It all started so well on a very wet and windy night at Stamford Bridge when Aguero received the ball just inside the Chelsea half, found his way out of a dead end and threaded a perfect ball to Balotelli who's perfectly timed run gave him the space to run at the goal with Ivanovic struggling to catch up. He still had a lot of work to do though as Cech came out to meet him and Ivanovic tried to put in a challenge from behind. Mario oozed pure class by effortlessly easing the ball around Cech and neatly slotted the ball into the back of the net. Less than 2 minutes on the clock and City were already 0-1 up at Stamford Bridge.
City totally dominated the next 30 minutes with some exquisite one-touch passing which left Chelsea chasing shadows for the most part. Even when they didn't have the ball they gave Chelsea little room to breathe, closing down players quickly and forcing errors. However, City failed to capitalise on some very good chances as well as having a very good penalty shout turned down by Clattenburg.
Silva jinked his way into the penalty area, ending up on the deck as he passed Bosingwa who stuck out a leg and made contact with Silva's knee. Clattenburg waved play on. How he could just wave play on is a mystery as the call had to be either a penalty to City or a yellow card to Silva for diving if Clattenburg felt it wasn't a penalty.
Chelsea managed to find their way back into the game against the run of play after 34 minutes when Daniel Sturridge managed to get around Gael Clichy and whip in a cross which was met by Raul Meireles. It was good movement by Meireles although the defending could, and should have been better. Zabaleta could have come closer to him (although he would have left the far post unguarded) and Yaya Toure stopped tracking him the closer he got to goal.
Meireles was lucky to still be on the pitch after that as he committed a studs high challenge either side of that goal. First he caught Silva and the calf after he was 2nd to the ball and then caught Zabaleta's knee in very similar circumstances. Only one of these was punished with a card, yet both were yellow card offences. Both sides returned to the dressing rooms with 11 men and all to play for at half time.
Things took a turn for the worse for City after the restart as Gael Clichy was booked for pulling back Sturridge just inside City's own half. A needless foul given Clichy's pace and the position of other players. He then received a second yellow 11 minutes later after a rash challenge on Ramires, leaving City with 10 men for the next half an hour.
To their credit, City defended well and limited Chelsea's chances despite the lion's share of possession they now had. It wasn't until the 81st minute that Chelsea managed to gain the lead through a Frank Lampard penalty. Daniel Sturridge's shot from just inside the 18 yard box hit Joleon Lescott's arm as he dived to block the ball. It wasn't intentional by any stretch of the imagination, but his arms were high and a penalty was given.
City put up a good fight and still managed to cause Chelsea some problems to the point that it looked as though Chelsea had the man sent off for a short spell, but it wasn't to be. Chelsea's players and staff rejoiced like they'd just secured the quadruple, as did several of SKY's commentary staff.
City have now played Spurs, United, Liverpool and Chelsea away from home, winning 2 drawing 1 and losing 1. 7 points away from home to 4 of the 5 closest title challengers is nothing to be sniffed at. Although there were a couple of disappointing performances from some players last night, the team as a whole can hold its head up high despite the defeat.
Cue the 'resurgent Chelsea' and 'the wheels falling off at City after crashing out of the Champions League' comments from people who either didn't watch the game or should really know better.
Arsenal visit the Etihad on Sunday. Although they're looking good in attack, their depleted defence may just take a beasting after the disappointment of the result last night.
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