For those of us that were here when we were not so good, our capitulation at the hands of Manchester City was a throwback to those heady days. From 1-0 up, we somehow contrived to have two many sent off and give away a penalty in a morale crushing 4-2 loss.
All the pre match focus was on the handshake/non handshake issue between Wayne Bridge and John Terry. Craig Bellamy sneered his way past, Terry doing well not to kick his head in. Bridge, as usual, was dignified as he looked Terry in the eye and passed him by, ignoring the outstretched hand of the Chelsea captain. The booing of our former left back bordered on inexplicable.
It was a drab start to the match itself as neither side showed any real attacking impetus. A sweetly struck long range effort from Florent Malouda went close, whilst Lampard had a shot blocked from a free kick.
Ten minutes before half time, Drogba shot over when many expected him to score. Frank Lampard’s scuffed volley fell invitingly for the Ivorian, but he snatched at the first time effort with his left foot, sending it over.
Somehow, there would be two goals before the end of the first half. The first was scored by Lampard, firing past Given after a Joe Cole through ball. The second was a City equaliser, Tevez jinking past Terry and Carvalho and scuffing a finish past stand in keeper Hilario.
Bellamy scored from a tight angle early in the second half to make it 2-1. He easily outpaced John Obi Mikel and with Ivanovic nowhere to be seen, bore down on goal. Hilario was powerless to stop the excellent finish from a tight angle
Belletti was sent on for the terribly disappointing Mikel, and Sturridge for the likewise disappointing Joe Cole. However, Belletti was sent off for clipping the heels of Barry in the penalty area, somewhat harmlessly. Tevez buried the penalty to make it 3-1.
Ballack had already been booked, but he too was dismissed for hacking the Argentine forward on half way. Down to nine men, the Manchester City substitute Shaun Wright-Phillips broke down the right, before squaring to Bellamy to tap home his second.
Amongst all this, Bridge was substituted with an injury, to the applause of the City fans and a smattering of Chelsea fans. Those who treated him otherwise were a disgrace to our football club.
Lampard added a touch of respectability to the scoreline with a well taken penalty after Anelka was brought down by Barry.
However, Bridge and City were more than good enough to take the spoils and move into fourth, whilst Chelsea now have a solitary point separating themselves from the chasing pack.
Chelsea (4-3-2-1): Hilario; Ivanovic, Carvalho (Kalou 68), Terry (c), Malouda; Ballack, Mikel (Belletti 59), Lampard; J Cole (Sturridge 59), Anelka; Drogba.
Manager: Carlo Ancelotti
Manchester City (4-3-3): Given (c); Richards, Kompany, Lescott, Bridge (Santa Cruz 77); Zabaleta, De Jong, Barry; A Johnson (Wright-Phillips 69), Tevez (Sylvinho 89), Bellamy.
Manager: Robert Mancini
Referee Mike Dean