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West Bromwich Albion
West Ham United
13 December 2011
• Stamford Bridge, London
Referee: M. Clattenburg
• Attendance: 41730
Raul Meireles 34'
F. Lampard 82'
M. Balotelli 2'
What a thrilling end to a pulsating match. There was no floruish of golden chances at Stamford Bridge but the game had an electric atmosphere nonetheless and it was fitting that it ended dramatically. How do you feel about Manchester City's first Premier League loss of the season? Are Chelsea back in the title race? Has Lampard's goal shown he deserves a starting place or not? Let us know in the comment section. That is it from us this evening, thanks for reading.
90' + 4'
Full-time whistle blows and the Chelsea players, fans and their manager are understandably elated. Manchester City looked so promising with Balotelli's early goal setting the tone for the match. Meireles' equaliser midway through the first-half changed the face of the game though and the second half was all Chelsea. Clichy saw red for a second yellow with a third of the game remaining and Mancini's players were chasing shadows for the remainder of the match. Lescott's handball allowed substitute Lampard to hammer home from the spot and give Chelsea 2-1 win on Monday night.
90' + 2'
Ambitious shot from 40 yards from goal on the right wing from Drogba. The striker turns three City players and pelts the ball over the bar with his next touch.
We enter the 90th minute and Chelsea have hold of the ball. The City players look frustrated and it is hardly surprising - they started the game so well. 4 minutes of stoppage time to play.
John Obi Mikel
I hate to gloat, but I kind of predicted Lampard's impact, although I am sure so many of you also did. But Mystic Miles has a ring, does it not? Manchester City look a little rejuvenated after conceding their second goal of the game, but it could be too little, too late. Sturridge comes off for John Obi Mikel as Villas-Boas tightens up in midfield as injury time approaches in west London.
Edin Dzeko has been sent on by Mancini in place of Barry, as the Italian desperately looks for a late equaliser at Stamford Bridge. For Chelsea, Ramires - who has played a blinder in this second-half - comes off for Florent Malouda.
Penalty Goal Frank Lampard
Penalty scored by Frank Lampard! 2-1 Chelsea! There's a brief discussion between the Blues players but Lampard resolutely insists it's his. The substitute absolutely slams the ball down the centre as Jo Hart dives to his left-hand side, and the home side take the lead! The penalty was given, by the way, for a handball by Joleon Lescott.
Penalty to Chelsea!
Another venture forward for City comes to nothing. Barry - who has been a peripheral figure tonight - slides the ball into the centre towards a Chelsea players feet, much to the distress of Balotelli who is stood 10 yards behind him in acres of space. At the other end less than a minute later Ramires gets a shot off just inside the box but the deflected effort bobbles at a manageable pace towards the grateful arms of Joe Hart.
Yellow Card Didier Drogba
Drogba slides in recklessly from behind on Zabaleta and sees yellow for his actions.
Chelsea are hitting dead ends with every attack. This time Sturridge's whipped high ball into the box is cleared by Kompany just inside the box. City show no intent to attack, however, and every time they work their way up the pitch they look resigned to losing the ball quickly to the home side.
Nigel De Jong
Barring a miraculous late revival, Manchester City are playing for the draw in London now. They were unconvincing after the break but have looked even more so since Clichy's sending off. Mancini makes a defensive substitution by bringing on Nigel de Jong for David Silva with 15 minutes remaining.
Yellow Card Ramires
Lampard's arrival is imminent I hasten to add. I mentioned near the start of this LIVE! commentary that he is a born match-winner. Villas-Boas' will be hoping he proves my point this evening as he comes onto the pitch in place of Chelsea goalscorer Raul Meireles.
Our reporter at the game, Wayne Veysey gives us a quick update: "The atmosphere is far livelier in the second half as Chelsea begin to dominate and make home advantage count. Clichy deservedly saw red and Kompany and Yaya Toure are also skating on thin ice after picking up bookings for rash tackles. The game is on a knife-edge now."
The home fans at Stamford Bridge are sensing a win is theirs for the taking now. Chelsea are seeing plenty of the ball and putting plenty of crosses into the penalty area, but the final touch is still evading them. Can City hang on?
Kolo Toure has been sent on by Roberto Mancini as the Manchester City manager targets a recovery and retaliation from his squad. Milner will likely return to midfield. Sergio Aguero is the player sacrificed to throw another defender onto the pitch, and the striker looks glum but accepts his substitution without any fuss.
