IT’S A HUGE night in title race as second host third at the Etihad.
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Manchester City 0-1 Chelsea
19.04 – Good evening and welcome along to what will (hopefully) be a great night of football.
Two of this season’s main title contenders go head-to-head as Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea visit the Etihad Stadium. The Special One, who succeeded Manuel Pellegrini at Real Madrid, has lauded City as the “finished product” and also claimed his team will go out to win the game less than a week after he criticised West Ham for playing “19th century football”.
Responding to questions on how Chelsea will line out, Pellegrini said this week: “I don’t know which way Chelsea will play on Monday. They have a style of play. Maybe it’s not the same style that I like, but everyone can play the way they want.
“I never criticise what other teams do. I think it is very important for every team to resolve the problem that they have every match.”
19.06 – It’s the first of two meetings between these sides in the coming fortnight as they have also been paired together for the FA Cup fifth round, which will take place on 15 February… just days before their respective Champions League Round of 16 ties against Barcelona and Galatasaray.
The last time the teams faced off back in October, a Joe Hart blunder allowed Fernando Torres in to score a 90th-minute winner in a 2-1 win for Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
YouTube credit: DailyGoal
19.11 – The teams are in…
Manchester City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Nastasic, Kolarov, Navas, Demichelis, Toure, Silva, Dzeko, Negredo.
Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry (c), Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Matic, Ramires, Willian, Hazard, Eto’o.
19.16 – Manchester City, without the injured Sergio Aguero, go with Alvaro Negredo and Edin Dzeko up front while Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho is out so Martin Demichelis steps into a deep-lying midfield role.
Chelsea name Samuel Eto’o in centre forward with Ramires, Eden Hazard and Willian supporting him and new signing Nemanja Matic partnering David Luiz in midfield.
Right, let’s get those ‘Chelsea parking the bus’ jokes out of the way nice and early, shall we…?
19.20 – Here’s one of three talking points ahead of tonight’s game:
How big a loss will Sergio Aguero be?
Luis Suarez is running away in the Premier League scoring charts but sandwiched in between the Uruguayan and his Liverpool striker partner Daniel Sturridge is Man City’s main man Sergio Aguero.
‘El Kun’, who has 15 league goals to his name this season, limped off with a hamstring injury in last Wednesday’s win over Spurs and will miss tonight’s game as well as the the FA Cup fifth round (also against Chelsea) and City’s Champions League Round of 16 first leg against Barcelona later this month.
It is a massive blow for Manuel Pellegrini but his team does have goals right through it and in Alvaro Negredo, who has become an instant hit since arriving from Sevilla in the summer, City possess an excellent replacement to lead the line and feed off the creativity of David Silva, Yaya Toure and Jesus Navas among others.
19.21 – There are 35 minutes until kick-off so let’s get your predictions:
Tell us what score you think it be at full-time in our comments section too.
19.35 – Mourinho has just been talking to Geoff Shreeves of Sky Sports. First he plays down the absence of Aguero and Fernandinho by stating that there squad is strong enough to deal with it. Then he goes on to say they are there to win.
19.43 – This is pretty cool. An old school Panini sticker of Manuel Pellegrini during his playing days with Universidad Chile. He made over 400 appearances for the club between 1973-1986.
19.52 – You’ve just about got enough time to watch MNF pair Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher preview the game:
19.59 – Here we go then. Both clubs wearing their traditional blue colours.
Credit: Sky Sports
20.03 – Wow, that could have ended disastrously. Gary Cahill attempts to head back to Petr Cech in the opening seconds but the goalkeeper has come running out off his line and misreads the situation. It’s eventually cleared away.
20.04 – We get a first glimpse of Negredo when the Spaniard brushes Cahill aside and tries his luck from a narrow angle. It’s well off target, however.
20.08 – Vincent Kompany catches Eto’o late and referee has a quick word. Moments later, it’s Eto’o who leaves his boot in on Yaya Toure. There doesn’t look to be much contact from the replay, however.
20.11 – A lack of communication between Nastastic and Kompany leads to Willian getting free down the right after the City defenders tackle each other.
20.11 – Kolarov sends in a cracking cross from the left flank but Toure can’t get on the end of it. That was close.
20.14 – Hazard is allowed to run about 60 yards then attempts to play in Eto’o but the striker has wandered offside.
20.17 – Navas twists and turns Terry in the right corner before cutting a ball back to Toure, who chooses to hit it first time. He is leaning back and curls it a couple of yards too high.
20.19 – Toure involved in good work again, playing a one-two with Navas then fizzing a pass into the six-yard box. David Silva attempts to divert it goalward but it rolls agonisingly wide.
