Manchester City 0 – 2 Chelsea

Match reports

The Observer, Jamie Jackson: “Chelsea deserve a little of the stuff they sometimes lack – goodwill – for at least keeping the Premier League title race alive with this victory, which maintains the pressure on Manchester United. They deserved this win, though their performance was, like the match, hardly vintage. Still, with Arsène Wenger fielding a virtual second string against Liverpool earlier in the day who could earn only a draw, Avram Grant’s team deserve credit for a surge that has not included a league defeat since 16 December.”

Sunday Times, Paul Forsyth: “Vulnerable they may be under the guidance of Avram Grant, but Chelsea’s title hopes are still alive. An own goal by Richard Dunne and a more conventional strike by their own Salomon Kalou extended an unbeaten league run that stretches back to December and narrowed the deficit by which they trail Manchester United to just two points.”

Sunday Telegraph, Derick Allsop: “Love him or loath him, no one can dispute Avram Grant has kept Chelsea in a Premier League marathon that was surely reduced to two contenders yesterday.”

Independent on Sunday, Guy Hodgson: “This was a stroll on a cool but sunny afternoon for Avram Grant’s team against a City side who have won one match in their last seven and who, apart from a 15-minute spell before half-time, looked like they cannot wait for the season to end. Slow, sloppy and dull, just about the only imagination anyone with Sky Blue affiliation showed came from the announcer on the public address system, who billed the start of the second half as “the push for Europe”. Push for mid-table mediocrity more like.”

Official Chelsea FC Website: “A third straight league win successfully places pressure on Middlesbrough-bound Man United for tomorrow after an own-goal and a Salomon Kalou strike sealed three away points.”

The goals

6′ Dunne (og) 0-1
53′ Kalou 0-2

The highlights

It’s frustrating for fans to see their team being led into a decline by a grey haired man in his fifties, with a funny accent and dressed in a black. I’m talking about City of course. Sven used to know how to play away, but Nancy soon put a stop to that, then he discovered how to play at home but, since the early season of fortress Wastelands, it’s now open season for looting.

We received our customary gift of an own goal courtesy of Richard Dunne so, even though all our forwards were generally ineffective, who needs forwards to score when the opposition do it for us.

Carlo Cudicini had to pull off a great save from Martin Petrov and we looked like it might be a case of Fenerbahce déjà vu, receiving a free goal then giving it away. Another City attack and Ashley Cole had to clear off our line.

But we survived through to half time and not long after Salomon Kalou rounded the keeper in George Best style to slot home our second. Joe Cole replaced Shaun Wright-Phillips and this, in combination with City’s heads dropping, meant that we dominated the remainder.

Nicolas Anelka had his own one on one opportunity with the keeper but fluffed it. Two minutes later, from a fine Frank Lampard cross, he hit the bar and then for the remainder of the game spent his time in an offside position.

For the remaining fifteen minutes we played effective keep ball.

Another three points and another away win help us keep some pressure on Manchester United. However don’t be fooled by the result because our overall display was average but fortunately City were below average and, after our second goal, they became pathetic.

Player ratings

  • Carlo Cudicini: Kept a clean sheet and made one fine save – 7/10.
  • Juliano Belletti: Didn’t get forward as much as he should – 5/10.
  • John Terry: Needs the pace of Ricky alongside – 6/10.
  • Alex: Looked a bit clumsy at times – 5/10.
  • Ashley Cole: Reasonable plus a goal line clearance – 6/10.
  • Michael Essien: Rediscovered his energy. I did read that he was feeling sick after returning from Africa so I may have been harsh in my previous criticism of him – 7/10.
  • Frank Lampard: Decent game and is still our best passer – 7/10.
  • John Mikel Obi: Lots of short passes but has the unfortunate habit of passing to an opponent – 5/10.
  • Shaun Wright-Phillips: City bosses must have been wetting themselves laughing to see what they got £24 million for – 4/10.
  • Salomon Kalou: Average game but took his goal well – 6/10.
  • Nicolas Anelka: Several opportunities all fluffed and looked slow. Either offside or in a praying pose – 5/10.
  • Joe Cole (sub 52 mins for Wright-Phillips): Sensible substitution by Grant.
  • Paulo Ferreira (sub 86 mins for Belletti): Sensible substitution by Grant.

Man of the Match

Michael Essien – plenty of energy and improved passing.

Final thoughts

It’s a shame Arsenal didn’t win today because they need to believe they’re still in with a chance of the title when they visit Old Trafford.

Many of us are highly skeptical of our chances of winning the title, because we’re not convincing and United are, so we’re bracing ourselves for the disappointment of losing the title at some point in the next few weeks. Some of us would probably have liked us to lose at City today so that we can get the disappointment over and done with and the recriminations and post mortems can start in earnest.

But where there’s life there’s hope, and anyway it’s always darkest before the dawn and it has to get worse, before it gets better so the game’s not over till the fat lady sings. A few more clichés and I might start believing we can win the title.

Come on the Boro!

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