Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Forget about Jose Mourinho parking the bus; Chelsea were superb

Chelsea full-back Branislav Ivanovic races away to celebrate after scoring the winning goal against Manchester City

So much for Manchester City being the "best team on the planet". That was the verdict of Tottenham boss Tim Sherwood after watching his side lose 5-1 to them at White Hart Lane recently.

On last night's evidence, City aren't even the best team in England!

Chelsea were awesome at the Etihad Stadium in a Premier League clash of the titans completely overpowering and outplaying their opponents.

Jose Mourinho's men won 1-0, but a 5-1 victory for the visitors would have been a much more accurate reflection of a compelling encounter.

Yes, Chelsea really were that good, that great. This was their best performance of the season and the most accomplished since the Special One returned to Stamford Bridge.

Mourinho being Mourinho will, of course, receive a mountain of praise for his tactics and he deserves it because they were marvellously constructed, but it still takes players to carry instructions out and those wearing the darker blue did that.

They were majestic surging forward and mean at the back.

All Chelsea lacked in Manchester was more poise in front of goal when their dominance led to numerous opportunities and fortune because they hit the woodwork THREE times after Branislav Ivanovic brilliantly smashed home.

No wonder Jose wore the look of a proud and contented manager after this one sided contest.

It's seldom that every single player in one side performs extraordinarily well but that was the case as Chelsea moved level on points with City and two points behind leaders Arsenal.

In the dying seconds Petr Cech made a super stop, while in front of him the back four of Ivanovic, John Terry, Gary Cahill and Cesar Azpilicueta were solidity personified. The two holding midfielders David Luiz and Nemanja Matic also excelled.

That magnificent seven did what no other group of players have done all season – stop City scoring at home in the Premier League. In fact, they did what no one has done since November 2010!

Remember Manuel Pellegrini's side have battered just about every team they have faced at the Etihad including Arsenal and Spurs, who they hit for six, and Manchester United, who were walloped 4-1.

Chelsea kept them at bay and were comfortable in doing so.

At the other end Willian, Eden Hazard, Ramires and Samuel Eto'o were given the freedom by Mourinho to break at pace and hurt City.

With Hazard instrumental, Pellegrini's men were feeling the pain following Ivanovic's goal, and so it continued.

Eto'o, the colossal Matic, who dominated Yaya Toure in the middle of the park, and Cahill all hit the woodwork.

This was a special display, ending the 20-game unbeaten run of a City side who were ripped to shreds.

Before the game Mourinho, rather cheekily, given his own club's recent history, suggested how it would be "impossible" to compete with City in the transfer market if financial fair play rules were not enforced in future.

Forget that for now, money can't buy the happiness Chelsea fans have today. Fair play to Jose and his team for that. They played a blinder.

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