As bizarre as it may sound, if Manchester City could play against Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal each week, they’d be in a better league position than they are now. City continue to look flaccid when they play teams such as Stoke City, but always seem to be up for it when they play powerhouses such as Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal.
The difference between City and other teams is that on the big days when you need it the most, they have key footballers who play with heart, namely Craig Bellamy and Carlos Tevez. We saw how incredibly passionate and dangerous they were earlier in the season when they almost beat Manchester United at Old Trafford. And we saw it again Saturday in a very exciting second half when City beat Premier League title favorites Chelsea 4-2 at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea, on the other hand, reminded me of the team from last year under Luiz Felipe Scolari when they were undisciplined, vulnerable in the back and sloppy in midfield.
One of the other things that impressed me about Manchester City was the solidarity among the team and the way that the players were galvanized in their support for Wayne Bridge. The way that Tevez encouraged the City supporters to praise Bridge after Tevez scored from the penalty spot was a shining example.
City may not be the best team in the league, not even close, but their team spirit is exemplary and they play with heart — two key components that will make the difference during key games but won’t win them the league.
There’s no question that when City go forward, they look deadly on the break. Just as Aston Villa can be clinical when they counter attack, so too is Manchester City.
The first two goals of the game couldn’t have been more opposite in nature. The first, by Frank Lampard, was a classy inch-perfect shot that beat Shay Given and went into the corner of the net. The second, by Carlos Tevez, was a shot that bobbled into the net. Fair play to Tevez, though. He thoroughly deserved the goal and it was a perfect example of how the Argentine never gives up.
Tevez had a brilliant day but so too did Craig Bellamy who showed his precision running down the left wing which netted him two goals.
As for other incidents in the game, I missed the part where Wayne Bridge refused to shake John Terry’s hand. But I did see an unimpressive defensive performance from Terry yet again. As for Chelsea’s second goal, which resulted after Javier Belletti brought down Gareth Barry in the box, I thought it was a poor decision by the referee. I didn’t see any contact even when I watched the TV replay.
Overall, what a brilliant second half performance from Manchester City which will have an impact on the Premier League title race and the challenge for fourth place. This was the first time Manchester City won the double over Chelsea since the 1957-58 season. And it was thoroughly deserved.