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Sunday, August 16, 2015

Chelsea's problems down the right exposed in Man City 3-0 defeat

Branislav Ivanovic struggled to deal with Manchester City's threat down Chelsea's right side

Branislav Ivanovic struggled to deal with Manchester City's threat down Chelsea's right side
Jose Mourinho's record against the top four speaks for itself, but at the Etihad Stadium both him and his Chelsea side got it worryingly wrong.
Before the Super Sunday clash against Manchester City, a sobering 3-0 defeat, Mourinho had lost just seven of his 74 games against top four opposition in the league dating back to his time at Porto, picking up 153 points out of a possible 222. 
Over the course of his two spells at Chelsea, he had made just two slip-ups against top four opposition in the Premier League, and the two 1-1 draws against City last term was Mourinho all over, followed by a title to show for it.
The 31-year-old has been a stalwart in Chelsea's defence, but has had a fortnight to forget
The 31-year-old has been a stalwart in Chelsea's defence, but has had a fortnight to forget
The 52-year-old called Sunday's defeat a "fake result", a bogus representation of his side's dominance in the second half, but "bizarre" would have been a more fitting description.
Chelsea's failings down the right side of defence were fresh in the memory from last weekend's 2-2 draw at home to Swansea, but for a Mourinho side to be caught out for similar traits two games running is peculiar.
His line-up surprised few; the industrious Ramires and Willian were alongside Eden Hazard in a three behind Diego Costa, despite the two Brazilian midfielders scoring just 15 league goals between them in the past three seasons.
Jose Mourinho's strong record against top four opposition was tainted at the Etihad
Jose Mourinho's strong record against top four opposition was tainted at the Etihad
Mourinho set up not to concede, as he has the majority of those 74 times previous against top opposition since 2003, but five early chances for Sergio Aguero suggested something was awry.
It was no surprise that the vast majority of City's attacking play came down their left, with Branislav Ivanovic having another afternoon to forget, not helped by Ramires on the right side of midfield.
While Cesar Azpilicueta spent most the game in City's half, Ivanovic's average position was pegged back dead in line with the centre-halves, unusual for a full-back.

Problems at Chelsea?

Jose Mourinho's bad week got worse at Man City as the issues mount for the Chelsea boss.
He struggled with Aleksandar Kolarov and Raheem Sterling's overlapping, dragged Gary Cahill out with him, and just eight days after being given the runaround by Jefferson Montero of Swansea, was Chelsea's weak link again.
The signing of Augsburg left-back Baba Rahman, confirmed by the Bundesliga club a matter of minutes after the final whistle, may be a welcome threat for 31-year-old Ivanovic, with current left-back Azpilicueta similarly adept on the right side.
But Ivanovic was not alone. Cesc Fabregas was deployed in a deep-lying central midfield two alongside Nemanja Matic, but he loitered in City's half far too often without retreating, exposing the back four and leading Mourinho to take off John Terry for the first time in the Premier League.
Ramires struggled to impose himself on the game at the Etihad Stadium
Ramires struggled to impose himself on the game at the Etihad Stadium
At the other end, in a first half of few chances for the visitors, their dependence on Costa and Hazard became obvious as a gilt-edged chance was spurned by Ramires on the edge of the area in the 42nd minute.
Two goals last season, one the season before, Ramires was slow to compose himself, and it summed up Chelsea's afternoon.
The Brazilian was caught somewhere between defending and attacking for his 64-minute stint, and made just 18 passes, the least of any outfield player who played over 45 minutes, and 61 less than Fabregas.
Mourinho defends his decision to substitute captain John Terry at half-time
Mourinho defends his decision to substitute captain John Terry at half-time
Mourinho's side turned anger to headway in the second period, but City eventually broke from sustained pressure to put the game to bed.
It was a performance of resistance from Manuel Pellegrini, he refused to let the game be dictated by a workhorse midfield, and sits five points ahead of the champions with just two games gone.
[Gerard Brand, skysports]

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