one of them.
The shots off/on target statistics told the story, with Chelsea in double figures on the former, but less than City on the latter. It’s not that we didn’t have the chances, it’s that we didn’t take them, with Ivanovic, Alex and Essien all winning headers they could and should have scored from.
This was, many said, our first real test, decrying our earlier results against teams that ‘the experts’ obviously didn’t rate. These ‘weaker’ teams have gone on to show their no pushovers, with West Brom beating Arsenal, West Ham holding Spurs, and United also held by Bolton. There are no easy games in this league.
Ancelotti spoke after the match stating; “We wanted to play better, obviously because we didn’t play how we wanted, we saw the power of Man City in midfield; we lost a lot of possession and were not able to play the football we wanted.”
The Italian added; “We gave the ball to them and gave them the opportunity to score on the counter-attack. We maintain the top of the table but we lost this time. That was not a good performance as a team and so for this reason every player did not have a performance which was their best. As a team we didn’t play well.”
He concluded; “It is difficult to judge this team after one defeat. We lost one game but our moment is very good, we are doing very well. It was not a good day but this team has a very good mentality.”
Because of these results elsewhere we’re still top of the league by three points, and now have the monkey of a 100% record off our shoulders, expect a reaction against Marseilles, and more importantly, against Arsenal at Stamford Bridge next weekend.
Chelsea (4-3-3): Cech; Ivanovic, Alex, Terry (c), Cole; Essien, Mikel (Zhirkov 68), Ramires (McEachran 80); Anelka, Drogba (Sturridge 74), Malouda.