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February 4, 2014
• Etihad Stadium, Manchester
Referee: M. Dean
• Attendance: 47364
B. Ivanović 32'
Someone else City no doubt missed tonight was Fernandinho - but Manuel Pellegrini will simply have to take stock and go again when his side play Norwich City next in the Premier League. That wraps up our coverage for tonight and we hope you enjoyed what was an absolutely enthralling game. I've been Tim Poole and, until next time, take care.
Chelsea, who were simply excellent in all departments tonight, now move level on points with City, whose superior goal difference keeps them in second place. Arsenal remain two points above both - and the Premier League title race remains as captivating as it has been for many, many years.
City had their chances, though, and perhaps Sergio Aguero would have taken them had he been fit. As it was, David Silva, Yaya Toure and even substitute Stevan Jovetic couldn't beat Petr Cech - no matter how hard they tried.
Another caveat to add to Jose Mourinho's scrapbook, then, as Chelsea finally end City's reign of terror at the Etihad. Eleven wins from 11 becomes 11 from 12, as a first-half winner from Branislav Ivanovic - and a tactical masterclass from the Special One - is enough to give the Blues three vital points at the home of their great rivals.
FULL-TIME: Manchester City 0-1 Chelsea!
90' + 4'
90' + 4'
Headed clear by substitute Ba! Then Cahill heads the ball away! No luck for City! And finally, Nastasic miskicks the final chance of the game!
90' + 3'
SAVE!! There's still life in City yet, as Kolarov plays the ball to Jovetic, who curls a shot from outside the box and forces a great save from Cech! Hazard now comes off in another substitution designed to delay the game. One final corner...
90' + 2'
John Obi Mikel
90' + 2'
Yellow Card Willian
90' + 2'
Manchester City are one minute away from dropping their first Premier League points at home this season.
90' + 1'
Navas breaks down the right and lifts a cross into the box - but Cahill is there to clear for a corner! It's Navas again who whips the set-piece into the box but Willian is then there to clear. John Obi Mikel then replaces the Brazilian, who has been impressive today.
The fourth official holds up his board and there will be THREE minutes of added time. Will there be late drama or will Chelsea go level on points with their hosts?
As much as the visitors have been impressive tonight, however, City have had their chances - and not taken them. Silva, in particular, has missed two good opportunities, as the home fans whistle in concern with a minute to go.
"Jose Mourinho!" chant the Chelsea fans. The Special One is minutes away from yet another 'special' victory. But can City get back into this one late on? Pellegrini looks rather anxious in these dying embers.
Yellow Card Matija Nastasic
On the counterattack, Chelsea had two against one, as Nastasic pulled Oscar to the ground! The incident was next to the half-way line, however, so was only worthy of a yellow card - not a sending off.
Despite attempts from Kompany, Navas and Kolarov, City can't break the Chelsea back line down. But they are getting closer, if anything. They then win another corner but it is cleared and there's a foul in the middle of the park, as Chelsea players appeal for a red card!
And now a corner to City! Kolarov brushed Willian off the ball but no foul was given, prompting Ramires to swoop in and knock the ball in behind.
Corner to Chelsea! Nastasic knocks it off and Hazard plays it short to Willian. The Blues look keen to waste as much time on the ball as they can, although the Belgian then quickly pulls the trigger and tries to slip Ramires through in the box. The pass is a little too far ahead of the Brazilian and Hart comes out to collect.
Now comes the change, Oscar comes on for Samuel Eto'o. The Cameroonian has had a productive game and takes his time as he walks off. Not for the first time this season, Chelsea are now operating without a recognised striker. Oscar drops slightly in behind Hazard.
City continue to push forward, although first Dzeko gives the ball away - and then Zabaleta, whose cross is simply awful as it floats off for a goal kick. Oscar waits in the technical area.
CORNER TO CITY! Toure tries to thread an intricate through ball to Silva but it is deflected off for a corner. However, from the ensuing set-piece, Navas absolutely wastes his cross, which goes straight to Cech. Oscar looks ready to come on, in the meantime...
