Chelsea 2 Man City 1: Lessons learned from feisty encounter
What did we learn from Chelsea's 2-1 victory over Premier League leaders Manchester City at Stamford Bridge on Monday?
Frank Lampard makes the difference
The England midfielder responded to the critics writing off his Chelsea career in typically emphatic fashion with his 82nd-minute winner from the spot. AndrÃ© Villas-Boas preferred Meireles ahead of the 33-year-old for City’s visit but Lampard was thrown on in the 73rd minute and was on hand to fire the Blues to victory. The England international ““ who had a penalty saved by Newcaslte United goalkeeper Tim Krul in his last outing nine days ago ““ smashed his effort down the middle, leaving Joe Hart totally powerless to prevent the winner, and Lampard netting the 20th penalty of his Premier League career.
The maturing Mario Balotelli
The Italy international is fast becoming a key member of Roberto Mancini’s side and is starting to develop a goalscoring habit against City’s Premier League title rivals. The former Internazionale striker bagged a memorable brace against Manchester United at Old Trafford in October and the 21-year-old has already hit the net 10 times this season. His 11th came at Stamford Bridge as he put City ahead in under two minutes, finishing a delightful move as he dodged past a diving Petr Cech to roll the ball into the empty net. And although he was kept relatively quiet for the remainder of the game, Mancini showed his growing faith in the £24m signing by opting to withdraw Sergio Aguero and leave Balotelli on following Gael Clichy’s dismissal in the second half.
Spain international David Silva has had his fair share of praise this season following a series of sublime performances which have helped fire City to the top of the table. But it was Silva’s former Valencia team-mate Juan Mata who dazzled in west London on Monday night. The 23-year-old humiliated City captain Vincent Kompany with an audacious nutmeg in the second half and his quick feet and exceptional skill were a constant threat.
A disappointing Yaya TourÃ© sums up City’s night
The Ivory Coast midfielder epitomised a below-par City performance as he struggled to exert his dominance on the game. His surging runs forward were countered by Chelsea’s well organised five-man midfield and the former Barcelona midfielder resorted to cynical tactics in an apparent attempt to get a reaction from his opponents. His unprompted kick out at Mata in the first half escaped the attention of referee Mark Clattenburg and he was again fortunate that an attempted challenge from behind missed Ramires after the break.
Gael Clichy is City’s weakest link
Mancini has assembled a squad brimming with talent and City are still favourites to claim their first Premier League title this term. However, one vulnerability appears to be at left-back. The Italian manager is yet to settle on a first-choice occupant for the role with Clichy and Aleksandar Kolarov competing for the spot. For the trip to Chelsea, Clichy was handed the chance to impress but the French defender struggled to contain Daniel Sturridge. The England striker created the Blues’ equaliser just before half-time, racing past Clichy to cross for Raul Meireles. After the break, he drew a foul from Clichy prompting Mark Clattenburg to issue a caution before the former Arsenal full-back received his marching orders for clumsily bringing down Ramires after 58 minutes.