Top Bins: Chelsea vs. Manchester City (April 5, 2017)
1. I don’t know about everyone else, but I love me some magic, and Chelsea’s massive win against Man City was full of all kinds of sorcery. Taking our magic number down to 18 AND knocking out a title rival in the process, that’s peak wizardry right there.
2. Speaking of wizards, they come in all shapes & sizes. Some are really tall with even taller hats, and others are short, giggly French-speaking Belgians who can rupture both of your ACLs without even raising a finger
3. I really enjoy having my ACLs in tact, but I love watching Eden Hazard play football even more.
4. Side Note: I’m trying really hard to remember what a Crystal Palace is, but something in my brain just stings every time I think about it too hard. Oh well.
5. Back to Eden. The man has been in blazing form the last two matches. I actually thought he played even better in our loss at the weekend to that team I can’t think of than he did against City, but all that matters are goals and the man bagged 2 of them when it mattered most.
6. Chelsea didn’t play the prettiest football against City. They didn’t dominate the match. They didn’t have balance. Other players underperformed. And none of it mattered. I’ll take 3 points in a 6 pointer no matter how they come.
7. And that’s really a testament to this squad. One of the cornerstones of the modern Chelsea is our ability to grind out results, and last season aside, we’ve got a squad and a manager this year who have found a way to transfer the grittiness of the old guard into a sustainable force.
8. Looking at the team news before the match started, I was curious to see how our balance would be affected with Cesar Azpilicueta filling in at wing back for Victor Moses and my suspicions proved to be correct.
9. Azpi can clearly play any position on the pitch, but I think the role of RWB asks just a bit too much offensively for Dave and that showed in the first half. Our attack down the right side was present, but much more disoriented and thus less threatening.
10. And I know you’re gonna say “BUT CAM HE HAD AN ASSIST”, well yes he did, keen observation. However if you go back & watch the run up to the goal, you’ll see my point. Hazard wanted the ball earlier in the attack, but an indecisive Dave chose to go wide to Pedro, which slowed down play heavily. Ultimately we still scored thanks to a lucky deflection, but you can see how the imbalance of the squad affected our attack early on.
11. Azpilicueta’s positional switch was more detrimental in midfield however as City were consistently finding David Silva in between the lines with ease. Some of this boils down to the selection of Cesc Fabregas over Nemanja Matic, but what Dave’s positional switch really did was deprive Chelsea of a CB stepping up into midfield to break up play.
12. Usually as RCB, Dave is both well positioned & agile enough to read the game and step up when he needs to, but with Kurt Zouma making his first start of the season, the CB pressure in midfield became the responsibility of David Luiz, who is a bit more of a wild card in that area of the game.
13. I thought for the most part, David played a great match. He got caught out a couple of times when he tried to step up into midfield, but that comes with the newfound responsibility. He made up for those mistakes and then some when he sent Sergio Aguero flying into the boards though
14. If not for the magical spells & potions used by Eden Hazard, my man of the match against City would have been Gary Cahill. Looking strictly at defending, this might be the most memorable performance I’ve ever seen from Gaz. He was in Sergio Aguero’s pocket almost the entire night and beat the Argentine to every single ball crossed low into the box. Really feels like we are seeing Gary Cahill’s status as a Chelsea legend coming full circle this season
15. Conte’s switch at halftime, bringing off Kurt Zouma in place of Matic, left me scratching my head a little. I expected Matic to come on in the 2nd half, but I thought Zouma played quite well in the first half so I was confused to see him come off instead of Fabregas. But one thing I’ve learned this season is to always trust Antonio. He hasn’t steered us wrong yet.
16. The second half was much less eventful than the first, but that’s largely down to Antonio’s introduction of Matic. David Silva, who seemingly received the ball wherever he wanted in the first half, suddenly found himself attach to Matic’s hip in the second half and City’s lack of goal scoring opportunities showed that.
17. I know it didn’t work out as well result-wise at the weekend, but I am a HUGE fan of Pedro at RWB.
18. OH! By the way I just remembered what a Crystal Palace is! Just another term for where Superman lives actually. Ya know, the Fortress of Solitude? Knew it’d come back to me.
19. It looked like Chelsea’s day was going to be even better when Spurs were 1-0 down in the 88th minute away to Swansea. However, it seems that Spurs might not actually be complete s*** this season as they scored 3 goals in stoppage time to keep the gap at 7 points
20. Pep is still bald.
3 Points Looking Ahead
21. There’s no doubt about it, Chelsea’s win against City was MASSIVE. The Blues successfully hit the banana left in their path by Crystal Palace with a red shell and thus quelled the growing fears among our less faithful supporters that Chelsea’s title challenge might be unraveling.
22. Spurs kicked off 15 minutes before Chelsea-City did on Wednesday & I get giddier than a kid on recess just thinking about how deflating it must have been as Spurs got into the away locker room at Swansea, fresh off an incredible comeback victory, only to see Chelsea grabbing all 3 points against City. I think we can all agree there’s a certain pride that comes with consistently ruining the happiness of Tottenham supporters.
23. Chelsea now face a tricky away trip to Bournemouth at the weekend, the same place where Liverpool dropped points this week. It’s true I would have fancied our chances quite easily against any team left on the fixture list, but after the Crystal Palace defeat, my cockiness meter has been reset. Lucky for Chelsea, all teams in the league will be playing their 3rd match in 8 days this weekend and that will certainly play to Chelsea’s advantage against the Cherries