The last team to beat Chelsea in the Premiership were Man City back in October last year, that day David James made some vital saves to keep us out. Today he made two good saves that stopped us getting the vital win to go back 11pts clear. The first save came from a Frank Lampard free kick after Damien Duff was fouled just outside the area. The other was in the 93rd minute when Lamps again blasted a shot goal wards after JT won a header in the City area. The first save was one that James didn’t really know about, the ball hit him and with Tiago in the area it was too fast for him to react to when it came out. Lamps strike was the best; James stuck out his right hand only for him to save the powerful shot. It was a day where City parked the bus, but it keeps us ahead of our main rivals and still top of the Premiership.
With Arjen Robben out after being injured on Wednesday night and possibly out for a while we lined up with Mateja Kezman playing the lone striker role, being flanked by Eidur Gudjohnsen and Damien Duff. Joe Cole who was expected to start was on the substitutes bench along with Tiago as Jiri Jarošik started ahead of both. In goal Petr Cech had gone 781 minutes without conceding a league goal, the last being against Arsenal in December. Today he wasn’t really tested apart from a couple of long range shots, so that run in the league is now 871 minutes. City came into the game playing a 4-5-1 formation, Keegan’s teams in the past had been very gung-ho and although they would score a lot of goals, they would always seem to concede more. Over the period of this season his team had got a 0-0 draw against Manchester Utd at Old Trafford and had also drawn 1-1 at Highbury against Arsenal in the league.
Chelsea had a chance in the first half via David James, a shot at the City keeper by Damien Duff was spilt at the feet of Mateja Kezman but Kezman got his feet in a tangle and instead of scoring, the ball went wide. Jiri Jarošik also had a good effort from a corner, but with the ball looking like it was going just over anyhow, James made sure to knock the ball over the bar. Kezman also had a fierce shot from an angle at James but again the City keeper was there to save.
We needed to up the tempo in the second half, with City defending well and having limited chances it seemed as though at some point we would break through. The best early chance came from a low Duff cross, Gudjohnsen looked like all he needed to do was get his foot to it and the ball would have been in the net, however, again it was James who got a touch, just diverting it from Eidur’s foot, with the ball going out for a corner. Bosvelt bought Damien Duff down on the edge of the area, Chelsea players surrounded the ref imploring that he checked with the assistant referee, as they believed it was a penalty, but replays showed that Bosvelt had just clipped Duffer on the edge of the box. When the free kick was eventually taken it was Lamps who shot through the City wall and James was lucky to be in the right place at the right time. City’s defence were holding out.
City were trying to keep possession to run down time as the game edged nearer to the end, Joe Cole came on for Kezman and Tiago came on instead of Jarošik. Joe Cole made one or two decent passes to try and get Gudjohnsen in but many a time Eidur was offside marginally. With five minutes of injury time designated we had the best chance of the game. With two minutes left of injury time it was Lamps shot that James managed to get his wrist to that denied us all three points. With wins a plenty recently a draw isn’t a negative, Jose Mourinho expressed that we needed nine wins and a draw to win our first title in 50 years. This ended up being a draw; we have twelve matches to go and are still very much in the driving seat in the race to win that title. You have to give City some credit, however, when we played them in Manchester we didn’t have Robben or Drogba. Today it was exactly the same, we were without two of our most influential players, but this Chelsea team is resolute, Mourinho knows what we have to do, the players know what we have to do and it’s up to them to show it now with our remaining games to come. Next week a trip to Everton beckons, a difficult game, but with the scent of the title, I’m sure we’ll battle all the way for the victory. Keep the faith!
Chelsea: Cech, Ferreira, Terry, Gallas, Bridge, Lampard, Makelele, Jarošik (Tiago 56), Duff, Kezman (Joe Cole 63), Gudjohnsen.
Subs Not Used: Cudicini, Johnson, Smertin.
Man City: James, Mills, Distin, Dunne, Thatcher, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Bosvelt, Barton, Sibierski (McManaman 85), Musampa, Fowler.
Subs Not Used: Macken, Weaver, Onuoha, Jordan.
Referee: H Webb