A lot of people saw Roberto Mancini’s comments ahead of Saturday’s clash with Chelsea as “mind games” when he said Chelsea will “probably win the Premier League easy”. I took that as an honest opinion from the Italian, sharing a similar opinion with myself.
On the pitch, Manchester City got the better of Chelsea as Carlos Tevez scored the only goal of the game in the second half, handing Chelsea their first defeat of the season. This result didn’t come as a great upset to me, following on from last season when City did the double over the champions, with Carlos Tevez scoring in both games. This also doesn’t change my opinion of Chelsea’s title challenge, and if anything I see it taking pressure off the players now that their 100% record, and any thoughts of beating Arsenal’s 49 game unbeaten record have been eliminated from the equation.
Arsenal themselves slipped up today, suffering a shock 3-2 home defeat at the hands of West Bromwich Albion. The visitors had a first half penalty save and threw away a 3-0 lead at one point, but came away with 3 points, leaving them just 1 point behind Arsenal. Chelsea face Marseille on Tuesday night in the Champions League, before hosting Arsenal in the Premier League next Sunday, where a victory would see them extend their lead to 7 points over their London neighbours, just 7 games into the season.
That’s over a week away to think about. Manchester United can close the gap to 1 point on Chelsea tomorrow by winning at Bolton. Victory is the only option for Manchester United if they want to think realistically about taking the title away from Stamford Bridge. And despite having a large sum on Chelsea to win the Premier League this season, I am hoping Manchester United pick up the 3 points tomorrow. That will then see Chelsea become odds-against for the Premier League title, where I am now confident in putting even more money on them to defend their crown.
Manchester City were setup very defensively today, with Carlos Tevez playing the loan striker role, James Milner and David Silva down either wing, and Nigel de Jong, Yaya Toure and Gareth Barry resisting making an approach into the Chelsea box. The gameplan worked, when Yaya Toure fed Carlos Tevez the ball, from which he ran uncontested at the Chelsea defence before firing home from 20 yards. Branislav Ivanovic had hit the underside of the crossbar from a corner in the first half, but Chelsea rarely failed to break down the City defence. Nicolas Anelka fired a long range effort wide, while Alex headed another chance wide. Didier Drogba’s lack of activity even resulted in him being substituted for Daniel Sturridge in the final quarter of an hour.
Roberto Mancini may have tactically outclassed his fellow countryman, Carlo Ancelotti today, but his team’s inconsistencies, that have already seen them lose at Sunderland and draw with Blackburn are what holding his team back from being Premier League champions. Today’s victory cuts the gap down to 4 points behind the current league leaders.
Despite today’s result, Chelsea are the strongest and most consistent team in the Premier League this season.