Roberto Di Matteo put his faith in his counter-attack approach which won him the Champions League trophy last season. Chelsea’s back four, David Luiz in particular, looked quite in form. They stole the lead with a goal resulted from a fast break, but their weakness in midfield was obvious. Mikel and Lampard are not known for their battling tenacity or their instinctive positioning in defense. When Ivanovic was sent off, the coveted gap between midfield and defense was exploited, notably leading to the first two goals by Manchester City. Eden Hazard was given his England debut, but is yet to adapt to the physicality of the English game. His lack of presence in defence had released James Milner, particularly when Chelsea was a man down. Di Matteo’s failure to respond promptly to twists in the game might have cost Chelsea a title.
Mancini trialed a 3-5-2-lookalike with Zabaleta playing in a semi-centre back position alongside Savic and Kompany. Mancini took advantage of Chelsea’s relatively narrow 4-3-3 with five midfielders, with Tevez also dropped deep to link up often with Nasri and Yaya Toure. City easily dominated the possession, but the frontline lacked the height to convert crosses from Kolarov and Milner. The missing piece is a target man inside the box – Edin Dzeko, who was on the bench. It maybe the early season symptom, but neither Savic nor the 3-5-2 formation would convince Mancini with two goals conceded.
What if Hazard was taken off earlier?
With 10 men and a 1-0 lead, the manager who orchestrated his team to defend against Barcelona and Bayern Munich on their road to Champions League glory surprisingly kept Juan Mata and Eden Hazard in the 2nd half, who both looked uncomfortable with defensive duties, particularly the Belgian. It was not until Chelsea trailing by 1-3 before Ryan Bertrand was introduced to consolidate the defence on the left.
What if Savic and Ramires were sent off for a 2nd yellow?
A dubious decision in Savic’s favor against Torres allowed Mancini’s men to enjoy a numerical advantage over Chelsea; all could have been quite different had it been a 10 vs 10 in 2nd half. It could be a red for Ramires’ reckless foul but he was let go by the friendly Friend. With Ivanovic already being suspended for the opening fixtures, having another player suspended will definitely not be the ideal start to Di Matteo’s official reign. However, poor officiating means we will never know what would happen.
Man of the Match:
It was the man who Mancini vowed never to play for Man City again; it was the man who said Mancini treated him like a dog. Carlos Tevez put in an energetic display throughout the match as if he needed no pre-season. His movement, work rate, techniques are undoubtedly of top class. He could once again be the key to City’s success this season.
Flop of the Match:
A relatively inexperienced referee in the top tier, Kevin Friend correctly sent off Ivanovic whose studs caught Kolarov. However, when Torres raced Savic onto a through ball, the shaky defender, managed to put himself between the ball and El Nino but the inevitable collision hardly looked like what Friend thought – an offensive foul. While a budge from David Luiz on Tevez inside the box remains debatable, a cynical bodycheck on David Silva by a booked Ramires did not produce a second yellow card. It seemed as though Kevin Friend was either too lenient in the ‘Charity Shield’ or was not decisive enough to make the right call. The game definitely needs more consistent refereeing than this.
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