If there was anything the pundits were in agreement on about Sunday’s game at the Etihad, it was how closely contested it would be. This was confirmed as the two teams sized up each other for most of the match.
With minutes of the second half played, both sets of fans were already speculating about how a draw wouldn’t be that bad, on account of the teams playing with so much respect for each other.
Zabaleta seemed to have a different plan, as he fouled Diego Costa in what was arguably the game’s worst challenge. Mike Dean produced a red card after a bit of a tantrum by the Spanish Striker.
The game was turned on its head and the Blues who had come to the Etihad for a point; saw an opportunity to nick all 3. For Manchester City however, the objective remained to win the match after a series of previously disappointing results left them 5 points behind their opponents.
It proved to be a case of frying pan to fire, as the Manchester team was picked clean during an attack, leading to an opening goal for the substitute Andre Schurrle.
Subsequently, Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini saw no use to hold back at that point, sending in reinforcement in the shape of Jesus Navas and Chelsea legend, Frank Lampard.
At this point, it seemed like a case of just seeing the game out and gathering all 3 points for Chelsea. But in what seemed very uncharacteristic of the Blues, rookie mistakes from Ivanovic and Schurrle saw Manchester City equalize.
Chelsea whom it seemed, came to contain the league Champions, almost got all 3 points, which was obviously more than they bargained for. The last minute equalizer seemed almost prophetic and was a true reflection of the game.
The Blues will be gutted, as they were handed a gift by the Manchester City side that seemed to most certainly be going down at home. Chelsea returned the gift they were given and as such, neither one of the 2 teams can have too many complaints.
The Blues will be happy to have maintained the 5 point lead over their biggest rivals this season, while Manchester City will just be relieved they didn’t go 8 points behind a team like Chelsea.
Jose Mourinho seems to agree about the fairness of the final score;
“We were successful because we scored and had more chances, and they were successful because they equalized. In the end, from my perspective, the point is maybe a point they deserve” – Jose Mourinho
In his interview, Manuel Pellegrini seemed cranky. Which looking at the league table is probably not that surprising? Even though the Chilean admits being unsatisfied, he hailed the performance as the best one this season from his team;
“I am satisfied with the performance of my team … Today was our best game of the season against a very good team” – Manuel Pelligrini
Being so early in the season, no one can say with any certainty, how important this draw will be for either side. What we can however guarantee, is that most football enthusiasts will be tuning in when these two sides meet again for the return fixture at Stamford Bridge.