Monday, 25 February 2013

Match Reflection: Manchester City 2 - 0 Chelsea

City put in top performance to take the spoils

By Aaron Leggott

It was dubbed the biggest match of our season so far, and the players certainly delivered. In a must win game, two incredible goals from Yaya Toure and Carlos Tevez secured the three points for Roberto Mancini's men to keep our extremely slim title hopes alive.

In all honesty, City deserved the victory and showed that they wanted victory more than Chelsea, with the visitors only real chance coming from a Frank Lampard penalty.

Saved! Joe Hart keeps out Frank Lampard with a fine stop
Photo: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images Europe

The penalty was subsequently saved by Joe Hart as City were very nearly made to pay for their wastefulness in the first half, as Jack Rodwell put in a magnificent performance in his first start since returning from injury.

Mancini, whose name was consistently chanted by City supporters throughout the game, insisted that his team needed to start with a quicker tempo in games, and the message certainly went through to Yaya Toure, who tested Petr Cech within just 40 seconds.

Rodwell also had a number of chances throughout the first half, and realistically could have grabbed one or two goals, with his best effort coming from 25 yards as his strike was tipped over by Cech.

The best chance of the half fell to the feet of Sergio Aguero after some great pressure by Rodwell on John Obi Mikel saw the Nigerian give the ball to David Silva, whose pass to Aguero put the Argentinian through on goal, only to lose the ball thanks to a heavy touch.

Chelsea were certainly the second best team on the field. The real danger man was Senegalese Demba Ba, who was causing both Kolo Toure and Matija Nastasic a number of problems throughout the game. Unfortunately for Ba, his team were unable to consistently support him and he often found himself isolated as the visitors didn't exploit any gaps in the City defence.

However, despite being the inferior side for much of the game, Chelsea found themselves with a great chance to take the lead after Branislav Ivanovic's lofted pass found Demba Ba through on goal, who went past Joe Hart before being brought down, giving referee Andre Mariner no choice but to point to the spot.

Up stepped Frank Lampard, expected to bag his 200th goal for Chelsea, but Hart had other ideas on his mind as he saved Lampard's effort quite magnificently, and the game stayed goalless.

Yaya celebrates after scoring
Photo: Alex Livesey/Getty Images Europe
Chelsea did have another chance shortly afterwards as they found themselves in a two on one situation in their favour, but Ramires didn't make the most of his chance and allowed Kolo Toure to recover well, before City went up to the other end and took advantage of Chelsea's wastefulness.

As Silva collected the ball near the Chelsea goal, he found Yaya Toure on the edge of the box, and the Ivorian skipped past the challenges of Chelsea defenders before slotting home to give City the lead.

In an attempt to get an equaliser, Benitez decided to bring on Oscar and Fernando Torres but in truth neither were able to create many problems to a resilient City defence, and the game was settled with just minutes to play as substitute Carlos Tevez was able to fire home from outside the box with a venomous effort and give City the points in this crucial game.

My thoughts

In what was such a big game for us, I was impressed at how well the team did, especially considering the level of performance in our last league game. Pretty much every player improved after Southampton, and those who were under pressure certainly didn't show it. I was probably most impressed with both Kolo Toure and Rodwell; and whilst I felt James Milner had a good game, I don't think he was worthy of the MoTM award.

Toure, for example, had an absolutely brilliant game and he looks fitter than he has done for the past two years. It is a shame that we probably won't end up renewing his contract for another year as I feel he has been a great servant to the club in his time here and still has plenty to offer for at least another season.

With Rodwell, yesterday showed the level that we can expect him to bring to the field when he is on form and not injured. Of course, Rodwell's injury problems are well publicised and in all honesty it wouldn't surprise me if he picked up another knock before the season finishes. However, putting his injury record aside, you cannot doubt the kid's talents and I believe next season is key for him if he is to be a great player at Manchester City. 

