FOX Soccer Exclusive
City eliminates Chelsea from FA Cup
Stevan Jovetic made sure there would be no repeat of the horror-show City endured almost a fortnight ago, firing home after just 16 minutes to lead Manchester City to a 2-0 win over Chelsea. Samir Nasri also scored on his return to action after a five-week layoff to ensure the Citizens of their place in the quarterfinals of the FA Cup.
It was a fitting and deserved win for City, who were better in every aspect of the game, and it stamped a coda on a week that had seen managers Jose Mourinho and Manuel Pellegrini joust in the press. Pellegrini had tried to take the high road in the war of words after Mourinho spent a solid week needling him, finally getting some relief when the Chelsea manager decided on Friday to re-aim his guns in Arsene Wenger’s direction.
"I don't say my team failed, I say City played much better than us, deserved much more than us to win," Mourinho said after the match. "The situation is simple to analyze, they were the best team, they won. [Saturday] proved how difficult it is to win here, which shows how well my team did in the last game."
If this all sounds a bit tired, that’s because it was. This match was not a classic, with Chelsea looking subdued, perhaps shaking off their disappointing midweek draw against West Bromwich Albion. City had good reason to be the fresher as well: their Wednesday night game against Sunderland was called off due to high winds, in a first since the Premier League began in 1992. Sunderland also benefitted from the layoff; they won 1-0 over Southampton on Saturday to book their place as well alongside holders Wigan, who won 2-1 at Cardiff.
Just fifteen minutes into the match, Jovetic barreled his way into the area to rasp a shot onto the crossbar after Petr Cech had spilled a long-range effort from Yaya Toure. Then, a minute later, with Edin Dzeko laying the ball off to his right and onto Jovetic’s laces on the gallop, the striker pinged his shot into the net off the far post through Cesar Azpilicueta’s legs.
The Citizens fully deserved their lead, playing a far more aggressive, pressing game than they had in their Premier League encounter. Yaya Toure evaded Jose Mourinho’s attempt to pincer him in through John Obi Mikel and Ramires, loping forward at will to test David Luiz in the heart of Chelsea’s defense. Edin Dzeko was far more of a presence than he has been, driving into the area and forcing the defense to collapse around him.
Moreover, Chelsea could not break the pressure. Vincent Kompany ably swatted away most attempts to cross the halfway line, while the Blues’ attack seemed stuck in second gear. Eden Hazard and Willian only showed quality in flashes, with the best moment coming when Samuel Eto’o cleverly peeled away on a free kick, only to have Willian’s service bounce too far in front of him.
Nasri put the game out of reach after entering as a second-half sub with virtually his first touch of the game. Running a give-and-go with David Silva, Nasri continued his run right down the gut for the layoff, ultimately slamming the ball home past a helpless Cech.
City had clearly learned their lessons. In their previous meeting, they hung back and allowed Chelsea space to run into. Not on Saturday, though. For a solid ten minutes in the first half, Chelsea could not get the ball out of their own half, and when they did, they had little bite. More surprising was the fact that none of the moves Mourinho made had any effect. Mohamed Salah, thrown in at the half, promptly disappeared, and Fernando Torres made the same minimal contribution as usual. Only Oscar brought a bit of flair to the proceedings, but by the time he entered, it was far too late.
"Twelve days ago we had a really bad game," said City captain Kompany after the match. "We gave them a lot of chances and in my opinion we gave those chances away. "It was a big one against a strong team and you know we love this competition. It was a great game, and I’m really happy with the result."
Kompany added: "Obviously the dressing room wanted revenge, and from the word go we were hard into the challenges and spot on in creating chances. We didn’t give any chances away, we adapted to their attacks and from there it became a pretty comfortable game."
Fans faced a struggle just to get up to the game on Saturday as England continues to be wracked by historic storms. 5,000 troops have now been deployed in the south of England to help with the devastating floods, while up north, winds in excess of 108 mph were recorded. At least four people have died as a result of the storms, including a cab driver who was killed in central London Friday night when a piece of a building near Holborn Tube station was ripped off by the winds and fell on to her parked car below. The weather also claimed Sheffield Wednesday’s game against Charlton, postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.
On Sunday, Arsenal host Liverpool in another fortuitous rematch: the Reds whipped the Gunners 5-1 last weekend and the Londoners are eager to make amends. That match highlights a full of action that also sees Tim Howard’s Everton host Swansea, Sheffield United face Nottingham Forest and on Monday, Brighton entertain Hull.
More Stories From Jamie Trecker