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Manchester City 1-0 Chelsea


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Manchester City 1-0 Chelsea

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Carlos Tevez scored the winning goal as Chelsea succumbed to a second successive defeat after losing at Eastlands.

The goal proved to be the only spark of excitement in a dour encounter, and was expertly finished by Tevez after City had broken at pace. The Blues' flawless start to the season is now over, and following Wednesday's defeat against Newcastle, there are signs that the wheels are starting to wobble as the Chelsea juggernaut came to a shuddering halt in Manchester.

Carlo Ancelotti can have no arguments - his team were poor and beaten by the better side. City defended manfully and their purpose was greater; after an inconsistent start to the season and the embarrassment of being dumped out of the Carling Cup by West Bromwich Albion, City demonstrated greater commitment and desire, making them worthy victors.

And with Arsenal next at Stamford Bridge followed by a tough test at Villa Park (as well as a Champions League clash with Marseille in midweek), the champions require an instant improvement on their below-par showing. Didier Drogba epitomised the Chelsea performance; lethargic and uninterested. Out of a previously-potent attacking trio of Drogba, Florent Malouda and Nicolas Anelka, only the latter demonstrated any real dedication to the cause with a tireless display as Chelsea were let down by poor individual performances.

Their cause was not helped by news of a further injury setback for vice-captain Frank Lampard, who was missed as the Blues' midfield missed the creativity and versatility a typical Lampard performance would offer. Other players who were missed included the injured duo of Yossi Benayoun and Salomon Kalou, but in truth the side Ancelotti fielded was more than good enough to beat another injury-stricken side in City.

Chelsea can have no complaints - they were beaten by the better team. City's superb rearguard denied them any clear opportunities and on the one occasion the visitors genuinely threatened, Joe Hart was able to thank the woodwork as the crossbar denied Branislav Ivanovic from opening the scoring.

It was Tevez who had the first chance of the game when he opted to take a shot early, but the result was a goalkick as he fired wide of the target. Petr Cech was then at his best to first make an excellent catch under pressure before decisively punching the ball clear after City had won a free-kick for a foul on Pablo Zabaleta.

City had enjoyed the better start as you would expect from the hosts, but there were brief glimpses of Chelsea's quality; once or twice they threatened to burst beyond second gear. However unlike their previous Premier League clashes this season where they were able to sweep aside all in their path with minimal effort, they were finding Robert Mancini's side a fiercer animal.

Anelka had the champions' first effort of note but after some decent passing down the left flank the best he could muster was a shot steered well off-target. However the screw began to turn and it was suddenly the black-shirted visitors who were in the ascendancy. A confidence-inducing goal might have been the result of an Ivanovic header, but the Serbian was first denied by the crossbar and then by Joe Hart as he looked to power the follow-up beyond the England number one.

David Silva then saw a shot well-saved by Cech after a neat give-and-go on the edge of the box. The Spaniard opted to shoot from an angle, clearly surprising the Czech Republic international but Chelsea were able to breathe a sigh of relief as Cech's quick reaction save saw the ball parried behind for a corner. The resultant corner was ultimately fruitless for City but it was evident this match would be decided by moments of brilliance.

One was nearly supplied on cue when Anelka brought the best out of Hart; the Frenchman's curling shot from twenty-five yards superbly finger-tipped around the post by the City goalkeeper. Essien then should have scored but mistimed his header, but Chelsea were made to pay for their wastefulness when City's first real effort of note was tucked away superbly by the rampaging Tevez.

It began when Yaya Toure mugged the pedestrian-like Ramires, and Tevez was able to break over the half-way line. Using Silva as a decoy to draw away John Terry, the Argentine took a touch on the edge of the area and hammered the ball beyond Cech, who was unsighted as the ball flew through Ashley Cole's attempted block. It was a superb finish from the diminutive City captain, and the action that would win his side the game. Nevertheless, Chelsea had only themselves to blame - Ramires was caught off-guard by Toure and his defence did him no favours by failing to sufficiently close down Tevez.

Chelsea were frustrated and the best they could muster in the remaining half an hour was a number of wayward long-range shots from Michael Essien and a header from Alex that went wide. Drogba had barely touched the ball and it came as no surprise that he was replaced by Daniel Sturridge - although the ex-City man did his best to emulate Drogba's performance and work-rate by making even less of an impact.

Anelka was cutting a frustrated and isolated figure as City continued to expertly mark him out of the game. Even the introductions of Yuri Zhirkov and the exciting Josh McEachran failed to inspire the Blues - but they did come within a foot of equalising when the best chance of the half fell to the head of Alex. However, the Brazilian mistimed his effort and the ball flew wide off of his shoulder.

