Chelsea 1 Man City 1: Three talking points
Three talking points as the league leaders Chelsea are held by Man City
A classic performance by Mourinho’s side against a ‘big team’
Jose Mourinho set his side up in a pragmatic way and the intention was not to lose, considering his side have a five-point lead to protect, it seemed the right thing to do. Mourinho had to start the game without two of his most influential players, Cesc Fabregas was out with a hamstring injury, while Diego Costa was serving the first match of a three-game suspension for violent conduct. Fabregas has contributed 15 assists this season and has been the heartbeat of the team. Costa has provided the cutting edge with 17 goals in 25 games. As a result, Mourinho’s line-up had a slightly more defensive look to it, Ramires came in alongside Nemanja Matic, adding pace to central areas. This was to help nullify the threat of David Silva as Mourinho knew that if he allowed the Spaniard too much space, he would dictate the game and open up Chelsea’s defence on a regular occasion. Chelsea for much of the game never over-committed, and let the front four do most of the attacking. The midfield and the defence were very disciplined denying Manchester City space in which to operate, because of this, Mourinho got exactly what he wanted: a point which would keep the teams as they were in terms of points.
A cagey affair which most people predicted before the game
It was a game of few chances and it played out like a game of chess with neither side willing to commit. Gary Neville observed that big games had become too open and with teams forgetting the art of defending. “Atletico Madrid – there’s a team that resemble a top side. We’ve really dropped below this level of intensity. Chelsea have got it, City have a bit, but Liverpool’s games with Arsenal and United were a million miles away from being big games,” quipped Neville. But since those comments, it has been a return to how the big games use to be. We had Arsenal’s 2-0 victory over Manchester City after Southampton’s 1-0 win at Manchester United. Chances were had to come by in those games and it was often won on moments of inspiration, or a lapse in concentration. The game between Chelsea and City followed a similar narrative as both goals came from the other side making small mistakes.
City have lost their desire this season
Unlike Chelsea under Mourinho’s first spell, and Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson, City have never dominated in the way their financial outlay suggested they should have. They won their title in 2011/2012 on goal difference, and then lost out the following season to one of the worst United team in years. Last season, they won the Premier League title more because Liverpool fell apart rather than anything special that City did. It seems to be following a similar pattern this season as the Eastlands outfit have appeared disinterested in games or have played quite poorly. Neville analysed that this side had an average age of just over 29, and that it wouldn’t be long before this team was dismantled in favour of some younger talents. So for a lot of these players, it could be the last chance to win titles, but the manner of their FA Cup defeat, and the five-point gap at the top of the Premier League suggests that the desire just isn’t there at the moment. They may yet find salvation in the Champions League, a competition in which they have perennially underachieved, but if City continue to display some of the performances we have seen this season, then it could become ugly for them culminating in the sacking of Manuel Pellegrini.