Chelsea maintained their five point advantage at the top of the Premier League table after a hard fought draw with Manchester City at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. The Blues took the advantage in the first half through Loic Remy, but the Champions hit back moments later through David Silva. City dominated in the second half, but Jose Mourinho’s side held on to keep their lead at the top of the table.
The build up to the game was dominated by Diego Costa. The Spaniard was charged and banned in almost record time by the FA ahead of this one, ruling him out for three games. He wasn’t the only one to miss for this game, as Cesc Fabregas and Filipe Luis were injured against Liverpool on Tuesday night, and that ruled them out here. Andre Schurrle are Mo Salah have been linked with moves away, and neither of them were amongst the substitutes. That left the Blues with a very youthful bench, packed with academy players.
The game was close early on, with City just about dominating the possession. It was the home side who made who made the breakthrough just before half time. Willian’s cross found Eden Hazard on the left hand side of the box and he put the ball back across the six yard box right into the path of Remy, and he tapped in to give the Blues the lead.
That lead was short lived, as City hit back moments later. They dispossessed Nemanja Matic, and sent in a cross that Thibaut Courtois flapped at. It went straight to Sergio Aguero, whose shot was deflected in off David Silva. There were a few defensive mistakes in the build-up, which surely won’t please Mourinho.
The Blues were much more solid in the second half, as City put them under the cosh as they tried to close the gap to two points. Kurt Zouma in particular impressed, as he held his own against one of the best strikers in the league. Aguero didn’t get too many chances, barring the one that led to the goal.
Towards the end Chelsea didn’t venture far from the their own goal, and it seemed that the 120 minutes the Blues played on Tuesday had an effect, and City certainly looked the fitter side towards the end. One thing that did help them was the depth of their bench, as Chelsea only had two senior outfield players in reserve. Gary Cahill came on for Remy in the last 10 minutes, as Mourinho showed he was happy to take the point.
City of course had the stronger bench, and their big substitution saw the introduction of the only man who could rival Costa for headlines this week. Frank Lampard came off the bench against his former club, and he was given a warm welcome by the Stamford Bridge faithful, but he was unable to help his new side seize victory.
In end, this point certainly helps Chelsea more than City. They’re still five points clear in the title race, and they were second best in the second half. Without Costa and Fabregas, this really wasn’t a bad result for the Blues.
LCN Man of the Match: Kurt Zouma