Manchester City were able to get revenge on Chelsea yesterday with a 2-0 victory and a display that was near the exact opposite to the league fixture 13 days ago. The win put City into the quarter finals of the F.A Cup and still fighting on four fronts. Whereas Chelsea remain in the two ‘bigger’ competitions, with a favourable draw in the Champions League.
City come out with a completely different outlook then they did 13 days ago. They came with a more work man like performance and a lot more fight then they were able to bring to last time out. I have to praise Pellegrini for his team selection and change of formation from a 4-4-2 to a 4-2-3-1. This gave the teams individual make-up a new more energetic look which had more legs by including the likes of Milner and Javi Garcia over Demichelis and Negrado. By playing Milner over Negrado gave City that extra player who was more willing to cover the area of the pitch and limit Chelsea in attack. This is something Mourinho also does in the big games by playing Ramires wide right; able to do a job going forward but is in the team to track back where some players wouldn’t. Secondly picking Garcia over Demichelis gave City more urgency when in possession, Garcia was able to move the ball a lot quicker than what Demichelis could whilst being generally a more athletic player.
Chelsea came out looking fairly lethargic and in all honesty not really at the races. Creating only two shots in the whole 90 minutes is quiet appalling when in the previous fixture we hit the woodwork on three occasions. Of these two shots, one was from around 35 yards by Dave which was more hope than expecting to test the keeper. Some would look to blame team selection, but I feel the team selection was fairly good and fairly similar to the one that convincingly beat City 1-0. However, there could be lesson learnt from the selection, and that is the question over John Obi Mikel. I am/was a massive fan of Mikel and never understood the criticism he gets from a lot of Chelsea fans. But I do now feel it is his time to move on in the summer and allow players who can play going forward as well as holding the midfield together into the team. If you look at other big clubs they have players who can play both ways in the double pivot; Yaya & Fernandinho, Xavi & Iniesta and Luiz & Matic could be ours. If Mikel was on a lower wage I’d say hold onto him, but for what he earns and what he can offer do not match up.
Nevertheless, it’s not all gloom and doom at Chelsea and although we were not great their two goals came from slip ups that never happened during the previous fixture. During the first fixture our holding midfielders were very deep and nearly on top of our centre backs at times, which did not give City space to play in the area just outside the area (zone 14). Both goals came from our two defensive midfielders not dropping deep but trying to press. Once this happened City played the ball into the areas outside the box and we paid the price. For the first goal both DM’s went forward and for the second, Mikel went forward and left Nasri with yards of space.
So from their two goals coming from errors and loss of discipline that did not happen in the first fixture, it gives me huge hope and shows City did not unlock us, they just exploited our mistakes. Secondly, I am gutted we are out of the Cup but, and I know it’s a cliché, City now have more games to play and we have time to focus on the League, hopefully this can help our title bid.