Manchester City 0 Chelsea 1 - five things we learnt including Eden Hazard is now 'top player' and Martin Demichelis could cost Manuel Pellegrini dear

Matic was even able to step up to Yaya Touré and match him for strength, speed and skill

Hazard is now ‘top player’ Mourinho asked him to be

The two best players this season have been Luis Suarez and Sergio Aguero, but if Eden Hazard were to finish with a Premier League winner’s medal, no one could possibly complain.

He must have been – with all due respect to Aaron Ramsey – the next best player in the league this season. Back in August, Jose Mourinho challenged Hazard to go from a “top talent” to a “top player”, one who applied himself throughout 90 minutes and who embraced his defensive duties as well as enjoying having the ball at his feet.

Hazard did all of these things and more yesterday, devastating City with his movement from the left. He gave Pablo Zabaleta, arguably the best right-back in the country, his hardest game of the season. There are a few other players who have Hazard’s pace but no one who can maintain such perfect control at the same time. He made the move for the first, cutting inside, running across the line and dragging City along with him.

Manchester City 0 Chelsea 1 match report: Off-colour City sent reeling by masterful Jose Mourinho

Having to rely on Demichelis could cost Pellegrini dear

If it felt slightly gluttonous on deadline day for Manchester City to pursue Porto holding midfielder Fernando, it made perfect sense last night as City’s dependence on Fernandinho was made desperately clear. Up until last night, Fernandinho and Yaya Touré had shown that a central midfield pair can still work in the Premier League if they have enough mobility, skill and intelligence.

Taking Fernandinho out of that pair, though, and replacing him with Martin Demichelis – desperately inferior in all three of those areas – undermined Manuel Pellegrini’s plan. He was slightly unfortunate to be without Javi Garcia, who has dovetailed with Touré well this season, but did have Jack Rodwell and James Milner on the bench.

Rodwell is a risk but Milner, surely, would have been a better option than Demichelis. But it was Fernando whom City wanted last week and while it might not have felt important at the time, they could have done with him last night.

 

Matic looks a class act in the centre of the park

If this was an ominous sign of the future quality of Chelsea teams, with Hazard and Willian storming forward, it was just as true further back, with the rangy control of Nemanja Matic. The 25-year-old, preferred to Jon Obi Mikel and Frank Lampard, two veterans of Mourinho’s first Chelsea team, was exceptional in central midfield. He was strong enough to win the ball back whenever City had it and stuck very tightly to David Silva, as City’s creativity was stifled.

Matic was even able to step up to Touré and try to match him for strength, speed and skill – something that Marouane Fellaini tried and emphatically failed to do earlier in the season. He nearly put Chelsea two up when he clipped the post from distance in the second half. Whether David Luiz, his impressive partner last night, will be trusted by Mourinho in the future remains to be seen.

Manchester City 0 Chelsea 1: Team Chelsea outwit City with Jose Mourinho exacting perfect game plan  

Preference for power and pace explains Mata’s exit

Never has it been clearer why Mourinho decided to dispense with the very obvious talents of Juan Mata. Brilliant as Mata is, he is a gentle, delicate creator and this is a team built on the rather different qualities of the fast, muscular counter-attack.

In his band of three playing behind Samuel Eto’o, Mourinho chose three far superior athletes to Mata: the stamina of Ramires on the right, the strength of Willian in the middle and then the surges of Hazard on the left. Their plan, was to break quickly and get in behind. Even Oscar – far closer, with his scurrying speed, to what Mourinho wants than Mata – did not get on until the 83rd minute.

Chelsea are very much in the running for this title

For all of Jose Mourinho’s suggestions that this was not a team built to challenge for the title, that second would be a real achievement for them this year and that they are only here to improve, this was a performance of the utmost credibility from Chelsea.

The last time City failed to score in a home league game was November 2010, during their worst run of a season in which they finished third. There can be no doubting the achievement of this victory in itself, never mind in the context of the title race, which is now in the balance.

Read more...
Off-colour Man City sent reeling by Mourinho
Manchester City 0 Chelsea 1 - player ratings from the Etihad
Chelsea masseur's 'Scottish' team-talk inspired victory
Five things we learnt at the Etihad Stadium
Mourinho: Chelsea are a little horse that 'needs milk and to learn how to jump'
Team Chelsea outwit City with Mourinho's perfect game plan
Deficiencies of Demichelis ruthlessly exposed by Chelsea
Pellegrini v Mourinho head-to-head analysis
Exclusive: City facing new threat of Champions League expulsion
Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
video
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Extras
indybest
News
Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been the teaching profession's favourite teacher
education
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform