James Lawton: Luiz's creative instinct exposes the poverty of City's ambition

A draw seems the height of City's ambition whenever they face a team of serious quality

There's not a lot more you can say about Robert Mancini's campaign plan, for or against, except that it seems increasingly unlikely that he will survive it.

One absurdity was placed upon another when, in the final stages, Mario Balotelli – earlier considered too unstable to start one of the most important games of the season – and Adam Johnson were sent on. It was a late and desperate effort to rescue a draw, which is almost invariably the height of City's ambition whenever they go against a team of serious quality.

This kind of thinking tends to catch up with you and if anyone has arrived in English football with a belief that his destiny is to ride over, legally or not, anyone less than convinced about his own power and nerve, it is surely Chelsea's sensational signing David Luiz.

Luiz overwhelmed City's tank trap defence when he mesmerised full-back Micah Richards into conceding a free kick, then quite superbly headed past Joe Hart when Didier Drogba sent in one of his set-piece mortar-shell crosses.

For anyone who hasn't been closely following the extrovert young Brazilian's dramatic progress these last few weeks, it may be necessary to say he is a designated defender.

However, Luiz is more than that. He is a force of nature, as unscrupulous in some of his play as he is often superbly inventive. He has now scored two goals to break both of the Manchester clubs and it was hard to know who watched his latest triumph more closely, Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, who paid out $50m for Fernando Torres and is still to celebrate one of the Spaniard's classic goals on behalf of his new club – or the frustrated Torres.

Torres looked sorrowful enough when he was withdrawn by manager Carlo Ancelotti in favour of Drogba and Nicolas Anelka and Abramovich's expression was at the very least intriguing, both when his mega-signing trooped off the field with a now familiar desolation and then when his team-mates got down to the business of breaking down City.

Chelsea were still some way from the kind of eviscerating form which marked them out at the end of last season and the start of this one but when Drogba and Anelka arrived they did begin to look eminently capable of putting City to the sword. That was hardly the case before Ancelotti transformed his team.

Where it leaves the Chelsea manager is one of the season's most riveting human dramas. Undermined repeatedly, he remains arguably the Premier League's most viable Champions League challenger – especially when you consider the mayhem in the Manchester United medical room – and there is no doubt the arrival of Luiz has created a new and sparkling sense of well-being at Stamford Bridge.

A tired, apparently played out team may just be sparking back into life. If nothing else it could provoke a fresh hand-to-hand debate about the way the world's second-richest football treats the hired help, how brilliantly they have performed in previous employment.

For Mancini, the end of a nightmarish week – in which his team were expelled from the Europa League and Balotelli had exceeded some of the worst fears about his chronic lack of discipline – surely brings still more appraisal of a policy which set a Champions League qualifying place as the apex of ambition.

Many fans say they are happy with such modest parameters, however much money has been spent and despite how many times the team makes a parody of the kind of football you might expect from the wealthiest club in the game. Perhaps a lot depends on what exactly moves your soul.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Living for the moment: Julianne Moore playing Alzheimer’s sufferer Alice
Jay Z
businessJay-Z's bid for Spotify rival could be blocked
The spider makes its break for freedom
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle v United player ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot