The comeback against Chelsea may prove to be the ‘turning point’ in the season for Man City after the crucial victory takes them within touching distance of Man United. Chelsea found out that a lack of ambition and cutting edge were to cost them, they were, for the most part, defensively sound however were very limited in attack. Only countering and even then they were limited to half chances, the goal that they scored came more from luck than skill, a deflected Gary Cahill shot giving them the lead.
Chelsea set up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, as we can see from the graphic below on the right, Mikel and Lampard were in the 2 with Meireles behind Torres and Ramires and Mata flanking the Spaniard. The problem was that the midfield on the night was generally poor, apart from Mikel, which tells a story in itself. Lampard and Meireles were especially poor, in possession they were slow, Meireles only having a 64% pass completion. Ramires, naturally a central midfielder was deployed on the right, first to neutralize the threat of Clichy and Nasri but also for his energy, however, his end product is one of few negatives to his game, with a 0 out of 2 cross completion. Mata, although normally excellent looked tired and was defensively poor, especially when you consider how Pablo Zabaleta (City’s number 5) was so far forward, on average, for most of the game as shown by the average position graphic.
Image courtesy of WhoScored.com
Conclusively, Chelsea were made to pay for a lack of ambition and being pegged back in to their own half. Also, tactically, there were some decisions that were left wanting, unlike against Napoli. Meireles was brought off for Essien, who gave away the penalty, however if Sturridge came on, Ramires would have moved to his natural central position and Sturridge could have posed an attacking threat down the right. Fernando Torres was also brought off for Didier Drogba who didn’t work as hard as the Spaniard in tracking the ball down. However, this performance wasn’t all negative, defensively Chelsea were excellent for the most part and there was a fight and spirit which wasn’t apparent in some games under AVB. Chelsea are improving, however they need to do it fast as 4th is getting more and more distant.