Manchester City’s roller coaster week ended on high with a shocking victory at Stamford Bridge. After a frustrating home draw versus Liverpool and a disappointing FA Cup exit in midweek, City appeared to be on the back foot for the first forty minutes. The Citizens record at Stamford Bridge is one of those statistics you constantly hear from opposing supporters and wish would go away, and initially it appeared the record of futility would continue.
The last City manager to win at Stamford Bridge was Peter Reid, and that was in the first year of the Premier League era. But today, with Fleet Street focused on pre match handshakes and scandal, City hung in the match without conceding but a lone first half goal, and then took control.
Possession stats tend to lie in football. While I have not seen a final number on today, Chelsea certainly controlled possession. But after Lampard’s initial strike, Cheslea’s ball movement was less crisp and the possession ultimately less valuable. Having been handed a blueprint on how to expose Chelsea’s frailties at midweek by Jose Mourinho, Roberto Mancini deployed Adam Johnson and Craig Bellamy in wide positions to put pressure on Chelsea’s replacement fullbacks. When Adam Johnson fell down on the job (literally in some cases), SWP was inserted to force Flourent Malouda to play deeper than he would have liked, opening up more midfield space for City. Malouda is replacing the injured Ashley Cole at Left Back.
Carlos Tevez and Craig Bellamy were titanic forces today as they have so often been when City is successful. Bellamy’s pace gave Ivanovic, replacing Jose Bosingwa fits all afternoon, and Tevez had his way with Chelsea’s sloppy center back tandem. Also poor for Chelsea was Obi John Mikel, a replacement for Michael Essien, who is also out injured.
Wayne Bridge acted professionally today, while his opposite number in the tabloids John Terry continued to play the victim. Despite the classless taunts from many (but not all) Chelsea supporters, Bridge had a workmanlike outing which contributed mightily to the Citizens victory. John Terry on the other hand played poorly and continued his history of complaining to the officials every time Chelsea was on the wrong end of a decision.
It should also be noted that Roberto Mancini had tremendous success at Inter in exposing Carlo Ancelloti’s preferred diamond midfield. Today simply continued that pattern, though the venue and sides were different.
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