Chelsea 2:3 Manchester City – League Champs Prevail

The excitement of a new season is merely days away, as the friendlies are nearly complete, and the Barclay’s Premier League season will kickoff on Saturday. Today, the yearly tradition of the Community Shield took place at Villa Park, displaced from Wembley Stadium due to the Olympic tournament. Manchester City took advantage of the ejection of Branislav Ivanovic by scoring 3 second half goals to claim victory 3-2 over the FA Cup Winners.

1st Half

Roberto di Matteo started what looks to be a full strength lineup, except possibly for choosing David Luiz over Gary Cahill. Fernando Torres got the nod up front, with Eden Hazard on the left. Juan Mata started as more of a central playmaker, but with Manchester City playing with a 3 man backline, he would drift right to allow Ramires to help Ivanovic contain Aleksandr Kolarov, City’s left wingback.

As stated before, Manchester City played 3 at the back. Kun Aguero and Carlos Tevez played up front, with Samir Nasri sitting just behind the two strikers drifting into wider areas in the build to find spaces. Yaya Toure and Nigel de Jong started in a dual pivot midfield. Edin Dzeko was on the bench, while Mario Balotelli had the day off.

I’ve tried to do things a little different this time with my diagrams. I’m hoping it can give a flavor of the way the match proceeded. As you can see from the key plays, Manchester City dominated the early parts of the  match, with the play getting exceptionally chippy for what amounts to a friendly. The width created from Kolarov and Milner wasn’t as effective early in the match, except that it seemed to stretch the Londoners horizontally across the pitch. That opened up areas for Tevez, Nasri, and Toure to operate centrally.

The scoring started in the 40th minute, to an extent against the wealth of chances. A play started by Ashley Cole from the left led to a clearance off a cross. The ball came to Ramires, who dodged a defender and made a slick pass to his right. Mata may have made contact with the ball, but either way it came to Torres. He was able to nudge the ball with the outside of his left boot to get the club it’s lead before half.

Less than 3 minutes later, the game would change for the worse for Chelsea. Kolarov made a run from the left, and Ivanovic was late to the date. The Serbian defender lunged two-footed into Kolarov’s right leg, and referee Kevin Friend saw no other choice but to send Ivanovic to the showers early. Kolarov suffered no apparent injury from the reckless challenge, and completed the match. Roberto di Matteo adjusted his formation by moving Hazard and Mata to left- and right midfield, respectively, leaving Ramires to be the right fullback by default.

2nd Half

After the half, Mancini brought off Stefan Savic for Gael Clichy, presumably since Savic had earned an early yellow and did not want to chance any further disciplinary action. He also had Toure advance further in the attack, relying on a 3-5-2 with de Jong as the only holding midfielder to get back into the match.

Less than 8 minutes after the half, the Citizens leveled through Toure, and before the hour mark had the lead off a quality strike from Tevez. Both goals were off right footed blasts that left Petr Cech little chance to nullify. At the 65th minute, Nasri got a goal of his own to put City ahead for good. The French midfielder exquisitely volleyed a Kolarov cross from about 8 yards, again Cech unable to cope.

Manchester City continued to push, missing a few quality chances before Chelsea got a lifeline. Costel Pantilimon spilled a low, skimming 20 yard shot from Daniel Sturridge, and substitute Ryan Bertrand darted to the ball and tapped it in before the keeper could cover his mistake. That would be as close as Chelsea would get to the Manchester Blues.

It’s tough to gauge much from this exhibition, especially given that Manchester City gave up a lead to their Red Devil neighbors last year and still prevailed in the league. If you thought this relatively meaningless match would be uneventful, you missed out on a physical affair that was quite entertaining. The only thing left between us and the start of the season is a brief international date. Saturday can’t come soon enough.


3 thoughts on “Chelsea 2:3 Manchester City – League Champs Prevail”

  1. Until the end of the transfer window it is difficult to fully gauge any of the clubs. A single signing can alter their fate. Manchester City do look formidable once again and right now look favorites to me to win the title but if United, for example, sign RVP then they would get the nod provided City don’t buy another world class player. Same for the other clubs. As usual, there will be lots of transfers towards the end of the window so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

  2. I don’t think this game showed much about how these teams will do based on today’s performances. City obviously have a very strong squad and will challenge for the title. They will miss Yaya Toure when he is away during the African Cup of Nations tournament.

    Chelsea will take time to adjust to their new signings and life without Drogba. I expect they will finish better than their 6th finish last season and think they will end up in the top 4 but doubt whether they will be title challengers.

  3. City going with 3 in the back was almost a non-issue because Chelsea were unable to build an attack in the middle of the park. I am not sure if this is something City will use throughout the season but it wasn’t the vulnerability I thought it might be at the beginning of the game.

    I definitely see City as the biggest candidate for the title. City and United finished on 89 points last year and I came away thinking Manchester United got every last ounce out of the squad they had whereas City left points on the field many times and still managed to win. Having the potential to do better and actually doing it are two different things but even without a big signing I get the feeling this team will be better than it was last season.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *