Manchester City v Chelsea – Match Preview

Our bore draw on Wednesday night, courtesy of West Ham’s “19th century” football, coupled with Manchester City’s 5-1 win over Tottenham, left us three points behind Manuel Pellegrini’s aesthetically pleasing side. Jose Mourinho may say we are not embroiled in a title race, but we inevitably are. To be three points off the leaders at this stage of the season leaves you in a position where a title tilt is in your reach. However, we face a daunting task to evict the Manchester club from top spot, and Monday night presents us with a game we simply cannot afford to lose as we prepare for our first of two games at the Etihad in the space of 15 days.

City, who have surpassed the century mark in terms of goals, lived up to their free-scoring tag as they hit five past a stunned Spurs at White Hart Lane on Wednesday night, while we were unable to break down a stubborn Hammers defence. It was inevitable we would rue Juan Mata’s departure at some stage, but even I did not expect it to proceed in such a rapid manner. While the Spaniard was experiencing a dream debut at Manchester United, providing the assist for Ashley Young’s scintillating strike, we were desperately struggling to open up a resolute West Ham. There is hardly anyone more efficient than Mata when it comes down to delivering the pass to slice open a sturdy back-line. We may have to adopt and slightly adjust the tactics employed by Sam Allardyce if we are to become the first Premier League side this season to leave the Etihad with at least a point.

Jose has been on somewhat of a expectation and pressure temperation campaign for the large part of this week, denying our embroilment in the title race and saying we too could be hit for five or six. The Portuguese pragmatist also claimed a top four finish is our sole aspiration and that he had preferred a City victory over Spurs in order to open up a gap between the two sides in thought of Champions League qualification. I don’t believe Jose, but if he is in truth airing his deep views, it would be almost suicidal not to play for the title at this stage of the season being three points off the summit whilst boasting an increasingly impressive squad as we do.

We saw it at Old Trafford in August and at the Emirates in December. Mourinho is prepared to play out a stalemate, with the avoidance of defeat his main objective. We have relied on our solidified defence, which will be further bolstered by the signature of potential future captain Kurt Zouma, to keep our rivals out in those two fixtures, but Monday night presents a much more arduous examination as we travel to the so-called “torture chamber”, where the likes of Tottenham and Arsenal have been ruthlessly dispatched this term.

But City are a team which can score goals to their heart’s content, and also leak them at the other end. It is why, however absurd it may sound, we stand a more refined chance of coming out of the Etihad with three points than we did at Old Trafford and the Emirates. My way of thinking is built around City’s Argentine defender Martin Demichelis, a kamikaze-like favourite of Pellegrini and an absolute shambles alongside the sometimes-dodgy Vincent Kompany. While at Arsenal we were faced with the solid duo of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny, we are now confronted with a shaky partnership we should definitely target with our ammunition of Eden Hazard, Willian and co.

It further contributes to my inability to understand our general pessimism in the build-up to Monday night. We can win the title because our squad is just as impressive as City’s, we boast the best manager in world football, we are only three points off the top, we have beaten them already (at the Bridge) and they have Demichelis…

Keep the Blue Flag Flying High! And c’mon you Chels!

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  1. Der_Kaiser

    Should be noted that the narrative that has arisen from our shutouts at Old Trafford and the Emirates is a little misleading. We restricted both sides to a few half chances but had more shots on target in both games. Mourinho’s criticism of West Ham’s ’19th century football’ has been called hypocritical by the media because of what they perceived his approach to be in those two games, but on closer inspection it really isn’t the case. Controlled, patient football away from home is a very different thing to just parking the bus as West Ham did. I imagine that we’ll see a similar approach tonight.

    • Ahmed Osoble

      Agree with you there, Johnny. City will undeniably be harder to shut out with their abundance of attacking prowess. With Demichelis at the back, I think we can nick this one on the counter.

    • Cunningplan

      Bloody spot on with your assessment on Utd and Arsenal games JD. It’s gets me soooo wound up when I read and hear the pundits spew out the nonsense on how we supposedly parked the bus in those games.

      They also need to look again at the first half of the game against Citeh, we nearly ripped them a new one and should have been at least three goals up by half-time

  2. limetreebower

    A bit strange to go into a game where we’re clear (though narrow) underdogs. Funnily enough we’ve tended to do quite well in this situation (see Barcelona passim).

    And as I write we’ve taken the lead, and are apparently bossing midfield. Perhaps I should nip down to the pub for the second half.

  3. Cunningplan

    What a fucking performance excuse language, but there isn’t any other words to describe that.

    PS I did say I felt quietly confident about tonight. 😉

    • GrocerJack

      You did Clive, but proper pessimists like me still hold dark memories of Chelsea past, hence our sense of gloom. Listen to the next Podding Shed, now in the can and enjoy, because it’s a real celebration of last night.

      • Cunningplan

        I shall look forward to listening in tomorrow Tony. I hope there’s some music from Donal to add to that celebration.

      • Ramone

        I am a proper pessimist too. But seeing as 2-0 is the most dangerous lead in football, I was very happy to hang on with just the one.

        And yes, as we’re in a temporary celebratory mood some music or poetry from Donal would be excellent. Can I request Liquidator on the bontempi organ ? But not too quietly.

  4. limetreebower

    I thought going to the pub might jinx it. Maybe I was right.

    Well done us. Some words will have to be eaten tomorrow. Off to prepare for MoTD2 now.

  5. Blue_MikeL

    Great game, spectacular win! Matic what a player, Hazard incredible! Jose with slight tactical touch on attacking the ball in midfield reduced them to mediocre team. Simply unbelievable!

  6. limetreebower

    I didn’t even watch the match but I got so excited I spent most of yesterday evening shouting.

    Now I’m a little hoarse.

  7. limetreebower

    Meanwhile, in some rain-sodden Lancastrian shithole, a little beardy Spanish midfielder grips the steering wheel tighter as he drives to the training ground and wonders whether he hasn’t perhaps made a truly awful mistake …

  8. Cunningplan

    Another thing the statisticians should change when it comes to goal attempts, if you hit the frame of the goal it should be classed as ON target.

  9. WorkingClassPost

    recently switched back to Firefox and now it seems to be having trouble showing the latest post, so I missed the chance to join the pre-match discussion, never mind, post match it is, and what a match!

    Superb, and like Ahmed and others here, not entirely surprised, but no less delighted, with an awesome display.

    Perhaps the most revealling thing for me was the reaction of some Arsefans who’d turned up to watch the match [not sure why they bothered, must’ve thought that they can win the title].
    Didn’t recognise them and thought they must be mancs until they roundly cheered our goal, obviously concluding that we’d dented City’s challenge, but by the end, they were sitting quite shell-shocked, having just seen what real football looks like, not that pussy footie stuff that they dish up.
    So they left the pub still in first spot, but rather than happy, they all looked thoroughly dejected.

  10. Dirk Gently

    Ahmed Osoble, you were spot on! Exactly as you expected. Do you have an insider link to JM and his team?

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