With a 12 point gap in the league, I will once again emphasise that whilst it is extremely unlikely we will retain the title, it is by no means impossible. Presuming we beat United at Old Trafford, we are hoping that United slip up in three other games and take the league to goal difference for a second successive season. In their current form, it doesn't seem that this will happen, but with trips to the Britannia, Upton Park and the Emirates, nothing is certain yet.

For one thing, this title race should certainly be an interesting development if we are to continue winning our games.


                              City                                                                                   Chelsea
                              50%                                   Possession                                50%
                            15 (11)                             Shots (on target)                           4 (1)
                                6                                        Corners                                     6
                               19                                         Fouls                                      5

Player ratings

HART: After coming under some criticism from Mancini this week, Hart produced a great performance between the sticks, and a clean sheet will do his confidence no harm. Whilst Chelsea only registered one shot on target, it was Lampard's excellent penalty and I'm still shocked as to how Hart got his hand to it.  

TSBV rating: 9/10

Kolo Toure: My MoTM
Photo: Clive Mason/Getty Images Europe 
ZABALETA: Another resilient performance from Zabaleta, who rarely made any mistakes and kept Hazard and Mata relatively quiet all game.  

TSBV rating: 7/10

KOLO TOURE: My MoTM for this week. As explained above, Toure had a great game and didn't let Ba use his physical presence as much as he would've hoped to have done.  

TSBV rating: 10/10

NASTASIC: This kid is something special. At only 19, I'd go as far as to say he's been one of the best defenders in the league. I cannot recall him having a bad game and for someone of his age to produce so many solid performances in a debut season, I have really high hopes about his future.  

TSBV rating: 8/10

CLICHY: Clichy played well yesterday, producing his usual forward bursts to great effect whilst also dealing well with the pace that Mata used on him throughout the game.   

TSBV rating: 7/10

MILNER: Given Man of the Match by the club, Milner was definitely one of the stand out performers yesterday as his energy and work rate proved to be vital in dominating against a poor Chelsea midfield. Lampard, Ramires and Mikel couldn't get near him. However, I wouldn't have given him MoTM!!   

TSBV rating: 8/10

GARCIA: Garcia has come in for a bit of criticism, and perhaps it was deserved after his abysmal display a fortnight ago against Southampton. But after being moved back to his natural position, Garcia did well and produced a solid display, rarely giving Lampard time to roam.     

TSBV rating: 7/10

RODWELL: For me Rodwell was one of the stand out performers yesterday, and his presence at set pieces was evident. He really should've grabbed a goal or two but his strength and determination were encouraging signs after an unlucky season so far for the ex-Everton midfielder.    

TSBV rating: 9/10

YAYA TOURE: Mancini chose to play Yaya in his advanced role supporting the attackers and in my opinion I think this is the best place to pick him from now until the end of the season. His bursting runs once again caused numerous problems to the Chelsea backline and his goal was nothing short of brilliant.   

TSBV rating: 8/10

SILVA: Perhaps his best display for a long time and it proved as he provided both assists for Yaya's and Tevez's goals. He created numerous chances for Aguero and co. yesterday and in fact produced more chances than the whole Chelsea team combined. A class act.     

TSBV rating: 8/10

AGUERO: Not his most clinical day in front of goal as he missed a couple of great chances in both halves, but he still caused Chelsea a number of problems as he strode forwards.    

TSBV rating: 7/10


TEVEZ: Arguably the substitution that changed the outcome of the game. After Lampard's penalty miss, Tevez came on for Rodwell and his energy and desire made an impact straight away, and he certainly deserved his goal at the end. Will probably start next week against Villa.   

TSBV rating: 8/10

LESCOTT and NASRI: Both coming on at 90 minutes meant they didn't really make an impact. No rating for either.

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(c) The Sky Blue View 2013

1 comment:

  1. Colin Is The King25 February 2013 at 17:28

    Vital save by Joe Hart, I wonder how important it will seen to be in due course.
    You're right, though, City should have been well in command on the scoresheet before it happened.
    Nice to put a little more daylight between us and the clubs below in the table as well.