Park the bus!
Many thought Chelsea would do just that. Who could blame them? The Blues have been a counterattacking team for the past few seasons, and Jose Mourinho is a defensive-minded coach. Not to mention Manchester City‘s supreme dominance, particularly at home, it would have seemed safe to say in the least. That could not have been further from the truth.
Chelsea came out all pistons firing and all guns blazing. The deceiving 1-0 final score could — and should — have easily been 4-0 as three shots hit the post in City’s favor. Conservative was not a word in Mourinho’s coaching dictionary despite a very defensive lineup. Wave after wave of Chelsea attacks probed an uncharacteristically lackadaisical City back line, and the phenomenal Eden Hazard was deservedly highlighted repeatedly for the magnificent shift he put in, although Nemanja Matic picked up the Man of the Match award.
Yet it can be argued that the whole of Chelsea’s squad deserved the award as they were truly a class above the opposition. The holding pivot of Matic and David Luiz constantly harassed City’s attack, allowing them little to no time on the ball. Willian and Ramires were constantly running back to defend and won a significant number of headers over bigger, stronger players.
The attacking players were fantastic, but it was the defensive back line that should be credited for the win — and not only because of Branislav Ivanovic‘s stunner. The fullbacks were both solid in defense and shifted the ball into the attack with regularity. The center-back duo of Gary Cahill and John Terry were men possessed, showing the grit and strength needed to compete with players like Alvaro Negredo, Edin Dzeko and Yaya Toure. Not only did they contend, the pair were able to out-muscle any player that strayed into the box.
This was the first time Manchester City were beaten at home this season and the first time they were shut out at home since 2010. Many have pointed to the injuries sustained by Sergio Aguero, Fernandinho and Samir Nasri as a difference even before kickoff. Yet it is clutching at straws as all three of those players featured in City’s loss to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge earlier this season.
10 – Chelsea have taken 10 points from four games against the other teams in the PL top four this season. Professional.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 3, 2014
A true stroke of genius by Jose Mourinho and unrivaled character by the Blues made this a fairly comfortable win.
Arsenal will be happy to remain top of the Premier League table but should be wary of their south-London neighbors with only a two-point cushion. The Blues are level in points with City but lose out on goal difference and stay third.
These two teams will meet again at the Etihad for an FA Cup tie on Feb. 15.
This Branislav Ivanovic rocket proved the difference tonight – https://t.co/K7U4Hx8IVw
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) February 3, 2014