Victory moves Blues to within four points of Arsenal
A second half pair from David Luiz and Ramires were the few moments of note in a game which saw Chelsea leap-frog Manchester City into third in the Premier League table. There was not much attacking flair on display at Stamford Bridge but perseverance won out for Carlo Ancelotti and his side as they gained a valuable victory.
Manchester City had arranged themselves in such a way that Chelsea would have to work hard to break them down and fashion chances for themselves. Having a five man midfield to contend with, Ancelotti’s men found the going tough for much of the first half. Chelsea did open City up after 13 minutes when Salomon Kalou’s run required the assistance of Ramires, but a mix up between the two resulted in the threat subsiding after Ramires brought down his own man letting City off the hook.
Roberto Mancini’s defensive approach worked very well for the visitors in the first half and there was little for the Chelsea fans to cheer as the congested midfield of City nullified Chelsea.
Apart from an early chance for Yaya Toure - which was the direct result of an over-eager David Luiz coming to meet the ball with little thought for the space he was vacating – City had few chances themselves.
As the rather dull first half drew to its conclusion, another half-chance came Chelsea’s way. A slip by Vincent Kompany allowed Kalou to control the ball, swivel and fire his right footed effort at goal, but in truth, Joe Hart didn’t have to stretch himself to catch the ball.
With no changes from either manager at the interval, the game appeared that it would continue as it left off. Chelsea did seem a little more determined after the break and this produced the best chance of the game so far. A run from deep from Fernando Torres was laid off to Florent Malouda who brought Kalou into the action before shooting himself directly at Joe Hart. The frustration around Stamford Bridge was palpable as another chance came and went without the deadlock having been broken.
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As the hour passed it was Branislav Ivanovic who let another chance go by. A cross from the right caught the City defence on its heels and the Serb rose to head the ball goalward but Vincent Kompany was in the right place at the right time to block the ball and save his team from going behind.
With the continuing stalemate Carlo Ancelotti made his changes with 20 minutes left. Birthday boy Torres and Malouda were simultaneously substituted with the proven strike partners, Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka. The dry spell that Torres continues to suffer has now reached seven games.
It didn’t take long for Didier Drogba to make his impact on the game. Less than 10 minutes had passed when a Droga free-kick from almost the corner position proved to be key in breaking this game open. The Ivoirian’s delivery was spot on and the head of David Luiz met the ball and redirected it beyond the sprawling Joe Hart to finally give the crowd a goal to savour.
With such a defensive game for much of the afternoon, a 2-0 result seemed highly unlikely, but as the final minutes ran off the clock, Ramires broke through the City defence to ice the cake and double the scoreline for Chelsea.