Late pressure was plentiful but nothing could break down the resolute backline of the hosts. Young Dedryck Boyata, making just his second Premier League start was excellent and despite having the likes of Alexander Kolarov and Joleon Lescott all injured, City demonstrated what strength in depth they now possess.

Regardless, the result should not be taken too far out of context - City deserved to win but the defeat is barely a damaging one for Chelsea. In fact, one could argue that Chelsea could have afforded to lose this game. A win against Arsenal on Sunday will reinforce the waning confidence of the West London outfit but the result is a potentially damaging one - not only does it mean their lead at the top of the table has been cut to a mere point, but City are now once again full of belief. It could still be their year - but Chelsea must demonstrate an instant improvement if they wish to remain favourites for the title.

Their first true test of the season has brought about their first loss in the Premier League and incidentally is only the second time in 50 league games they have failed to find the back of the net - Joe Hart had denied them on the other occasion as well. But don't despair; keep the faith. Wins against Arsenal but first Marseille will restore the Blues' confidence.

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Chelsea (4-3-3): Cech; Ivanovic, Alex, Terry ©, Cole; Essien, Mikel (Zhirkov 68), Ramires (McEachran 80); Anelka, Drogba (Sutrridge 74), Malouda

Manchester City (4-3-3): Hart; Boyata (Boateng 88), K Toure, Kompany, Zabaleta; Barry, De Jong, Y Toure; Silva (Johnson 78), Tevez © (Adebayor 86), Milner

The TalkChelsea.net Man of the Match was Manchester City's number 4, Vincent Kompany

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Random ramblings :

  • The ref was bad,but he was nowhere as bad as some here made him to be,I for one remember that Mikel got away with a yellow card after an obstruction to that cunt.We certainly did not lose the game because of him,and I reckon Drogba can handle physical play better.Anyone calling that reff incompetent should remember the Barcelona game.That said Boyata should have been sent off,no question about it.
  • Ramires grew into the game in the 1st half,but that was only because he was bloody awful in the beginning and for much of the 2nd half.He lost possession one way or another at least a dozen times(one of which lead to the decisive goal).I'm not blaming him cause his still adapting and everything but you can't look over his performance.He will have better games.
  • Can't blame Ancelotti for his changes,it's not like he had many choices.Drogba had to come off cause he was bloody useless;keeping him on the pitch would only give Man City more time with his stimulating and whining,wonder if starting him off the bench like in the United game would be a better choice.Sturridge had a huge chance to prove his worth but he didn't do much,he certainly couldn't change the game from the right wing.McEachran was comfortable but I've come to expect that from him.
  • Credit to Manchester City players for their sublime defending,they may have been dirty more than a few times but they were sound defensibly.They're not half decent,they're better than pretenders like Arsenal but lack the consistency to challenge.
  • Not many top sides will get 3 points at the CoM this season,I've said this before the game and unfortunately we confirmed that.I thin that this was our best chance to beat them for a while,they're still very much a new team and are going through an injury crisis.
  • Zhirkov looked more determined than half our players when he came in,still he cannot play in the midfield.
  • We were defensively sound,bar that one City goal where everyone fucked up we didn't have the shocks we had against them last year,Mikel's performance and their defensive approach certainly helped.
  • Man City are beyond doubt our bogey team,we might as well accept it now.And god I hate that Argie troll.
  • I know most are going to get defensive over this but it really was our first test and we failed.This might cost us in a competitions like the CL.
  • We're top of the league.

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It was a bad game, I like Carlos Tevez, he had what we lacked today: some blood in veins. I dont like ramires, it easy to see that he has talent enough to be a great player, but he is not working. Chelsea has to think about some variants, today its game didnt surprise anyone, too much predictable, City's found the key.

I think that chelsea must to focus energies at Champion's League.

Chelsea is the best, no doubt about it, but has to take care of its important players as kalou. Premier League has to be a training, the objective has to be the Champions League, best of UK, best of Europe, and at 2011's ending, best of the world.

:D

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Random ramblings :

  • The ref was bad,but he was nowhere as bad as some here made him to be,I for one remember that Mikel got away with a yellow card after an obstruction to that cunt.We certainly did not lose the game because of him,and I reckon Drogba can handle physical play better.Anyone calling that reff incompetent should remember the Barcelona game.That said Boyata should have been sent off,no question about it.

How the hell Yaya wasn't booked. Imo he deserved yellow.

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