Luiz didn't impress there, though, as he sent yet another shot way over the bar. It's a good thing he's a defender... He certainly can strike a football - but most of his shots seem to sail hopelessly wayward. Meanwhile, Willian is given offside as Chelsea almost catch City off-guard with another rapid counterattack.
Will Mourinho's side hold on? He seems to have got his tactics spot on so far this evening, with Matic and Luiz impressing in midfield and Hazard, Willian and Ramires using their pace to great effect on the counter.
CHANCE! It's John Terry of all people in the penalty area trying to get the ball past Hart! And he does so - but his shot is dealt with by Toure. This has been a truly brilliant game here at the Etihad and it isn't over just yet.
Straight up the other end we go, as Chelsea win themselves a corner. A goal at this point would be crucial...
OH, WHAT A CHANCE! The ball is worked out wide and Kolarov sends another great cross into the area - if there's one thing the full-back can do it's cross! But Spaniard Silva gets on the end of it and can only fire wide. How costly will that prove?
It comes to nothing, though, and Pellegrini looks disappointed. His side have just 15 minutes (plus injury time) to salvage something from this game now. At least if it's not their 100 per cent home record, might they manage to stay unbeaten?
SAVE! Perfect execution from Silva but Cech makes an outstanding save after the ball is curled towards the top right corner! City then press again and win themselves another corner.
FREE KICK! Jesus Navas, Silva and Toure now link up, with Willian eventually bringing Toure down! However, there doesn't look to be much in the challenge, although City won't care as they have a free kick right on the edge of the penalty area. Silva and Kolarov are standing near it.
Jovetic has the game's next shot - but it is a poor one. Under little pressure, the striker hits a low effort well wide of goal. It seemed to limp out for a goal kick.
Ramires now forces a save from Hart! This has developed into a truly sensational encounter at the Etihad. But, then again, we never doubted it, did we?
And now Cahill clears from inside the six-yard box for Chelsea! City are finally starting to threaten and we have an absolutely end-to-end game on our hands! It was a great break from the home side, with Pablo Zabaleta crossing it into the area. Jovetic got on the end of it but Cahill slid in and knocked it away.
POST!! Willian needs two attempts to take the corner and it's Cahill who gets on the end of it and heads the ball against the woodwork! From the left side of the area, he headed straight against Hart's right post and the England 'keeper was rooted to the spot. Chelsea could have been 4-0 up by now!
The home side aren't giving up here, however, as they continue to push forward and win free kicks in the Chelsea half. Their final product has really let them down today, though, something in no small part down to great defending from the Blues. Matija Nastasic does some defending of his own now, though, giving a corner away.
More trickery from Hazard unleashes Ramires again, although the Brazilian is this time offside. To reiterate, Hazard has been simply sublime tonight. He came to Stamford Bridge with a hefty transfer fee but most will argue he was worth every penny.
Great pass! Matic, another strong performer tonight, plays in Ramires with a great ball but the Brazilian can't unleash the next pass in the move. He was inches away from feeding Eto'o in but a good sliding challenge denied him.
Over! It wasn't the most spectacular free kick from Kolarov, who did get some dip on the ball - but not really enough. Cech was untroubled as the ball sailed over the bar. Half an hour remains here and Chelsea are looking good value for their lead.
Another foul now, this time from Luiz on Jovetic, whose trickery is beginning to take effect. The free kick is within shooting distance - around 25 yards from goal.
FOUL! Toure brings down Willian - and the Ivorian isn't happy with the referee for giving the free kick! Toure is visibly frustrated and he really couldn't deal with Willian's pace there. From the resulting set-piece, Chelsea play the ball back to Cech but his kick is wayward and goes off for a throw-in in the City half.
It's Alvaro Negredo who makes way for Jovetic in the end in a like-for-like swap. This hasn't been one of the Spaniard's best nights, that's for sure. But what can his replacement offer for the home side?
FREE KICK! Chelsea now win a free kick roughly 30 yards from goal and it's Luiz to take it once again. The Brazilian does better than his first-half effort, although his shot still can't beat the wall.
Chelsea now fight for possession in midfield but Silva is able to steal the ball off them and the Etihad crowd are audibly buoyed by the Spaniard's commitment.
