Chelsea FC pulled out a memorable win at the Etihad Stadium as Manchester City suffered their first Premier League defeat at home this season.
This was perhaps the most highly anticipated clash of the season so far. Manchester City went into this clash with a 100% record at home in the league this season and their last defeat at the Etihad Stadium came in the Champions League against Bayern Munich. It is fair to say few would have expected Chelsea to win this game, more so with a clean-sheet. The defeat has also helped Arsenal, who now have a two points advantage at the top, while Man City and Chelsea are tied at second with 53 points each.
The home side started the match brightly and looked the most likely of the sides to score. But after facing an early Man City storm, Chelsea fought their way back into the match and Branislav Ivanovic provided them with the lead in the 32nd minute. Eden Hazard found Ramires at the end of the box with a cut back from the right. The Brazilian midfielder’s initial shot was blocked and the rebound reached Ivanovic who found the right hand bottom corner.
Despite all their efforts Manchester City failed to score and Chelsea looked dangerous on the counter attack. Petr Cech became the first goalkeeper since Ben Foster to keep a clean-sheet at this ground. It was an efficient performance from the Blues and one that will send out a big statement to the rest of the Premier League.
Jose Mourinho expressed his delight at this wonderful result and performance the fact that his side managed to do a double over a side like Manchester City this season.
“I think we played fantastic, against a fantastic team. To play the way we did, I think is amazing for the boys in this process of building the team and prepare the team to be one of the favourites next season.
“I think this is a very important step – the best team in the Premier League, we beat them twice (home and away), and especially today we were fantastic.
“They had a couple of chances to score but we had the better chances to kill the game and the players played with fantastic spirit – the way I was trying to explain.
“You never know how things go but when they had the ball, we were all very humble and all very ready to work a lot defensively.
“When we had the ball, we were trying to play and we played very well.” – The Chelsea manager said.
But despite this amazing win Mourinho refused to label his side as the favourites for the title this season.
“We are there, but we are not favourites.
“I just think it is very important because it is not good for the evolution of the team if you are playing in the Premier League 10, 15 points behind the leaders.
“It is not good for the evolution of the team if you are playing Europa League. We need big things… we need these kind of matches with the pressure we felt today and this for the team is very important.” – Mourinho added.
The Portuguese manager also refused to pick out a single player from today’s win, but did mention Petr Cech, Ivanovic and Azpilicueta for their efforts.
“I think they did amazing. When the team needed Petr (Cech), he was there, Ivanovic as a defender to score that goal is fantastic, the central defenders were immaculate.
“Azpilicueta was up against Speedy Gonzales, because Jesus [Navas] is unbelievably fast, but he did a fantastic job. The midfield players worked fantastic and the attacking players were always dangerous and when the team lost the ball, they all sacrificed for the team and everyone gave a great contribution.”
Mourinho also stressed on the fact that his side were the better team on night.
“The record was not good against them in the last years. This season, we managed to win these two matches in the Premier League – the first one we won basically because Nando [Fernando Torres] was so smart, so clever in that last ball in the game, and today we won because we were the best team.
“But I am not saying we are better than them, I am not saying that. I am just saying we were better and the boys deserve the victory.” – He explained.
Mourinho was also asked the reason why he focusing on his side’s title chances, the former Real Madrid manager said:
“Because it is not our objective to do that, our objective is to build a team. Our objective is to complete the puzzle and, more than the puzzle, complete the formation of the players.
“Some managers, some clubs because of their nature, their DNA say I need two, three, four, five years. I want to start the next pre-season in the summer and to say, and also my players to say, that this season we are going to compete directly with the best and we consider ourselves one of the favourites.
“This season, I’m sorry I can’t do that.”