Chelsea’s comfortable victory over Manchester City was almost guaranteed from the moment that the City starting XI was announced.
The Blues named an unchanged side from the Champions League clash in Paris in midweek whilst City named a combination of outcasts, teenagers and Fernando. Manuel Pellegrini’s pre-match press conference didn’t make this much of a surprise, but it still killed the game from before a ball was kicked and left it as a pretty ordinary spectacle.
City’s decision to name such a weak side will be the topic of much debate for the remainder of the season, but they seem to deem the League Cup as more desirable than the FA Cup now.
Pedro, who was Chelsea’s brightest spark throughout, hit the post early in the first half as his darting channel runs tested the City defence and allowed Cesc Fabregas to be at his ball-spraying best whilst Willian and Eden Hazard exchanged opportunities to dribble past the opposition. City, for the majority of the first half, defended with maturity and in a resolute manner.
The Blues went ahead when another ball got behind the City defence and a cross found an unmarked, masked Diego Costa to pop home. Unfortunately for Chelsea, City equalised in under two minutes as Kelechi Iheanacho gave another glimpse of his class to create City’s goal.
It was an odd match throughout and, particularly in the first half, was much like a lower league side visiting Stamford Bridge. City’s low block, enthusiasm and inexperience could easily have been Rochdale or Exeter, but Chelsea pulled away within a few early second half minutes as Willian calmly finished a slick flowing move before Gary Cahill blasted home past a poor effort from the City goalkeeper.
Chelsea were effectively given a bye in the last 16 of the FA Cup, but, as the famous saying goes, you can only beat what is put in front of you and Chelsea, with precision and confidence building football, did just that.
Chelsea’s comfort during the middle of the second half was perfectly summed up by Willian, the free-kick master, allowing Eden Hazard to take a wonderfully placed dead-ball situation. The Belgian took full advantage and fired the opportunity into the bottom corner as Caballero stood helplessly, this could be the touch of luck to ignite Hazard’s sloppy campaign.
Diego Costa and Pedro were given a breather as Oscar and Bertrand Traore were given a few minutes, with the latter winning a penalty before the former stuttered his penalty to be safely palmed away by Caballero.
Chelsea reclaimed all their luck at once in this game, it appears, as Traore added a fifth just before the end of the game with a bizarre goal ending up looping into the far corner, afterwards, Eden Hazard and Oscar managed to fluff a two on one counter attack that could’ve added further glory to the drubbing.
Man of the match, without a shadow of doubt, was Cesc Fabregas.
Contribution from Sam Cox