Yellow Card Oriol Romeu
James Milner is shifted into right-back for now, with Pablo Zabaleta moved onto the opposite flank to cover temporarily for the away team in the aftermath of that red card for City's left-back.
Well, Chelsea really are in pole position now. With a man advantage the home side will no doubt be roared on by their fans as we enter the final third of the match.
Yellow/Red Gael Clichy
It is not a malicious tackle but Gael Clichy is sent off for Manchester City after bringing down Ramires on the edge of the box. His second yellow card of the evening is deserved too, after sticking out his leg unnecessarily to halt the Brazilian's progress. Mancini's side reduced to 10-men - will we see a reaction?
In a rare second-half City attack Silva attempts to ghost through three Chelsea defenders but is unsurprisingly thwarted in his efforts. Vallas-Boas will be delighted with the home side's reaction after half-time, but can they keep the pressure up on the visitors?
The Chelsea fans love this: Mata sprints down the left past the halfway line before pausing briefly and nutmegging City captain Kompany and continuing his run goalwards. A few seconds later he is deemed to have been fouled and play is halted, much to the disgust of the Belgian centre-back. You get the feeling his anger was half towards himself for the nutmeg!
Quite how Toure is without a booking is beyond me! The former Barcelona star attempts to rake his studs down Ramires' calf as the Brazilian uses his pace to turn past him. Referee Mark Clattenburg is obvilious to the City midfielder's indiscretions, however.
It has been all Chelsea since play restarted. The crowd are far more cheery than they were this many minutes into the first half.
A free-kick is whipped in from the wide right and the ball falls to Sturridge's feet, with the English striker powering his several inches over the bar with his right foot.
Yellow Card Gael Clichy
The City players are back out on the pitch, as are the Chelsea players too now. Only a few moments until the final 45 minutes kicks off.
A quick reminder of how the table will look if the scores remain the same: Chelsea will move up a place to fourth, knocking Arsenal down to fifth in the process. Man City will remain top but their lead over Man United will be restricted to three points.
He may not have been omnipresent for the hosts so far, but Drogba has had an unmistakeable swagger when he has the ball at his feet. At the opposite end of the pitch it has been Aguero who was giving defenders nightmares. Balotelli's cool finish for the City goal was admirable but it was the former Atletico Madrid striker who made the goal with a twisting turn past Blues skipper Terry and delicate ball with the outside of his boot to his fellow forward. Who do you think will be the most prominent attacking threat in the 45 minutes?
Is the game living up to its billing for you? It could certainly not be described as lifeless - both top flight teams clearly want to leave Stamford Bridge with all three points this evening.
With game tied at 1-1 you would wager Villas-Boas will go into the dressing room at half-time the happier of the managers. Mancini will not be too disappointed but they looked so electric at the start of the match that it was almost a shame to see their head of steam evaporate as Chelsea got back into the match.
A half-time report from Goal.com's reporter at the match, Mr Wayne Veysey: "Honours are even at the end of a lively opening period, which began with Man City looking irresistible and Chelsea extremely shaky. But the home side hung in there, survived a stonewall penalty appeal when Silva was upended and ended the half in reasonable fettle. Conditions are tough, with a strong, icy wind complementing the driving rain. Expect more mistakes after the break."
45' + 2'
That is the half-time whistle! Chelsea went 1-0 down in only the second minute when Mario Balotelli made a mockery of their defence and calmly slotted in to give Manchester City the lead. However, despite regularly troubling the home side's goal, the visitors were unable to fashion another clear-cut chance and 34 minutes in Raul Meireles put Villas-Boas' team level from former Citizen Daniel Sturridge's cross.
45' + 1'
A foul by Meireles gives City back possession. The ex-Liverpool player needs to be careful as he is alreay on a yellow card.
Chelsea have control of the ball as we enter two minutes of stoppage time.
With half-time apporaching it is difficult to say which side is on top. At the moment it is 2 minute snippets of possession for either side as they take it in turn to try and take the lead at Stamford Bridge.
Yellow Card Vincent Kompany
Silva and Milner have swapped flanks since the start, with the former Valencia winger now facing Bosingwa on Chelsea's right.
Yaya Toure and Balotelli play a elightful one-two before the Italian switches play to the left. Aguero is put through by teammate David Silva but the Argentinian is offside.
