Man City 2 Chelsea 1: Lessons from a dramatic top-flight clash

What did we learn from Manchester City's dramatic late victory over Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday?

Premier League, 21 March 2012, Etihad Stadium
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Man City
2 - 1
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Chelsea

Mancini makes the right call by turning to Tevez

Carlos Tevez made his first appearance for Manchester City since September, coming on as a 66th-minute substitute. Before kick-off, Roberto Mancini had said it depended on what scenario his side found themselves in whether the controversial Argentine would make an appearance. And with City trailing Chelsea by a goal, it was a significant call for Mancini to bring on Tevez. Ex-City player Rodney Marsh had publically warned the Italian of the consequences of his decision should he play Tevez and City lose the game. But Mancini’s decision was vindicated when Tevez combined with Samir Nasiri to allow the Frenchman to make it 2-1 after Sergio Aguero had earlier equalised from the spot. True, that was the Argentine’s only contribution of note after his return from exile – but City supporters will hope their former captain can help the club overhaul Machester United’s one-point advantage.

Half-time change boosted City

If City had not realised the difference between being title contenders and winners they certainly have now. Despite a positive start from the home side, which saw a golden opportunity wasted by Mario Balotelli after Frank Lampard’s misplaced pass, and Samir Nasiri hitting the crossbar, the weight of expectation transmitted from the stands to the pitch appeared to affect the City players. Groans from City’s supporters were heard each time the ball was played back in the first half. It prompted Mancini to make a change and he decided to replace Balotelli with Gareth Barry at half-time. The move immediately allowed City’s attack to push forward in numbers, with Barry anchoring the midfield. The substitution changed the complexion of the game. Chelsea’s defence was soon overwhelmed by light blue shirts and it was no surprise when Nasri played a neat one-two with Tevez to score with four minutes to go.

Torres’ direct approach

Fernando Torres has been transformed in recent weeks, ending his five-month goalless run with a brace at the weekend. Chelsea caretaker manager Roberto Di Matteo is using the Spanish striker as a traditional ‘number nine’ which has seen Torres position himself on the last man, and importantly when he is in possession, he is now running directly at defenders with pace. Many said that Torres is not a like-for-like replacement for Didier Drogba and that he should partner another striker or attacking midfielder as he did at Liverpool. But Wednesday night’s display highlighted that he is more than capable of playing as the lone man at the top of Chelsea’s forward triumvirate.

Chelsea look shaky at the back without Terry

Chelsea appeared vulnerable against City’s pace and power throughout without John Terry at the helm. The central defensive combination of David Luiz and Gary Cahill looks strong on paper, however it has yet to inspire confidence amongst Chelsea supporters since they were paired together for the away tie against Napoli. The Blues need a natural leader at the back to take responsibility when Terry is absent. With Luiz failing to curb his attacking nature and continuing to maraud forward at every opportunity, Cahill seemed at a loss of how to control his partner. Fortunately for Chelsea, it is expected that Terry, who remained in London for Wednesday’s match, will be fit for the weekend’s vital match against Spurs in the battle for fourth place.

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