Best chance of the game so far.
20.23 – Chelsea win themselves a free-kick 25 yards out and David Luiz drills it into Row Z — before giving the pitch an angry stare.
20.24 – Dzeko shoots wide with his left then Chelsea immediately attack through Hazard but it’s cut short when the referee’s assistant flags for an offside.
20.29 – City earn a corner but possess is given away when Negredo plays a short pass to Demichelis and Chelsea break in numbers. Willian has three team-mates with him against one City defender and he opts to play Ramires, who shoots at a good height for Cech to get his body behind.
Both teams just beginning to flex their muscles.
20.32 – GOAL! Manchester City 0-1 Chelsea (Branislav Ivanovic)
The visitors go ahead and it’s through an unlikely source. They work the ball well from left to right and Ramires gets a shot off which is blocked. When the ball comes out to Ivanovic 20 yards out from goal, the Serbian defender catches the strike perfectly with his left foot to send it past Joe Hart.
20.37 – Demichelis fouls Hazard and picks himself up a yellow card for his troubles.
20.39 – Here’s the goal:
YouTube credit: Leo Ben
20.41 – Matic is next in the book after taking Toure down.
20.43 – Dzeko fires over then Kolarov is handed a booking for chopping down David Luiz. City looking increasingly frustrated.
20.45 – Ooh, Chelsea have hit the bar. Hazard finds some space on the left and cuts the ball to the back post where Eto’o tries his luck but cracks the crossbar.
Two minutes of additional time to play before half-time.
20.48 – Half-time: Manchester City 0-1 Chelsea
20.53 – Here’s Jose looking relaxed taking a couple of selfies before kick-off. He will be chuffed with how well the first half has gone as his tactics have worked a treat so far.
Credit: Martin Rickett/PA Wire/Press Association Images
21.04 – The second half has just kicked off.
21.09 – City restart with an attack from the right where Navas finds Zabaleta. The full-back crosses for Dzeko but he heads wide under pressure from Cahill.
Chelsea still creating chances themselves and, after Hart bats away initially, Willian’s shot is blocked for a corner… which amounts to nothing.
21.11 – Dzeko lays off to Toure and he drills a half-volley at goal. Cech dives but it fizzes wide.
21.12 – Matic has done a fine job in central midfield so far but on this occasion he gets forward and clips the post with a left-footed drive from 30 yards.
21.13 – Manuel Pellegrini needs to make a change and Stevan Jovetic is readying himself by the looks of things.
21.17 – Kompany pulls down Ramires and Chelsea have a free-kick, which gives City the chance to bring on Jovetic. Off comes Negredo, who has been quiet tonight.
It’s Luiz to take again and this time he blasts straight at the wall.
21.21 – Jovetic tries to get himself involved immediately and gets clipped by Luiz. Kolarov steps up… and sends it over.
21.28 – It’s all happening. First Chelsea hit the post through the head of Cahill then Dzeko wastes a super chance from close range.
21.30 – Cahill, defending Kolarov’s cross, nearly puts the ball into his own net but it results in a City corner. Chelsea break and Ramires strikes cleanly on target but Hart is well behind it.
21.33 – Willian is deemed to have fouled Toure and City have a chance from a good angle. David Silva looks to curl his effort into the top corner, where Cech pulls off an excellent stop.
21.35 – Jovetic and Dzeko combine to set up Kolarov and his pass into the path of Silva is steered wayward. Chelsea have had plenty of opportunities to increase their advantage but City can’t say they haven’t created anything.
21.37 – Another important block from Matic there. He has been terrific tonight.
Credit: Dave Thompson/PA Wire/Press Association Images
21.42 – Oscar is coming on for Eto’o. Seven minutes of regulation time on the clocl.
21.47 – Mourinho has just got extremely animated on the sideline. Nastastic pulls down Oscar cynically but, although he is the last man, Mike Deane only awards a yellow card. Should’ve been red in my opinion.
21.52 – John Obi Mikel is being introduced for Willian for the final few minutes.
21.53 – Jovetic forces Cech into a brilliant save before Nastastic slices wide seconds later. Time has just about run out.
21.54 – Full-time Manchester City 0-1 Chelsea
What a result for Chelsea. Both sides wasted several chances but Mourinho’s gameplan was spot on. The three points sees Chelsea draw level on points with Man City (53) with Arsenal remaining top on 55 points.
21.55 – Birmingham City are the last team to keep Man City out at home:
22.11 – Next up for Chelsea is Newcastle this Saturday while Man City are away to Norwich. I’m wrapping things up here, thanks for the company.