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Man City 2-1 Chelsea: City Get Serious About Top Four Challenge

From Leeds to Eastlands, home of Manchester City

It was quite a contentious match on an unordinary day at Eastlands Saturday as Manchester City held on for a morale-boosting 2-1 win against Chelsea.

What was most obvious about this game is how much it mattered to most teams. I lost count of the number of times Chelsea and City players collided when trying to win 50/50 balls. Plus the workrate of several players, especially Carlos Tevez, was extraordinary. Chelsea hate to lose but this was a match that you have to give a lot of credit to City. As the commentator summed up at the end, “What a win,” and what a win it was indeed.

The most contentious moment in the game was City’s first goal which definitely hit Toure’s arm before landing in the path of Emmanuel Adebayor who slotted the ball into the net. The referee should have awarded a free kick to Chelsea, but he failed to see what the TV replay showed and City got away with it.

The other defining moment of the game was Frank Lampard’s penalty near the end which was saved by Shay Given. You can usually bank your money on Lampard scoring from the spot kick, but Lampard’s accuracy of getting the ball near the corner of the post failed him this time and Given guessed the right way and saved the ball with relative ease.

Overall, this wasn’t a classic game in terms of football skill but it definitely was an unpredictable one where you never knew what was going to happen next. Referee Howard Webb was too involved in this game for my liking and gave away too many unnecessary yellow cards, but it was definitely a difficult game to referee with plenty of aggression shown by both sides.

So much for Chelsea looking like an unbeatable machine, but it shows they are human after all. Not to take anything away from Manchester City, the Citizens battled hard and deserved to get something out of this game. Are they flat track bullies in reverse? Perhaps, but Hughes’s biggest challenge now is to get his City side playing like this against weaker opposition and tightening up his defense.

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  1. jhyapguru

    December 6, 2009 at 10:22 am

    I am not sure if “The Gaffer” is a professional blogger. Having read his blogs at this site for over a year now, I have come to realize how poorly they are written. There is no analysis of the game, strengths and weaknesses of the teams. He simply states one or two incidents in the game, mentions the final result and that is about it. If he (the gaffer) was my employee, I would have fired him a long time ago (in regards to the performance).

    • ovalball

      December 6, 2009 at 12:49 pm

      Let’s see…you’ve been reading The Gaffer and for over a year now and you have noticed it’s not ESPNsoccernet. Sharp observation.

      If I want a blow by blow account of a game I’ll go get it, but that is not what I am looking for here. Whether it’s The Gaffer or one of the other writers, they frequently write opinion pieces meant to get us thinking and chatting. That’s fine by me.

      That is not to say they don’t do “news” (remember the ESPN2 TV deal story…broken by the, uh, Gaffer?) Read Kartik’s current interview with John Skipper. However, if you are indeed looking for minute analysis of matches I would say you need to find yourself another site.

      For myself I enjoy the articles by all the writers, whether news or opinion, although I’m certain more than one of them has taken way too many headers in his lifetime. Regular readers would know who they are.

    • The Gaffer

      December 6, 2009 at 2:06 pm

      Jhyapguru, I don’t write match reports. I write about major incidents in games to elicit the opinion from the readers. After every game, there are literally 10s to 100s of match reports published. So instead of going down that path, I write about key incidents, interesting observations about the commentary, etc.

      The Gaffer

  2. cardblues

    December 5, 2009 at 10:14 pm

    Ah yes another France vs. Ireland….What an obvious handball to my Man City to go even before the half. The worst part is the obvious bias by the commentator whom referred to the win as deserved.

    • MNUfan1991

      December 6, 2009 at 11:03 am

      Ha this is called karma–payback for the Chel$ki goal on United that never should be.
      Go City!

  3. b

    December 5, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    As someone who previously thought Chelsea were an unstoppable machine, I have to say today’s match was interesting.

    I think today showed that there are two Chelseas. The one that has grabbed an early lead and the one that is losing and needs a goal.

    The one with the early lead is hard to beat. They will sit back and do nothing but wait for counterattacks. Cech is still one of the best. And they can be very, very tough to break down.

    But the one that actually has to come out and play? Not so unbeatable. Not much imagination, not much creativity. Really, pretty average when forced to actually play. Interesting.

  4. Gunner JD

    December 5, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    It’s funny how things work in this wild and wooly league. God bless it. This is my 3rd year following the beautiful game (in England) and I can say this season has the makings of the most exciting of the three, and some of the best sport watching anywhere in the world.

