|There have been some good matches of late in the English Premier League, the two Manchester City versus Manchester United Carling Cup matches, the Everton versus Manchester United match, and now the Manchester City versus Chelsea match. It’s a pleasure to watch these matches on a Saturday or Sunday morning, even though I wish I could be in the stands.|
This morning I flipped on the DVR list and watched the Chelsea versus Manchester City match, or the John Terry versus Wayne Bridge match. The game started around 5:30 on the West coast so it was nice to be able to sleep in since it was DVR’d.
The intro was partly about whether Bridge would shake Terry’s hand before the match, he didn’t. That seemed to set the tone. Man City was in it to win it and united around their teammate. If you look at the video below, not only did Bridge not shake Terry’s hand but when Craig Bellamy did, he turned his head so he didn’t even look at Terry.
Chelsea owned the first half, pinging the ball around and racking up possession time but only could manage one Frank Lampard goal. Joe Cole is back and starting to play like his old self it looks like. He adds some flair to The Blues. The Chelsea crowd booed when he was substituted. Drogba is a handful. The Chelsea team seems to run like a well-oiled machine but a counter attacking Manchester City spoiled the party. And injuries put some holes in the Chelsea defense and especially in goal.
Chelsea has another excuse though, as they had a tough mid-week game versus Inter Milan.
But the match was all about the under current of the Wayne Bridge and John Terry fallout. Bridge didn’t even shake Terry’s hand in the pre-game. The two didn’t end up facing one and other, no Bridge versus Terry battles on the field, and Bridge was subbed out with ten minutes to go to a respectful applause.
If you were to pick one player to have on your team, who would it be? These days it might just be Carlos Tevez, who returned from a trip back home to see his newborn daughter in Argentina, and scored the first Man City goal almost entirely on his own, and just before the halftime. It was the goal that tied the game and turned it on its head. Tevez pointed to Bridge as he celebrated, as if he was saying this was for him. He would score another goal after Barry was brought down in the box.
Juliano Belletti missed controlled a pass and Barry stole the ball and charged straight towards goal. Belletti tried to avoid knocking him down from behind but Barry smartly collapsed in the box. If there was a coaching error, it was Carlo Ancelotti’s choice to bring on Belletti, but Ballack’s red card changed everything and Belletti was forced to play in the back rather than the midfield. Belletti is a wise veteran but too slow to be a defender.
The other player you might pick for your team is Craig Bellamy. One of the announcers called him the perennial pest. And that just might be an apt nickname since he’s a constant threat on the wing. He drives at defenders with his pace and has the skill to create goal scoring chances or score himself. He’s a poor man’s Arjen Robben with tattoos, who might steal your wallet after he dribbles past you.
Goals by Tevez and Bellamy could have been stopped by a professional foul. Which seemed like if there was ever a time to use it would have been in those two moments. Carvalho or Terry could have bumped Tevez in the first half just enough to throw him off, and then Obi maybe should have bumped Bellamy in the second half, even though he did well to pushed him wide and force a bad angled shot. Better yet though for Chelsea, they could have used Petra Cech, and this would all have been moot, as Cech would have stopped both goals if he wasn’t out injured.
Michael Ballack should receive a severe three or four match ban for his tackle on Tevez. Stoke’s Shawcross tackle Arsenal’s Ramsey was reckless and horrible, but it was more of an accident. Ballack’s tackle, however, was cheap, dirty and malicious. If Chelsea owner wants to hand out fines, he should fine Ballack for his tackle on Tevez. The game has to stand up and protect its best and most exciting players.
The EPL table is now headed towards an exciting finish, and the team that lands in fourth place, and earn a Champions League place, just might be Mancini’s Manchester City.
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