SVEN KNOCKED FOR SIX
Saturday at Stamford Bridge saw Chelsea hit six goals in the league for the first time since 1997, as they handed Manchester City a lesson in attacking football, with Frank Lampard its chief architect.
Chelsea lined up in a 4-3-3 formation with Cech in goal. Drogba led the line with Joe Cole and Kalou either side – both Malouda and Shaun Wright-Phillips didn’t even make the squad 16 man squad. Essien, Mikel and Lampard started in midfield with a back line consisting of Belletti, Alex, Carvalho and Ferreira, the latter again playing at left back in place of the injured Cole, and suspended Bridge. City lined up in their normal 4-4-2 formation with Chelsea target Micah Richards marshalling the defence, and find of the season Elano looking to pull the strings in City’s attacks.
City, who’d started the season well, were expected to come onto Chelsea rather than sit and defend as they had tried in previous seasons, and come at us they did. The opening exchanges were tetchy and City showed their intent to attack, however their doing so ultimately led to their undoing, leaving gaps in their midfield and spaces everywhere in their defence.
It was in the 16th minute that the first goal of the afternoon came about. Lampard received a ball from Mikel then with a slick two touch move, instantly controlled the ball and then slid an inch perfect pass into the stride of Essien’s run, who then slotted the ball past Hart at the far-post with a low shot.
Chelsea were in the ascendancy and with Lampard pulling the stings, City were chasing shadows and so tried some rough house treatment on the main man. Lampard was bundled over by Richards in a move reminiscent of a scene from WWF, oddly though, Mike Riley not only booked Richards, but also saw fit to book Lampard for his part in it too.
Lampard responded in the best possible way by laying on a pass that was worth the entry fee alone. He hit the ball inside his own half with the outside of his right foot, the pass curled out of Richards’s reach and into the path of Drogba, who steadied himself and fired past the hapless Hart to make it 2-0.
The lads came out for the second half and started with their tails up. Where previously we may have expected Chelsea to close out the game and protect the 2-0 lead, Saturday was different. Chelsea were in many ways irresistible. Whilst City weren’t providing the sternest of challenges, Chelsea’s play was expansive, the passing crisp and intricate, the attack meaningful and the urgency always apparent.
The third came on the 54th minute when Drogba smashed home from inside the box after picking up on a rebound from a Lampard shot, and Hart was again called into action in the 57th minute when he had to be alert to keep out a 15 yard shot from Lampard after he cut through the City defence.
Joe Cole also got on the score-sheet in the 59th as he found space to run into after he knocked on a Drogba header and carried it to the edge of the area, slotting past Hart at his near post to make it 4-0. Then after another ten minutes Cole made way for Shevchenko and took well deserved ovation from the crowd for his performance.
It was another quarter of an hour before Chelsea again changed the score-line. This time it was Kalou, who’d had a good game on the flanks and worked hard for the team, again slotting low past the keeper from the right after Essien had slipped the pass through to him. The City left back, Garrido, was not having an afternoon he’ll want to remember, and I’m sure Sven will be having words with him about his performance.
In the 79th minute, Drogba made way for Pizarro and also received appreciation from the crowd for his efforts, but the game was not over yet. Chelsea continued to press forwards and continued to look for more goals, it was in the last minute that one came, with Shevchenko putting the final touches to a brilliant afternoon by also getting on the score-sheet to make it 6-0 for Chelsea, who’ve also now not conceded in over 360 minutes of football. A statistic that makes Petr Cech a happy man; “The last four games we have played great, we have won them and not conceded” said Cech. “We went through a dark spell in September, but now we are back.”
Chelsea (4-3-3): Cech; Belletti, Alex, Carvalho, Ferreira; Essien, Mikel, Lampard (c); J Cole (Shevchenko 67), Drogba (Pizarro 79), Kalou.
Man City (4-4-2): Hart; Corluka, Dunne (c), Richards, Garrido; Ireland (Vassell 62), Johnson, Hamann (Ball 62), Petrov; Elano (Bianchi 72), Samaras.
Referee Mike Riley.