Game in a sentence

A miserable affair at Stamford bridge sees Rafa Benitez endure 90 minutes of extreme discomfort.

Observations

  • Fernando Torres’ sputtering career would be saved by the arrival of Don Rafa. At least that’s what I thought to myself as the players emerged from the tunnel. Unfortunately it didn’t happen, not on this day. Vincent Kompany played extremely well, holding Torres in check.
  • “Rafa Benitez you’re not wanted here.” “There’s only one Roberto Di Matteo.” The folks at Stamford Bridge were not happy with the week that was. Roman Abramovich sat in the rafters with a sullen look. What a day to  forget earplugs (and a blindfold). In the 16th minute Chelsea supporters stood to applaud Di Matteo, who wore number 16 for the Blues. The winner in this bizarre scene of awkwardness was Roberto Mancini. No headlines for the beleaguered boss tomorrow. On a side note, Chelsea fans hating on Abramovich’s knee jerk reaction must have forgotten what the billionaire has done for this club in the past 10 years. Eccentric and extremely rich — feigning outrage is a little ridiculous. This is normal.
  • Pablo Zabaleta was great. Holding Eden Hazard in his pocket while making probing runs into the depths of the Chelsea defence, the Argentine defender made life difficult for Ashley Cole and David Luiz. His strike in the 36th minute drew a big save from Petr Cech.
  • Edin Dzeko — super sub to friends who live to troll him — started in place of Carlos Tevez. Paired with Kun Aguero up front, Dzeko’s lack of chemistry with his fellow forward was glaring. Towards the end of the first half the duo made headway — Aguero had an opportunity at goal in the 42nd minute.
  • This was a terrible game. Over the course of the weekend I chose to watch a series of games that should’ve been great. In the end Wigan-Reading was the best. Goes to show you I don’t know much.
  • Chelsea began the second half with a slight tactical change. Hazard slotted in behind Torres, moving Mata out wide. The move paid dividends early. Mata delivered a slew of excellent balls into the City box. Once again, Zabaleta and Kompany did well to curtail the attack.
  • While I’m lauding the efforts of City’s defenders, plaudits are owed to David Luiz. Steady is the word that immediately springs to mind.
  • Moses replaced Hazard — insert horrible biblical joke here – in the 71st minute. Benitez’s tinkering had little affect on the proceedings. In the end Mario Balotelli’s insertion into the game and subsequent yellow card for simulation — a reputation call at its finest — was the nadir of an already dismal game. It wasn’t supposed to be like this.
  • Mancini and Benitez remain unbeaten this year. The City manager had wise advice for his counterpart on how Rafa can silence embittered Chelsea supporters: “Win, win, win, win…every game.”
  • The positives: David Silva, Kompany, Zabaleta and Luiz. The negatives: this game. The EPL returns on Tuesday. Thank you various deities.

Three stars

1. Pablo Zabaleta

2. David Luiz

3. David Silva