Tuesday, February 4, 2014

No New Order after City's Blue Monday

OK, so it's a bad pun which is only relevant if you are familiar with 80s and 90s Manchester music but Manchester City fluffed their lines badly at the Etihad where they had a real chance to lay a marker as the new dominant force in English football.

City will remain favourites to win the title with the bookies but there is an ominous look about Mourinho's Chelsea now.

They are far from a complete side but they are steadily starting to look more 'his' with an uber professional and efficient 0-1 win in Manchester.

After ropey results against Stoke and Sunderland, Mourinho spoke of a necessary change in philosophy and since then Chelsea have simply stopped conceding goals.

Yes they are lacking a top class finisher as the West Ham game showed but they already look far more like the Chelsea of his previous vintage. Mourinho did not show up with negative tactics, he showed up with the right tactics.

As one journalist so succinctly put it (I'd love to take the credit), you don't need to park the bus if you have 'the coach'.

City will be wondering what on earth happened and will point to the absences of Nasri and most pertinently Sergio Aguero who along with Aaron Ramsey and Luis Suarez have been the best three players of the first half of the season.

City have been steam rollering teams with almost willful abandon yet they came up short against a tactically superb Chelsea.

Pellegrini will face questions about his team selection with Demechellis dreadful again - this time in midfield.

Both he and Moyes who perseveres with Phil Jones in midfield must realise that these are out and out centre backs, not a Marcel Desailly of the AC Milan vintage nor a Franck Sauzee who used to move so elegantly in and out of defence for Marseille.

Arsenal may feel they are the big winners here but the reality is they now have two teams to compete with, City missed a chance to deliver a telling blow to Chelsea last night, six points would have been a tough gap to bridge.

For City the job is now to pick themselves up and move on, big games loom against Chelsea again in the Cup and also Barcelona in the Champions League (I actually think City will roll them) as well as the league campaign.

Chelsea have to find a way to add more goals to their defensive frugality, slip ups such as those against West Ham are costly if they are to push for the title.

Eden Hazard again proved his worth last night but it was the centre back pairing of Terry and Cahill that was the bedrock of the win with Ivanovic yet again popping up with a crucial goal as he has done so many times.

The top three appear to be breaking away from the rest. Arsenal will need to prove that they can last the pace especially when the Champions League re-starts and their next few weeks will surely define whether they are pretenders or contenders.

Wenger will be content today but the biggest smile will be on the face of the Portuguezer - No Nonsense.