INCOMING! Jovetic is indeed about to come on for the home side. Can he change things? Perhaps a more important question is who will make way?
CROSSBAR! City, on the other hand, look worried every time Chelsea come forward and it's Matic who almost punishes them this time. He is played in by Willian a few yards outside the penalty area and hits a thunderous drive towards goal. He isn't far off, as he smashes the ball against the bar!
WIDE! A reasonable move from City now ends with Toure flashing a shot just wide! That's their first real chance of the half but the Ivorian had to take a rushed effort. Chelsea not too troubled by that one.
Hart collects the corner but City look very weak at the back right now. They have leaked goals at times this season but no one has been able to punish them for it, especially at the Etihad. Their phenomenal strikeforce has usually made up for any defensive discrepancies.
CHANCE! Chelsea push forward this time, though, as a cross into the box is cleared, before Luiz wins the ball back for the visitors. It was complete chaos for City in defence once again and the Blues have their second corner of the match.
Stevan Jovetic is warming up for the home side. Once again, it looks like Pellegrini's answer to not scoring will be... to throw on another striker. His side are trying to go forward early in this second half, though, as a cross is played into the danger area and Dzeko heads wide under pressure from Gary Cahill.
And we're off! Chelsea get us started and there haven't been any changes at the break.
The players are out for the second half, anyway. We're almost set to resume the action!
A lot of reaction across the world of social media has reflected on Martin Demichelis' performance in that first half. The centre-back is playing out of position but has still got plenty of criticism for his display before the break. The Argentine was out of position for Ivanovic's goal - and that wasn't the only time.
Currently, all the momentum is with the Blues. But will it continue after the break?
Ramires, Willian and Samuel Eto'o, too, have found pockets of space in key areas, with City taking more and more of a backseat as the half progressed. Manuel Pellegrini's side started well but Jose Mourinho's men sat back well, dealt with any early threats and countered their way into the lead later in the half.
So it's Chelsea who have struck first tonight, Branislav Ivanovic putting the Blues ahead with a great goal after 32 minutes. Eden Hazard was involved in the build-up - and that was hardly a one-off contribution. The Belgian has been terrific for Chelsea and the Manchester City defence have struggled to deal with him all night.
HALF-TIME: Manchester City 0-1 Chelsea. Jose Mourinho is the first to walk off at the break, quick as lightning.
45' + 1'
Chaos in the Man City defence as Chelsea put more pressure on them! At this rate, City's 100 per cent home record this season will be over! This was always going to be the game that gave Pellegrini the most trouble. However, expect his side to come out firing after half-time - even without the talismanic Sergio Aguero.
There will be two minutes of added time as groans ring around the Etihad. Chelsea have enjoyed this half a lot more than the hosts - thanks to one man in particular: Eden Hazard.
CROSSBAR! Hazard does superbly down the left once again and crosses the ball into Eto'o, who hesitates a little before crashing the ball against the bar! Might he rue missing that? A two-goal advantage would have been extremely helpful going into the break!
Yellow Card Aleksandar Kolarov
BOOKING! That's careless from Kolarov, who receives a booking for a poor challenge. He started promisingly but now looks more of a hindrance for his side than a help.
CHANCE! The corner evades its initial targets but falls to an unmarked Dzeko! The Bosnian, slightly off balance, fires a shot away at goal and it is not too far off, although it eventually goes over.
Yellow Card Nemanja Matić
Matic now enters the book after a needless foul, while City win themselves corner...
STAT ATTACK: The goal was Ivanovic's 15th in the Premier League and his first with his left foot.
The man of the moment, though, is Ivanovic, who took his strike like a forward when it mattered. Mourinho has tactically outwitted Pellegrini so far, although with the attacking options at his disposal, this is far from over.
Yellow Card Martín Demichelis
BOOKING! Demichelis is booked as he brings Hazard down. The City back line - and midfield - can't deal with the Belgian at the moment. He seems to have taken the spotlight off Toure.
CHANCE! Chelsea almost double their lead as Hazard, who has been sensational so far, works the ball to Ramires in the box again! The Brazilian clearly wasn't brought to the Etihad to sit back. He can't quite make the most of his chance once again, though, and the ball falls to Hazard, who has his shot saved by Hart.
