After smashing in goals galore from all angles – and from all players - on their way to racking up five consecutive Premier League victories, champions Chelsea were brought back down to earth as Manchester City inflicted a 1-0 defeat on the Blues at the weekend.
What was dubbed by many as ‘Chelsea’s first real test’ Ancelotti’s men failed to live up to their swashbuckling play of previous weeks as they struggled to find any real rhythm and tempo to their game.
Much credit has to go to City though for their midfield endeavour and harrying of the champions, denying them any real time and space on the ball.
Last week, I praised Chelsea’s much-vaunted front three of Drogba, Malouda and Anelka. This week, the same front three were completely stifled and unable to shake off the City shackles. Again, credit to Mancini and City for that.
City did not look like conceding as their defence and midfield, driven by the brilliant Yaya Toure, kept the champions at arms length for large parts of the game.
Chelsea’s first defeat of the season may not be as bad as first thought, however, as their main rivals Arsenal and then Manchester United both failed to win once again, leaving Chelsea three points clear of the latter with a far superior goal difference.
The tale of the last two games for the Blues mirrors last season as a Carling Cup exit was quickly followed up by a 2-1 defeat to Manchester City.
However, it is much of a reminder as it is coincidence, to Chelsea and the rest of their rivals, that Ancelotti’s men bounced back by going on to lift the Premier League and the FA Cup which what is seen by many, as the more prestigious domestic cup competition with its obvious history. Chelsea fans and players alike will be hoping for something similar come May.
The next few weeks are undoubtedly testing for the Blues as they face a tricky Champions League tie versus French champions Marseille and old boy Didier Deschamps followed by a mouth-watering game at the weekend against fierce rivals Arsenal.
That game takes on extra significance after both succumbed to rare defeats at the weekend. The ‘tricky’ period ends with a trip to Aston Villa, a place where Chelsea have somewhat struggled in the past few years and Villa will no doubt be buoyed by the arrival of the experienced Gerard Houllier.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.
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