    As an Arsenal fan I abhor rooting for City (and the damnable Adebayor) in any way, shape, and form. I have no problem however rooting for the Argentinian bulldog know as Carlos Alberto. How fun it would be to know the thoughts of Sir Alex as Carlos punched Chelsea’s ticket today. Could it be even a little bittersweet? Would he really rather have a aging, uncertain Michael Owen or the scrappy fire of the voracious South American?

    But this was very good for us Gunners, and obviously everyone in the top 4-6. Chelsea is not (and was never) invincible.

    @ Jedrury: I agree with most of your post, except that I think most observers would agree that welcoming them to the top 4 at this stage is premature. They are upstarts who managed a brilliant, shining performance against one of the finest football clubs on the planet. But it is only one game, and they have a ways to go before they can claim to perform with that consistency enough to break into the top 4.

    • The Gaffer

      December 5, 2009 at 9:59 pm

      Yes, I agree that this season has been one of the more entertaining of late because the big four are losing more matches than usual.

      The Gaffer

  5. Jedrury

    December 5, 2009 at 5:17 pm

    As a newcomer to the top four, owned by a billionaire Arab, coached by the humorless Mark Hughes, City is not yet hated but surely under-appreciated by the snotty English press.

    Yet, they manhandled the Gunners (sigh !) and beat Chelsea today. They won today without Bellamy and Ireland. They are mature, seasoned, tough (like Man U and Chelsea) and, regrettably, will pound the baby Gunners once again at the Emirates (sans RVP) regardless of the antics of Adebayor.

    Welcome City to the top four, to balance in the Prem, and to a fine competitive season and not the runaway Chelsea gallop, I feared before the game.

    • Tyson

      December 5, 2009 at 7:03 pm

      Yes because we can all see just how well Liverpool and Arsenal are playing this season.

      Beating a team when they are having one of their worse seasons ever is hardly anything of note, beating a team when they are at top form is.

      If Liverpool were playing anywhere close to their form last year or Arsenal to the form they had when they were the untouchables it would be a foregone conclusion who would be challenging for the title.

      When both teams are down and out anybody with a little luck can overtake them.

      Try using a little common sense.

      • Jorge Curioso

        December 5, 2009 at 9:51 pm

        Liverpool *are* playing at their form of last year. They’re just not getting the lucky results they did previously. Same crap team, just finally reflecting this in the standings.

      • Jedrury

        December 5, 2009 at 10:17 pm

        This is not the season of the untouchables; this is 2009 and the Gunners got pounded by City in their last match. I am a fan of the Gunners but the truth be told, they are barely in the Top Four. City is tough and plays rough and the Gunners, absent RVP, Clichy, Gibbs, Bendtner, must get their points against teams like Stoke. Losing to Sunderland was no fluke; a team that defends well and deep can break down all the deft passing. A lucky goal and the Gunners lose and lose points.

        • Tyson

          December 6, 2009 at 8:48 am

          Wenger has a small inexperienced squad that is being ravaged by injuries so it isn’t rocket science why they are losing.

          Arsenal would be a credible threat to the title challenge if they were at top form with everything in order and I’m not an Arsenal fan, if anything I’m happy to see them losing but I’m not so naive to think the team is subpar or incapable of challenging for titles.

          If anything it’d serve my purposes better if Arsenal were out of the equation but it is ridiculous to suggest Arsenal are no longer a top team.

          • Jedrury

            December 6, 2009 at 1:14 pm

            You read what you want to read.
            I wrote “they are barely in the Top Four.”
            I did not write that they are not Top Four.
            They are not Man U, they are not Chelsea and they are not City.
            They might beat L’pool at top injury free form.

  6. Leo

    December 5, 2009 at 5:12 pm


    yes, horrible commentating. Should be bloody ashamed for airing that. Kept trying to discredit chelsea the entire match.

  7. Mike

    December 5, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    How bias were the ESPN commentators? Havent heard such Chelsea hate from a proffesional network in a long bloody time.

  8. Marc

    December 5, 2009 at 5:03 pm

    Thanks City

  9. Tyson

    December 5, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    I guess Blackburn are going to be challenging for the PL too or going to be in the finals for the Champions League because they also beat Chelsea.

