Man City 1 Chelsea 1: Four talking points as Frank Lampard strikes
Man City 1 Chelsea 1: Four talking points as Frank Lampard scores an equaliser against former club
A tale of two halves
It was a cagey first half, as shown by the six yellow cards and only one shot on target (for Manchester City). Chelsea seemed set up to defend and counter-attack. Cesc Fabregas played deeper than he has in previous games, where he has linked up well with Diego Costa, and the more workmanlike options of Ramires and Willian were preferred, alongside Eden Hazard, to Andre Schurrle and Oscar. The game stayed that way for just over an hour, until an injury to Ramires saw him and Willian substituted for Schurrle and Mikel. Soon after, Pablo Zabaleta was sent off (probably rightly), receiving a second yellow for a foul on Costa. And ten minutes after that came to Chelsea’s goal – a fine counter-attacking move (evidence of their tactics, it was the first shot on target they had). Only for a certain Mr Lampard to come and spoil Chelsea’s party late on…
Who is writing this script?
If someone had said in early June – when Frank Lampard confirmed in Brazil that he was leaving Chelsea – that three months later he would score a dramatic late equaliser against his beloved Chelsea for Manchester City, you’d probably tell them to lay off the strong stuff. And rightly so. It was an audacious, ingenious little deal from Manuel Pellegrini to bring Lampard in on loan from New York City, which, even if the 36-year-old does nothing else in his remaining three months or so at City, has paid dividends here, not only for the obvious point (and denied points) but for the psychological factor. Because, on the evidence of their early season form, and particularly this game, these two appear the two front-runners for the title – and by a reasonable distance. So either team winning this game would have been a big laying down of a marker. To his credit, Lampard, who set a new record here of scoring against 39 Premier League clubs, was very magnanimous after his goal, refusing to celebrate. Lampard said: “I had 13 amazing years with Chelsea. It’s a hard one for me to answer. I came on and Chelsea fans are singing my name. But City have been brilliant since taking me in. I’m stuck in the middle.”
Far from perfect, but Schurrle-y a nice problem to have
Schurrle’s introduction on the hour changed the game. His movement for the goal – a fine, rapid counter-attacking move he started with a pass from a corner – was sublime; sprinting to the right wing before seeing Hazard coming up behind him and so running all the way across the defence to meet Hazard’s perfect cross at the far post. However, he was significantly at fault for Lampard’s goal – allowing James Milner to drift in behind to meet Silva’s ball over the top and tee up Lampard. Jose Mourinho admitted as much, claiming that Ramires would have never made the run to the score the first goal, but nor would the Brazilian have let the runner slip for the goal. The Portuguese has shown his limited patience for ‘luxury’ players in keeping Juan Mata on the bench, and eventually allowing him to leave. So it will be interesting to see how he balances his midfield for the rest of the season, with the other considerations of Cesc Fabregas playing a little deeper here than in previous game and the inventive Oscar left on the bench.
Costa in good Kompany
Costa had, frankly, bullied all four Premier League defences he had come against before today, with both his physicality and ability. But he met his match today in Vincent Kompany (and Eliaquim Mangala). It was a fascinating match-up of probably the best centre-forward and centre-half in the Premier League today, if not the world, and both acquitted themselves well – Costa playing an important in the goal and hitting the post with a good effort late on.