On the evening of Monday 12th December 2011, Barclays Premier League 2011/12 took another twist in the road, as nouveau riche league leader, Manchester City, saw their unbeaten run ended by the “old” money of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea came back from a goal down to defeat City team – reduced to ten men – 2-1 at home through a Frank Lampard penalty scored with 7 minutes remaining.
Chelsea, after a slow start, went on to dominate possession and had the more incision going forwards, though Man City will be thoroughly disappointed that they did not turn an early upper hand into more than the one goal they managed to score.
City deservedly took the lead, when Balotelli got on the score-sheet after just 2 minutes. Sergio Aguero turned Chelsea captain John Terry in fine style before playing an inch-perfect pass with the outside of his right boot which fell into the young Italian’s stride. Balotelli showed, once more, his calm-headedness in front of goal, by rounding Petr Cech before slotting home City’s opener.
That goal, though, was to be City’s only highlight in an otherwise spellbinding opening display.
City’s Aguero should have added a goal of his own to his earlier assist when he beat two men, but – unusually, this season – he pulled his shot just wide of the target with around 15 minutes on the clock.
It could have been different, too, had Bosingwa’s slightly ungainly challenge on the ever-impressive David Silva in the penalty area produced anything other than a “play-on” signal from Mark Clattenburg.
As ever, in football, a failure to take chances during a spell of domination was punished with ten minutes of the first half remaining: Chelsea, who had shown little of their class until this time, got back on level terms when a powerful Sturridge run saw him past Gael Clichy at City’s left-back position before crossing to Raul Meireles who volleyed home with his usual ruthless aplomb. The clock showed 34 minutes, and Chelsea fans were delighted to have got back into a match which had appeared to be in danger of disappearing before the break.
The sides came in at 1-1 and, in the second half, Gael Clichy’s already distinctly ordinary day got even worse when he was dismissed for a second yellow card following a foul on Ramires just before the hour mark.
In truth, with City on ten men, it was principally Chelsea for the final half hour, particularly after the managers had made their moves: Mancini of Manchester City took off goal threats Aguero and Silva for Kolo Toure and Nigel de Jong; while Villas-Boas produced a fresh Frank Lampard from the bench in place of the tiring Meireles.
It was the Chelsea manager who was to be proved right with his substitution, as Chelsea, who had been pressing hard for the winner with their numerical advantage, were awarded a penalty on 83 minutes. The impressive Sturridge had hit a shot that was blocked by the arm of Jolean Lescott. Clattenburg had no hesitation in pointing to the spot – and rightly so. Lampard and Mata – who, it was revealed after the match, was supposed to be the penalty taker in this match – had a brief conversation before the veteran English midfielder placed the ball and hammered home to give Chelsea the lead and, after the remaining time was played out, the eventual three points from this home fixture.
In the context of the league, this result makes things much more interesting as the clubs go into the Christmas period. City’s lead at the top of the table is reduced to just two points over Manchester United, while Chelsea climb to third place, level on points with Spurs, who are fourth, just seven points from the league summit.
Any thoughts that the first half of this season was going to herald a changing of the guard in Premier League football look like they will have to be put away. For now.
Barclays Premier League 2011/12 Result, Monday 12th December 2011 – Chelsea 2-1 Manchester City
|Meireles 34||Balotelli 2|
|Lampard (Pen) 83|
Barclays Premier League 2011/12 Table – Top Four
Below is how the top four of the Barclays Premier League 2011/12 table looked after the Chelsea v Manchester City match concluded on Monday 12th December 2011: