Manchester City 2-0 Chelsea – Lethargic and Lacklustre

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Jose Mourinho branded Arsene Wenger a “specialist in failure” on Friday, seated in the press room at Cobham. If Mourinho had managed a win here, he would have completed a hat-trick over Manuel Pellegrini, who could then have been branded a specialist in succumbing to Jose’s managerial prowess and mind games, having already been defeated on seven occasions. However, with the war of words in the press rooms heating up, Pellegrini, aided by a lethargic Chelsea performance, conducted his talking on the pitch to secure only his second career victory over Mourinho in nine attempts.

Match report

Stevan Jovetic gave City the advantage with a great first-time strike past the despairing dive of Petr Cech moments after having grazed the crossbar with a lobbed effort from a rebound.

And with Pellegrini’s side in firm control of the game, substitute Samir Nasri, who replaced Jovetic on the hour mark, slotted home David Silva’s selfless ball across goal to announce his return from an extended spell on the sidelines. It capped an immaculate City display as they exacted revenge on Jose’s men following our epic league triumph at the most feared stadium in the country a fortnight ago.

City’s energetic pressing (aided by their midweek break due to the adverse weather conditions) resulted in our players being refused space and time to play, and Costel Pantilimon never looked like being troubled. It mirrored our performance at the Etihad 15 days ago, the only difference being it was the sky blue shirts of City who were alert, aggressive and stylish as they sealed their place in the quarter-finals to keep their quadruple hopes alive.

We were, in short, not at the races as we bowed out of world’s oldest football competition to City for the second season in row.

Team selection

While Pellegrini may have sprung a few changes with Tuesday’s intriguing Champions League clash with Barcelona in mind, Mourinho stated his intent with a strong starting line-up, with John Obi Mikel the only unforced change from the team which condemned City to their first league defeat at the Etihad this season.

Ramires, as he did in the league game, started on the right of a three-man attack which consisted of fellow Brazilian Willian and Eden Hazard, who produced an uninspiring performance with only a few glimpses of his recent excellent form. A selection which meant Oscar took his place on the bench at the Etihad for the second time in as many weeks.

Gary Cahill was a surprise inclusion in our starting XI, with the England international looking to have been ruled out with a calf injury sustained during our draw at West Bromwich Albion on Tuesday night. David Luiz filled in for the injured John Terry alongside Cahill, with Branislav Ivanovic, as he did against West Brom, reverting to right-back.

Starting XI: Cech, Ivanovic, Cahill, David Luiz, Azpilicueta, Mikel, Matic, Ramires, Willian, Hazard, Eto’o.

Subs: Schwarzer, Cole, Lampard, Salah, Schurrle, Oscar, Torres.

Summary

We were out-played and deserved to be knocked out of the FA Cup by a slick Manchester City side. We have loftier ambitions though and a lot still to play for.

Keep the Blue Flag Flying High!




There are 17 comments

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  1. Blue_MikeL

    yet again I am surprised by Jose’s starting selection , completely surprised. I am not a manager of course and it is his team, however, I strongly believe I can express opinion. Ramires on the right wing was something that we all have seen since Benitez days. It never worked. Mikel, is a good player but not when one can play Matic and Ramirez in this position. Why on earth start so negatively and then cry about luck of width and luck creativity.

  2. Der_Kaiser

    Just catching up on this. No real complaints – we didn’t really turn up and had too many poor performances to give ourselves a fighting chance and Pellegrini played it right on the day. Disappointing not be going back to Wembley again, but the two league wins over them will (arguably) have more bearing on this season. On to Everton and Galatasaray.

  3. WorkingClassPost

    Thought that we played quite well, considering the lack of importance placed on this year’s Cup and guess that if we’d been six points clear at top of PL it might’ve been a different matter. Looked to me like we would take the win if it had come easily, but we had no intention of stretching ourselves.

    When one team wants to win and the other would rather lose than go to a replay, then there could only be one winner, that said, a goal sneaked in off the post and the other off-side (more so than the one that was disallowed), was hardly convincing for the home boys.

    Torres looked a bit sharper and Hazard should be fresher without a midweek match.

    Luiz and Willian look like mirror opposites to me: A defensive player who likes to attack, and an attacking player who likes to defend; where the other mids defend out of duty, Willian seems to really enjoy that side of the game.

    Tough few weeks ahead of us, but it’s the tough games that we seem to thrive on!

    • Blue_MikeL

      Although I have duplicated the link I have provided completely different comment and hence interpretation. I have the right to reference any source I want while there is no plagiarism 😉

    • WorkingClassPost

      That’s bizarre.

      Did nobody tell Pelegrini that it’s one thing to question a ref’s competence, but quite another to call him a cheat. Wonder what defence his lawyers are working on; the old ‘lost in translation’ one, or maybe ‘just plain nuts’!

    • Cunningplan

      Duplicating links is against the rules on this blog, you have been warned before if I remember correctly. 😉

  4. Day Tripper

    I saw quite a bit of the Milan v Atletico match last night and Courtois’ goalkeeping was absolutely outstanding. If it weren’t for him, Milan would have won. At a very young age for a goalkeeper, he must already be among the best goalkeepers in the world. Dare I say that at the moment he is probably better than Petr Cech? This leaves the club with a dilemma because it is my firm view that you cannot have 2 world-class goalkeepers in the same squad. If it were up to me, I would be bringing Courtois back next season and cashing in on what must still be a decent residual value for Cech. Cech is still an outstanding goalkeeper but he seems to make more errors now than he used to and – dare I say? – he has never quite returned to the form he showed prior to his terrible injury in 2006/2007. Mourinho’s instincts though always seem to be to be loyal to his own and he may resist attempts to offload a goalkeeper who served him so well. I don’t really know how this one will play out. One scenario is that we let Courtois stay at Atletico in exchange for Diego Costa. If we could throw in Fernando Torres, that would be the icing on the cake. And, going off at a tangent, I wonder if there is a recall clause on Patrick Bamford? He may not be fully ready for the step up but he cannot be worse than the current men of straw masquerading as our strikers. Apparently he scored a great goal the other night. Can’t find a link to it at the moment though

    • Ahmed Osoble

      Yes, I saw the highlights of that Milan-Atletico game and he produced some wonderful saves, especially from Poli’s header. And about the transition of Cech to Courtois, I don’t think Cech will be offloaded to a Monaco or Galatasaray. Jose will do the same as he did from Carlo Cudicini to Cech. Cech will just be on the bench more.

      • Der_Kaiser

        Not quite sure that Cech is ready to hand over his gloves just yet; very influential character within the dressing room too. Be interesting to see what happens – goalkeeper is one of the positions that least needs attention at present and Courtois is a very valuable bargaining chip.

        • Cunningplan

          I should also imagine if Courtois is sold or used as some part exchange with Diego Costa, that the probability of some sort of buyback clause might well be written into the deal.

    • WorkingClassPost

      Great strike, but all our forwards are capable of doing same, problem we have is in getting someone to do it with any sort of consistency…

      Not sure about Courtois joining us soon, for once we have good cover with Schwarzer so I’d expect something akin to what Ahmed said, with Cech staying in place until he really needs replacing, then providing backup until he gets bored with the bench.

  5. limetreebower

    Terrific game.

    Most impressed by Everton. But I thought we played well enough to win, on the whole. With some players tiring and/or losing form, our squad depth is coming to the fore.

    The little horse shakes droplets of milk from its lips and fixes its gaze on the next hurdle.


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