The home side have deepened their defensive line significantly since the start of the game. As a result they appear to be dealing with their opponents runs much better.
Yellow Card Raúl Meireles
Assist Daniel Sturridge
Goal Raúl Meireles
Chelsea have pulled a goal back! It is 1-1! John Terry lashes the ball aerially to Daniel Sturridge on the right wing. The former City forward fools Clichy into thinking he will take the ball on the defender's inside, but he turns towards the byeline before dinking it into the box where Raul Meireles is waiting to slam the ball into the back of the net!
Another snippet of info from Goal.com's man at the stadium: "AVB and Mancini are both animated, fidgety figures down on the touchline, just in front of the press box. With the rain continuing to belt down, their matching black trenchcoats are both sopping wet. Nevertheless, both are keen to relay tactical instructions to their players, with Sturridge twice being singled out by his manager for words of advice/encouragement."
Silva took a slight knock and nows he is the player who is on the floor. It looks like he will also be fine to continue in a match that is being broken up somewhat by this pauses in play.
Chelsea fans will be delighted to hear the Ivory Coast international is back on his feet. He is hobbling a little but he should be fine. The game remains 1-0 as we enter the 30th minute.
After a lightning quick goal and frantic first few minutes, the game's pace has calmed considerably. Drogba has another shot on goal with his right foot in front of goal - 30 yards or so out - but the former Marseille man shoots wide of Hart's right upright. He seems to have injured his planted leg and is receiving medical attention on the pitch.
Drogba collects the ball on the right-hand edge of Joe Hart's box and runs at the Man City back-line, putting the ball onto his left 15 yards out from goal and shotting low and wide of the near post. The England shot-stopper seemed to have the goal covered mind, but the Ivorian is making his presence in the game known nonetheless.
Now Chelsea are struggling to put . They are visibly rushed as they look to grapple a hold on the home match. A penetrating run from Milner leads to a cross from the versatile midfielder, before crossing it deep to the far post but Aguero's shot s stretched and goes way, way over the bar.
Yaya Toure comes in from behind and Juan Mata eventually falls to the floor and a foul is called. The Ivorian kicks out (softly, I must add) at Mata's right leg and the powerful midfielder is lucky to come away from the situation without a booking.
Balotelli fires a free-kick high, wide and not very handsome. The striker is evidently brimming with confidence and he is proving to be a handful for the Chelsea back-four.
Wayne Veysey with another update from the Bridge: "We've got driving rain and hail here at the Bridge, coupled with a strong wind, which is making for difficult playing conditions and for perhaps a few more mistakes than might otherwise have been expected. City look deadly every time they attack. The away fans have not quite taken their full ticket allocation in the away end but are in good voice, gleefully their manager with chants of 'Mancini, Mancini'."
Silva is just about to shoot inside the box but Bosingwa's outstretched leg appears to bring him down to earth. The referee, Mark Clattenburg, is having none of it and play continues with Chelsea back on the ball.
At the other end, Aguero has a shot on goal, firing wide of Cech's left post at waist hieght after turning Bosingwa in the box after a mazy, pacy run. Plenty of action early on.
Meireles has a shot from 30 yards out after a lengthy spell of passing from Villas-Boas' men, but the Portuguese midfelder sees his shot deflected over.
Goal.com's man at Stamford Bridge, Wayne Veysey, reports: "No sign of the Chelsea players flocking to AVB to commisserate with the Chelsea manager in the new spirit of togetherness the Portugese is trying to engineer after goals. Instead, there are quizzical looks among the home side after Aguero's delightful defence-splitting pass was gathered by the on-side Balotelli, who nonchalantly rounded Cech and tapped into the net. Questions will inevitably be asked about the highness of the Chelsea defensive line."
The home fans are - unsurprisingly - muted in the aftermath of that goal.Chelsea have, however, seen more possession since the visitors went 1-0 up and are looking to worm their way back into the tie.
Goal for Balotelli! The Italian striker has scored in eight successive starts! The game had began quietly but Aguero twisted away from John Terry and slotted the ball through to the 20-year-old forward who had beaten the offside trap. He sprints away from Ivanovic and knocks it past Cech who runs to challenge him and slots the ball into an open goal. 1-0 Man City!