City respond straight away - but it is hardly a vintage attack from Pellegrini's side. The ball is played from side to side and a limp shot crawls towards Cech. However, they clearly want to get back on level terms quickly...
Yellow Card Branislav Ivanovic
Goal Branislav Ivanovic
GOALLLL! Ivanovic gives Chelsea the lead!! How about that? Kompany is furious with his side after Hazard is allowed to cross the ball to an unmarked Ramires. The Brazilian has hit shot blocked but it only goes as far out as the Chelsea right-back, who thumps a low finish home from outside the box. What a blow for City!
The home side, of course, have had their own chances, with Toure in particular impressing. Negredo and Dzeko haven't offered enough in the final third quite yet, though. The possession stats still read 65-35 in Manchester City's favour.
We're half an hour into this one now and a fascinating contest is developing. You cannot, by any measure, say that Mourinho's side are here to park the bus. They are certainly here to play on the counter - but they have not been afraid to commit men forward when given the chance.
That was easily the chance of the match so far but Brazilian Ramires was unable to take advantage of his side's sheer pace (him included) on the counterattack. He only had a split second to make his decision but he could have picked a better spot for his finish.
CHANCE!! From the resulting set-piece, Cech punches the ball away and Chelsea have a counterattack that sees four blue shirts against one City defender! But Ramires hits his shot straight at Hart! Willian tries to overhead kick the rebound and it goes way over.
A fantastic tackle from Demichelis perhaps makes up for his earlier hesitance, as it almost sets up a goal! The Argentine won the ball well in midfield and City took the ball forward, with Kolarov crossing for Silva, who had his shot blocked. Corner to City now.
Hesitance from Demichelis almost puts his back four in trouble as Eto'o and co. put pressure on the City back line! The Argentine almost played his pass to a Chelsea player but Toure came in to save the day.
More trickery from Hazard on the edge of the Chelsea box but Willian, who he was playing a one-two with, is given offside. We're halfway through the first half here and there's been plenty of action. You sense the first goal will raise the dynamic even more.
Half-chance for City now, as Edin Dzeko has his first shot of note at goal. The Bosnian was standing on the edge of the box with one or two Blue shirts in front of him. As such, the best he could do was to curl a low shot just wide of the left post.
POOR! Willian and Luiz stand over the free kick... Chelsea fans won't be speaking about that one for a while. It's Luiz who steps up to the ball and lumps it way over the bar. A terrible strike.
FOUL! The visitors get themselves into a great position from that bout of possession, as Hazard is brilliant with the ball at his feet once again. The Belgian skips past at least two players before being brought down by two City defenders at once! His reward is a free kick very close to goal...
Eto'o responds for Chelsea - but it is a blunt response at best, as his limp shot finds its way straight to Hart. The City goalkeeper knocks it long but it goes straight back to the Blues.
CHANCE! Great work from Toure yet again this time sets up David Silva, who is inside the six-yard box but is only able to tap just wide. This is an encouraging time for the home crowd!
STAT ATTACK: Manchester City have had 65 per cent of possession so far. Are you surprised, or do you think that has been Mourinho's plan all along?
TOURE! The Ivorian very nearly gives his side the lead! A simple pass was played into him from the right and, a couple of yards outside the penalty area, Toure curled a wonderful shot just over the bar. What a goal that would have been.
Almost the perfect move from Chelsea as a superb Ivanovic tackle sets up a speedy counterattack (another pattern that is developing for the Blues). Several moments later, though, City are able to win the ball back in their own half. Here they come again...
OFFSIDE! Eden Hazard does brilliantly to surge deep into the City half and find Eto'o. The Cameroonian is offside, however, as he squares the ball for it to be placed into an empty net. Hart had nothing to worry about, the referee was always going to blow his whistle there.
A definite pattern is developing here, as Chelsea drop deeper and City enjoy more and more possession. Luiz shows his frustration with a clumsy foul in midfield - but the Blues are able to win the ball back just moments later...
But the corner is wasted! A looping cross is played into Negredo and the Spaniard can't get any sort of direction on his header, as it goes several yards over the bar. A busy start so far, as you would expect with two teams of this quality.