    Not only did they beat Chelsea put they put up a good performance putting three past them before beating them in a penalty shootout.

    Fact of the matter is Chelsea is far, far, far from unbeatable. They’ve faced a faltering Liverpool and Arsenal this year and got the win but they faced an underpar United and were utterly dominated getting the victory through a referee mistake.

    This is Chelseas second loss in a row and it’s not a loss they can put down to injuries or under par performances they fought in both matches but came short.

    On the other side of the two horse race Manchester United plagued by 8 first team injuries tore apart West Ham United practically at will when they switched on.

    Chelsea always start off strong(last year they had an 8 point lead over United) and finished off weak. Manchester United always start off poor(worse form out of the big 4 for the first half of the season) and then finish off strong(record clean sheets in second half of the season).

    This is just a replay of last year and thats it. It’s exactly the same as last year in nearly every way except the Liverpool situation.

  10. Jorge Curioso

    December 5, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    City won’t be a Top 4 challenger — they’re too inconsistent — but they’re doing United great favors by taking full points off of the other big sides, while dutifully losing to United.

    Carlos Tevez is still a tw*t, but he’s rendering great service to Fergie these days.

  11. coachie ballgames

    December 5, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    What a terrific match, as you pointed out, both teams fought incredibly hard.
    Was Lampard’s terrible penalty attempt an ominous omen for England’s fortunes next summer? It was truly abysmal, his run-up was as long as typical Bob Willis delivery.

  12. bill victor

    December 5, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    Could replay work if it was used like NFL with challenges? Each team gets one challenge a game. Wouldn’t take any longer than a Drogba dive. Coyle could have used one today to have referee review take down in the box. Ireland could have used one to have a look at Henry’s handball. Coach has to be judicious in using his challenge. Anybody?

    • masterblaster

      December 5, 2009 at 11:14 pm

      better bet would be to use the NHL’s review policy. used for goals, they have someone in the commissioner’s office who reviews goal calls on the spot and phones the official immediately to correct him. It takes 20 seconds…honestly. The replay would be done by the time the scoring team gets back to the line and justice would be served.

  13. brn442

    December 5, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    Chelsea are far from unstoppable. The signs were there midweek against Blackburn. Ancelotti has them playing decent football but the aura of invincibility under the prime Mourinho years are definitely gone. They are still odds on for the title but they will continue to drop more points this season, what they do in the transfer window in anticipation of their African players leaving in January is crucial.

    Man City have the talent to finish in the top floor but like Liverpool the previous few years, beating the so called big clubs does not make up for dropping points against the smaller ones. Too many draws.

  14. Matt

    December 5, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    If you ask me I thought Webb had a pretty good game. Chelsea (Like Arsenal in midweek), when things started going against them decided they would try and kick the c**p out of City. Obviously it got to a point where he said- unnecessary fouls will get cards. That tackle on Bridge was a shocker and could easily have been a red card on another day.

    You can say City’s first goal was contentious, but don’t forget Chelsea’s first goal came from a Corner that never was. The ball clearly went out off Ashley Cole not SWP, and should have been a goalkick. I can see why Chelsea are upset over the ‘handball’ by Richards(Not Toure), but it also is fairly clear that Richards was never trying to play the ball and was trying to get out of the way of what was a very sweetly hit shot by SWP. Technically and by the book its handball, but in reality its a 50/50 call at best in the game. I can see why it was given, and I can see why it wasn’t given.

    Fully deserved win for City and I just hope we can kick on from here.

  15. Sam Davis

    December 5, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    Chelsea are an unbeatable machine.

    • The Gaffer

      December 5, 2009 at 2:52 pm

      They looked like it last week against Arsenal, but they didn’t look like it today, did they? I haven’t had a chance to watch the United game yet, but I saw the highlights.

      The Gaffer

      • Gunner JD

        December 5, 2009 at 7:23 pm

        lol…I like how diplomatic your response is, Gaffer. The first comment on a post about Chelsea being humbled by a scrappy, determined City declares they are ‘an unbeatable machine?’

        I mean really?

        I love how disconnected from reality people can be.

        • Gaz

          December 6, 2009 at 3:01 am

          Pssst. I think he was being sarcastic being that he has a United badge as his avatar.

          • Gunner JD

            December 6, 2009 at 5:55 pm

            LOL…! Holy $#%! I didn’t even think of that way…you’re probably right.

            That’s hilarious then.

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