Chelsea have been in uncompromising form against the so called Ã¢â‚¬ËœBig GunsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ this season. They have ruthlessly disposed of Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham and reigning champions Manchester United in their opening 14 matches.
Meanwhile Mark Hughes enjoyed a splendid three-goal demolition of Arsenal in the Carling Cup on Wednesday. It injected the necessary belief into his side as they overcame the pace setters in tonightÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s evening kick-off at Eastlands.
The match had all the essential ingredients of a classic Premier League affair: goals, penalties, cards, full-blooded tackles, controversial refereeing decisions and, of course, the good old British weather.
It was Chelsea who rained down on Shay GivenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s goal during the opening stages of the game. Frank Lampard and Deco combined, with the Portuguese playmaker producing a sumptuous flick to find Drogba on the right of the penalty area.
The Ivory Coast international drove his shot straight at Given with the Irish keeper making a comfortable save. Indeed it would take a City player to beat Given, who later made a decisive impact on the outcome of match billed as ‘the clash of the cash.’
The visitors continued to exert pressure on the home rearguard. Kolo ToureÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s last-ditch tackle on Nicolas Anelka bailed out his team mate, Wayne Bridge, who had failed in his attempt to shield the ball from the onrushing striker.
It took Chelsea less than nine minutes to conjure up a lead.
A deep corner was kept active thanks to persistence from Michael Ballack. The German thumped a swinging cross into the box. Amongst the ensuing scramble, Given made a fantastic save from John Terry but was cruelly rewarded when the ball ricocheted off Emmanuel Adebayor and trickled into the gaping net.
Despite this blow, the early goal seemed to spur City on. The home side strung their passes together and looked to carve open a defence that has only conceded a mere eight goals so far this season.
It was another moment of misfortune which presented City with their first real sighting on goal. Gareth Barry capitalised on a slip from Carvalho and squared the ball to Adebayor who was unable to guide his left-footed shot past Cech. The effort squirmed harmlessly wide.
The sustained period of possession did finally pay off for Mark HughesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ men in the 37th minute.
CityÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s sixth corner found Wright-Phillips on the edge of the area. The winger smacked his shot goalwards, with the flight of the ball being diverted by the elbow of Richards, allowingÃ‚Â AdebayorÃ‚Â to stroke home the equaliser at the second attempt.
The protestations of John Terry and company failed to sway Howard Webb who indicated the goal was to stand. As the referee called a halt to proceedings in the 45th minute, he was subjected to further complaints from the visitors.
It was to embody the tone of the second half which was by all accounts a stormy affair.
For the first time this season Chelsea lost their discipline and composure.
The team that had looked like champions elect last week at the Emirates, unravelled and succumbed to the enterprise of the players donned in sky blue.
One candidate for man of the match was Shaun Wright-Phillips who continued in the same vein of electric form that had terrorised the Arsenal defence in the Carling Cup last Wednesday. He pegged back the usually attacking Ashley Cole and managed to squeeze past EnglandÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s first choice left back on more than one occasion.
Ricardo Carvalho sparked the crumbling of ChelseaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s resistance. He needlessly followed through on a clearance, leaving his mark on TevezÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s back. A free kick was duly awarded.
The Argentine remained focused as Adebayor and Essien tangled in the organisation of the wall. The City striker playfully pushed the Ghanaian back the customary 10 yards. Essien refused to be antagonised by the Togo international instead opting to vent his frustrations at Webb.
When the wall was finally constructed, Tevez defied the expectations of all as he curled a low shot past the wrong footed Cech. ItÃ‚Â sent most of the 47,000 fans in the stadium into a state of delirium.
The remainder of the game was marred by consistent fouling from both teams. AncelottiÃ‚Â went for the jugular as he introduced Beletti and Mikel in search of an equaliser.
Eight minutes from time Chelsea earned a penalty when City substitute Onuoha felled Drogba inside the area. Lampard assumed the duty of restoring parity in the match. The England international aimed his spot kick to the left of Given but the Irish number one denied Chelsea the equaliser they craved, diving to his right and blocking the ball’s route to the net.
There was still time for one final chance. Drogba bustled his way past the City defence, leaving Barry in his wake but for once the striker dragged his shot the wrong side of the post. The careless finish came much to the relief of the packed City of Manchester Stadium.
City clung on to claim the three points and will seek to realign the train tracks leading them to Europe. Meanwhile Chelsea were left bitterly aggrieved at what they felt were poor referring decisions.
It all means that Manchester United have closed the gap to two points thanks to a 4-0 drubbing of West Ham United as we approach the hectic festive period.
Manchester City: Given, RichardsÃ‚Â (Onuoha 69), TourÃƒÂ©, Lescott, Bridge(Kompany 76), Wright-Phillips, De Jong, Barry, Robinho, Tevez, Adebayor.
Chlesea: Cech, Ivanovic, Carvalho (Belletti 63), Terry (Malouda 88), A Cole, Essien, Ballack (Mikel 64), Lampard, Deco, Drogba, Anelka.
Man of the Match: A toss up between Shay Given and Sean Wright-Phillips but the Irishman deserves his plaudits thanks to his penalty save and some crucial blocks in the first half.
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