Assist Sergio Agüero
Goal Mario Balotelli
Manchester City, playing in black and red vertical stripes, get the game under way at Stamford Bridge.
Under 5 minutes until kick-off. Who will make the difference tonight? Can Didier Drogba carry his form over from last week’s 3-0 win against Valencia? Will John Terry be able to successfully marshal his defence to negate the threat posed by Balotelli, Aguero and David Silva? Or will Mancini’s men claim another scalp and extend their lead at the top of the table?
Are you sceptical that City have really been THAT good this season? Well, their 38 points from the first 14 matches is the most picked up in the English top flight since Liverpool in the 1990-91 campaign. They were underwhelming on the European stage, yes, but I imagine the prospect of toppling their rivals Manchester United as Premier League champions was always the top target at the Etihad Stadium.
A decade ago it was Chelsea fans who saw their club suddenly have a mega-rich owner, nowadays City are the side you associate with vast wealth. Chelsea are hardly money minnows though: £50 million for Fernando Torres is proof owner Roman Abramovich is willing to dig deep in his pockets when he wants to. Hopefully the match being nicknamed ‘El Cashico’ will live up to its pre-match hype.
The last time these two titans clashed (in the aforementioned two goal victory for the London team) there were 7 yellows brandished by the referee Chris Foy. A full-blooded affair could once again be on the cards, and with Mario Balotelli on the pitch you just never know what might happen!
This fixture last season finished 2-0 to Chelsea with Brazilian duo David Luiz and Ramires on the score sheet. However, the Citizens are arguably more of a force to be reckoned with this season and have been in incredible form in their domestic games – they remain the only unbeaten club in the league.
Lampard would have made his 350th Premier League start for Chelsea if Villas-Boas had recalled the England midfielder into his starting line-up. Much has been made of his fall from favour in 2011 in the eyes of Three Lions coach Fabio Capello and, subsequently, his club coach Villas-Boas too. But you cannot deny the man is a goalscoring threat and if he does enter the fray tonight you would put money on him making his mark on the match.
The Stamford Bridge boss has already conceded his squad will be realistically out of the running if they do not come away from the game with at least a point. The Portuguese coach has eased fears he would be sacked after securing three 3-0 wins in four matches, but a loss tonight will surely pile the pressure right back on him.
So which manager do you think will come out on top tonight? Villas-Boas may have navigated his side through the Champions League group stages unlike his adversary Mancini, but the 34-year-old coach will have his work cut out for him tonight against an attacking City line-up. Gone are the days when Mancini lived up to the Italian stereotype of playing defensively – his squad have notched up an eye-watering 48 goals in 14 Premier League games so far this season.
Of course, that last sentence could come back to haunt me. Trips to London this campaign have proved fruitful for Mancini’s men on all but one occasion – Fulham held them to a 2-2 draw at Craven Cottage. Their most impressive triumph came in a 5-1 walloping at Tottenham’s ground, but wins at the Emirates Stadium (in the League Cup) and QPR have proven the capital of no concern for the Citizens.
Mario Balotelli and Sergio Aguero will provide the firepower for the visitors, with four changes implemented from their 5-1 victory over Norwich City last weekend. Samir Nasri and Edin Dzeko are notable absentees from the 11 players which Roberto Mancini has picked for what will likely be a tough tie at Stamford Bridge.
Just the one change in the home side’s starting line-up as right-back Jose Bosingwa steps in for suspended centre-back David Luiz – Branislav Ivanovic will undoubtedly shift into the middle from full-back. Manager Andre Villas-Boas has once again chosen to omit high profile pair Frank Lampard and Fernando Torres. But could they make an impact from the bench?
Manchester City: Hart; Zabaleta, Lescott, Kompany, Clichy; Milner, Barry, Y Toure, Silva; Balotelli, Aguero. Subs: Pantilimon, Savic, K Toure, De Jong, Nasri, Johnson, Dzeko.
Chelsea: Cech; Bosingwa, Terry, Ivanovic, Cole; Romeu, Ramires, Meireles; Sturridge, Drogba, Mata. Subs: Turnbull, Ferreira, Mikel, Malouda, Lampard, Kalou, Torres.
Hello, good evening, and welcome to Goal.com’s live commentary of Chelsea v Manchester City. My name’s Miles Chambers and I will be keeping you all up to date with what’s happening in this clash between two major pre-season title contenders. Line-ups coming right up.
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