Good defending from Branislav Ivanovic next, as he heads an aerial cross out of the box, before Matic then clears again to give City a corner. The home side are enjoying a good passage of play here.
CHANCE! City attack down the left again! Their full-backs really are dangerous and Kolarov almost found Toure with a lethal ball across the box. The Ivorian slid in and was inches away from the ball. A close shave for Chelsea.
A good few moments for Chelsea, as relative new-boy (returning to Stamford Bridge after being sold by Chelsea to Benfica, of course) Matic cuts a City attack out and the Blues demonstrate their venom on the break.
COUNTERATTACK! Chelsea then hit City on the break straightaway! Willian does all the hard work and gets into the box to deliver a cross, though it is blocked well by the City defenders. It goes off for a corner, which too is cleared...
Now Yaya Toure has been brought down, as the game slows from its initially frantic pace after a couple of needless fouuls here and there. City look to keep things going through Aleksandar Kolarov, though, but Nemanja Matic cuts his cross out effectively.
FOUL! Vincent Kompany brings Eto'o down, forcing the referee to have a quick word with him. It was a rash challenge from the Belgian and Pellegrini will be looking for less of that this evening.
Alvaro Negredo fires an early warning from a tight angle! The Spaniard is played in on the left side of the penalty area and never looks like beating Cech. He has a go, nevertheless, and his shot is just wide and over.
That was almost a repeat of the blunder Joe Hart made in the reverse fixture at Stamford Bridge! Chelsea break straight up the pitch moments later, however, as Ramires and Samuel Eto'o link up well. The ball rolls out for a goal kick, eventually. Both sides feeling each other out here early on.
And we're off! The hosts get us underway. You can already see there's plenty at stake as Petr Cech is forced off his line to make a nervous clearance!
The players are on the pitch, the fans are making themselves heard and we are just moments away from kick-off!
Something's got to give, surely? Stay with us to find out exactly what, as kick-off is approximately 10 minutes away. Titles are decided by such occasions.
Mourinho, though, has promised to adopt an attacking approach. "Chelsea try to win every game," the Portuguese told reporters ahead of the clash. "We are not going to change our philosophy. We are going in a certain direction and just because we are playing a certain opponent, it doesn't mean we are going to change that."
At the Etihad this season, however, Manchester City have won 11 out of 11 in the Premier League, scoring 42 goals and conceding just eight.
But victory for Pellegrini's side would take them six points clear of Mourinho's men - and one ahead of Arsenal. Chelsea won this season's first meeting between the two sides after a fortuitous Fernando Torres winner at Stamford Bridge, now comes round two.
It's absolutely all to play for at the Etihad tonight (where hosts City have scored 72 goals in all competitions so far this season). Chelsea, in third, can move level with City with a win, closing the gap behind leaders Arsenal to just two points.
As you can also see, then, both sides have made adventurous selections on their bench. Manuel Pellegrini has once again put his faith in young starlet Marcos Lopes, while January signing Mohamed Salah could be in line for his Chelsea debut.
Chelsea subs: Schwarzer, Cole, Mikel, Lampard, Oscar, Salah, Ba.
Manchester City subs: Pantilimon, Boyata, Clichy, Milner, Rodwell, Lopes, Jovetic.
As you can see, both sides have pushed a natural centre-back up to midfield. City have done so with Martin Demichelis, while Chelsea have put David Luiz into the centre.
Chelsea, meanwhile, have dropped Oscar to the bench for tonight's clash. The visitors' starting line-up: Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry (C), Azpilicueta; David Luiz, Matic, Ramires; Willian, Hazard; Eto'o.
Let's start with today's team news, as both sides will be without key midfielders. Manchester City are missing Fernandinho, due to a "muscle strain." Their starting line-up: Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany (C), Nastasic, Kolarov; Demichelis, Toure, Silva, Navas; Dzeko, Negredo.
Good evening and welcome to live-text commentary of Chelsea against Manchester City - arguably the biggest Premier League clash of the season so far! I'm your host Tim Poole and I'll be guiding you through all tonight's action. We'll no doubt be in for a treat...
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