Chelsea took another step forwards in their collective rehabilitation of the seasons fortunes against Manchester City in the Premier League today, but it was the boys from Brazil, via Benfica, who were the stars of the show.
Chelsea lined up in their now almost standard 4-4-2 formation with Torres and Kalou leading the line, supported by a flat four of Ramires, Essien, Lampard and Malouda, whilst Ivanovic, Terry, Luiz and Cole made the back four in front of Cech.
City lost talisman Carlos Tevez earlier in the day to a late fitness test, so started with Dzeko up front, and Italian bad boy Mario Balotelli on the bench.
Chelsea started slowly, allowing City to take the initiative over the first five to ten minutes, with David Silva and Yaya Toure both trying their luck early on, however as the half started to settle it was Chelsea who became more comfortable in their play, with City seemingly happy to sit back and look to hit us on the break.
Kalou was looking especially dangerous and showed both quick feet and a sharp mind, having a go himself and laying on the ball for others in what was one of his better performances for some time. Malouda continued his erratic form, for reasons only known to himself there were a couple of occasions he should have played in Torres, but decided to go it alone, ultimately ruining the chance.
For all the good play though, and some of it was lovely to watch, especially with Lampard returning to the form of old, spreading play to both wings with first time balls, and Essien, Ramires, Cole and Ivanovic all getting into advanced positions, it wasn’t until the 41st minute of the first half that we got a shot on goal, which came after Malouda set up Kalou.
Half time came and went with no changes, and the game continued exactly how the first half had ended, with City happy to sit back in numbers and let Chelsea try to pick their way through. Malouda, Essien and Cole all tried with long range efforts and the attempts at playing Torres in were snuffed out. Increasingly the match looked to be heading for a stalemate.
With the clock approaching 70 minutes Torres made way for Drogba and Malouda was replaced by Anelka, with Ancelotti clearly going for goals. It was however the impressive Luiz who made the difference, twice in the space of a few moments.
Some Ronaldo like fancy footwork on the left wing saw Luiz fouled, Didier lined up the free kick and put a ball into the box that Luiz got onto the end of, and planted a header past Joe Hart to make it 1-0, crowning what had been a fantastic performance from the man who is quickly becoming firmly established as a fans favourite.
A few moments later Luiz almost made it two, nearly getting onto the end of a ball into the box, however it was left to another Brazilian, and one who supporters haven’t taken to nearly as quickly as Luiz, to seal the points.
Essien laid the ball into the path of Ramires, who danced his way into the box, getting past both Lescott and Kolarov, before drilling across Hart and into the far corner, a just reward from yet another impressive performance from the Brazilian, to make it 2-0 and put the result beyond doubt.
The result took us to third in the league, leapfrogging Manchester City and leaving us nine points behind United with a game in hand. Whilst talk of the title is still somewhat muted, talk of Luiz is not, with his the name on every supporters lips post match.
Ancelotti had his say too, stating; “‘David Luiz and Ramires had a fantastic performance and fantastic goals and Ramires showed he is improving very well. Defensively David Luiz worked with a fantastic tempo and one-against-one was good, his performance was really good.”
Discussing the match overall, Carlo noted; “We wanted to win but it was not easy to find a solution in the final third in the first-half, the second-half was better because Manchester City were softer; they played Thursday night and were a little bit tired and we had more opportunity at the end of the game.”
“We needed to be patient. It was a difficult game because we didn’t want to concede on the counter-attack like we did in the last game against them.
“Tactically it was a good as well. We played for 90 minutes with good fighting spirit, so I am happy for this, and our moment is good, we showed this on the pitch.”
Chelsea (4-4-2): Cech, Ivanovic, David Luiz, Terry (c), Cole, Ramires, Essien, Lampard, Malouda (Anelka 69), Kalou (Zhirkov 76), Torres (Drogba 69).
Goals: David Luiz, Ramires