Manchester City established a firm footnote in the Premier League title race with a dominating performance over the current champions, Chelsea.
In a week overshadowed by Jose Mourinho’s controversial demotion of medical staff Eva Carneiro and Jon Fearn, as reported by the BBC, Chelsea was dealt a massive blow by their fellow title contenders in a strong performance at the Etihad Stadium.
Three goals rounded off a sublime performance from the blue side of Manchester. Sergio Aguero gave City the lead on 31 minutes with an acute finesse shot into the bottom corner. They held comfortable until the 79th minute, when captain Vincent Kompany flicked a deft header beyond Asmir Begovic. Six minutes later, Fernandinho rifled a blistering drive beyond the keeper to seal the win and the points.
Stand-out performances from Yaya Toure and Fernandinho, as well as a formidable attacking threat from Sergio Aguero and David Silva, have reignited the fire that City seemed to lack last season. With additional support from £49m signing Raheem Sterling, who is still very much a work in progress, and figure of authority Vincent Kompany, City have started the season in scintillating form. On this evidence, brushing aside a strong Chelsea side is a rarity in the Premier League, and stopping them will not be easy.
City manager Manuel Pellegrini was left frustrated last season as his luxury squad failed to live up to their potential, losing the title to Chelsea in a lame title defense, but their resilient and inspired performance will please the fans, who were celebrating an extension to the Etihad Stadium. The capacity can now seat 60,000 supporters and, with performances like this, City can expect more record crowds to build on the 54,331 that attended on Sunday.
In a reversal of fortune, Chelsea looked like a side lacking in confidence. With one point from the first two games, including this loss and a 2-2 draw at home, it’s a completely different story from the team who controlled the Premier League for the duration last season.
Possibly the biggest story coming out of yesterday was Mourinho’s decision to replace captain John Terry at halftime. Ever a reliable stalwart at the center of defense, Terry was replaced for “tactical purposes.” This is the first time that Mourinho has ever substituted Terry in his tenure as Chelsea manager. In 177 starts, Terry has always finished the game, bar one occasion when he was sent off. Terry was seen fuming on the bench during the second half.
On substituting John Terry, Mourinho told the following to Sky Sports.
“No, it was just a decision, I know that Zouma is the fastest defender we have in the squad and in that moment Man City is going to play counter attack and they are going to play long balls to Aguero. Zouma is a different player to John and Cahill and was proven completely right, Zouma was in complete control.”
Asked about his decision to substitute Terry, Mourinho confirmed the following.
“He’s a player of my total trust, there is no doubt about it, with me he was never substituted but with other managers he was not even selected, he was not playing or people thought his career at Chelsea was over.
So if somebody has the free mind and are right to have these kind of decisions as a manager, I am the one because I am the one who gave him the chance to be what he is, which is a fantastic player and fantastic captain.
I left him out because tactically I have to make a change and when you make changes, sometimes you are right and sometimes you are wrong, I think I was proven right because we controlled the depth of the game and the counter attack.”
Chelsea may now need to dip into the transfer market to bolster their squad. Chelsea have had two bids for Everton’s John Stones rejected — with £20m and £26m valuations deemed too low — but with this defensive performance, Mourinho may consider upping their bid. He may consider a striker too, with Didier Drogba gone, as confirmed by the Inquisitr, and the injury-prone Falcao the main support to Diego Costa.
Whatever the decision, Chelsea will be scrutinised as champions, much like City were the previous year. It should make for some exciting Premier League action.
[Images — mirror.co.uk and skysports.com]