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Chelsea’s Matić and Willian Win Midfield Battle Against Under Strength Manchester City Side

chelsea manchester city 600x600 Chelseas Matić and Willian Win Midfield Battle Against Under Strength Manchester City SideChelsea’s 1-0 victory at the Etihad Stadium on Monday night gave Jose Mourinho’s side the inside track on the Premier League title. With a much more favorable run-in than their title rivals, Mourinho’s men have put themselves in an advantageous position to win the title. The match at the Etihad was won by Chelsea midfield, most particularly Mourinho signings Willian and Nemanja Matić.

This past summer Manchester City took what many, including myself, thought was a huge risk in buying Fernandinho who had played the last eight seasons in Ukraine for £30 million. The signing was not only City’s most expensive of the summer but the third most expensive in club history. This for a player who at 28 has only four caps for his national team and who has never played in a top European league.

We knew when he was signed that Fernandinho was an adept passer from a deep-lying midfield spot and had the athleticism and pace to get forward and join the attack when needed. What Fernandinho has ended up being is one of the best high-priced signings in English football, and an indispensable part of the Manchester City side. So indispensable the player has become when the team sheet came out for Monday’s top of the table clash with Chelsea, Citizens fans began to panic at the Brazilian’s omission.

Manchester City have endured long-term injuries to Sergio Aguero (on multiple occasions), David Silva and Samir Nasri this season. However, not since Vincent Kompany’s early season injury problems has panic so easily set in among Citizen Supporters about the loss of a single player.  Those who watch City closely know that Fernandinho has actually been the single most influential individual in the club’s rise up the table from sitting 8th at the last international break to top of the table entering this past weekend’s fixtures.

In the Brazilian’s place came Martín Demichelis, a centre-half typically, who despite criticism from some City faithful, he has been a strong addition to the squad. The Argentine has plenty of pedigree and had, at times, played in the midfield for Bayern Munich. However he was overmatched by Chelsea’s quickness in movement particularly from Willian who was preferred to Oscar in the center of midfield. So limited were Manuel Pellegrini’s options on the day in fact that he included two youth players on his bench as well as James Milner who was nursing a groin injury. Eden Hazard also had his way with Demichelis who sadly was scapegoated by many City supporters for the loss.

Fernandinho fits the profile of the type of player Jose Mourinho tends to covet. While much has been made of The Special One’s decision to sell Juan Mata to Manchester United, Monday’s match is a clear example of why a player like Mata, who lingers on the ball, does not track back and tends to lack tactical discipline, thus becoming surplus to requirements at Chelsea.

While Chelsea’s decision to buy-back former Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matić from Benfica, at a greatly inflated price, was mocked, he was the single standout player of the Chelsea victory. The Serbian essentially marked Yaya Toure out of the game using a physical approach while showing great athleticism and pace to get forward and join the counter-attack.

In this match, Matić showed not only an ability to move the ball quickly and with precision, but also to defend well and provide extra physical cover for the back line, seamlessly slotting into a defensive posture when necessity required it. Simply put, he bossed the midfield.

Mourinho’s Chelsea has been a work in progress all season. But the addition of Matić and the dumping of Mata as well as Kevin De Bruyne makes the team look more Mourinho-esque and less Michael Emenalo hodgepodge buying Chelsea than before the January window. This served Mourinho’s side well at the Etihad and will continue to build the side’s style and character.

This entry was posted in Chelsea, Leagues: EPL, Manchester City. Bookmark the permalink.

About Kartik Krishnaiyer

A lifelong lover of soccer, the beautiful game, he served from January 2010 until May 2013 as the Director of Communications and Public Relations for the North American Soccer League (NASL). Raised on the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the old NASL, Krishnaiyer previously hosted the American Soccer Show on the Champions Soccer Radio Network, the Major League Soccer Talk podcast and the EPL Talk Podcast. His soccer writing has been featured by several media outlets including The Guardian and The Telegraph. He is the author of the book Blue With Envy about Manchester City FC.
View all posts by Kartik Krishnaiyer →

9 Responses to Chelsea’s Matić and Willian Win Midfield Battle Against Under Strength Manchester City Side

  1. ianor says:

    Great article.when i look city’s team last night the one man they missed was fernandinho. Demichiles was joking all night. And the bad news for city fans is he w’ll be out the next four weeks. I predict chelsea to beat them again in the facup and barcelona get a favourable result there.

  2. (-) (-) says:

    Don’t qualify Chelsea’s win. Chelsea was the better team regardless if Fernandinho is or isn’t playing for City.

  3. Georgie says:

    What is troubling from the City’s point of view is Pelegrini’s inability to adjust team tactics based on the players he had available. Yes Fernandinho, Aguero and Nasri were missing but you cannot control that. However you fully control how to approach the game given the circumstances. Simply deploying Demichelis in the role he was over-matched and call it the best you can do on the day is not nearly good enough. Chelsea had clear plan and were set to counter City and play to their own strength. Pelegrini decision to play it business as usual as if he had fully fit squad and expected to dominate the game in the way City does against lesser sides was borderline arrogant.

  4. Bomadum says:

    The absence of the like of Kun,Fernandinho and Nasri gave Chelsea an edge over city.I am a true Chelsea fan but I must say the truth.City’s attack lacks the venom that would have possibly killed the game.Chelsea did was at the heart of the midfield.Mourinho’s professionalism was felt.Pellegrini has more works to do.

  5. Pakapala says:

    The match between PSG and Monaco has been dubbed the Ca$hico in France. I think the same term should be used for this matchup.
    I am bemused when people talk about City having so much money and their squad being so loaded that they had no reason losing a 1-0 match against Chelsea, a team just as loaded with money and with talent that they could afford to let go of Mata.
    It was a 1-0 match where both teams could have come out on top. Let’s not paint this as a rout by Chelsea. Or even worst act like this was Cardiff City beating Manchester City.

  6. Bomadum says:

    The absence of the like of Kun,Fernandinho and Nasri gave Chelsea an edge over city.I am a true Chelsea fan but I must say the truth.City’s attack lacks the venom that would have possibly killed the game.Chelsea did well at the heart of the midfield.Mourinho’s professionalism was felt.Pellegrini has more works to do.

  7. Smokey Bacon says:

    If only City had their full quota of mercenaries to compete with Chelsea’s mercenaries.

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