Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic said after his side maintained their five-point lead at the top of the Premier League that Diego Costa will like the attention he has received after putting a boot on Liverpool players earned him a three-match ban.
“Diego likes attention,” Ivanovic said of his Brazilian-born team-mate, whose suspension infuriated Chelsea’s manager, Jose Mourinho. “He likes for people to speak about him. This makes him a better player. This is his way to play. For me there is nothing wrong with that.”
Offering an insight into Mourinho’s motives for putting himself at war with the world, the Serb also said the siege mentality the manager is so clearly trying to manufacture is helping to motivate the side.
Mourinho raged against Sky, match officials, and even briefly seemed unhappy with his own supporters’ response to a Gary Cahill error in Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Manchester City, after which he refused to give a press conference. Ivanovic said: “I think this [siege mentality] is part of the mentality to win. You need to motivate yourself. To go over the limit. Even if you don’t think someone is against you, you have to find motivation. It is important in winning matches to find extra motivation inside yourself.
“Sometimes we need to feel this extra pressure. It’s very difficult to judge. We know our game, the way we play, our style to fight, to give everything every single game, so this is a positive side. We are living in the moment.”
The City manager, Manuel Pellegrini, suggested his team may need 90 points – four more than last season – to retain their Premier League title. Pellegrini, who said there was no injury concern about substituted Sergio Aguero, observed that Mourinho’s team had finished the first half of the season with 45 points. Of the possible necessity for 90 points to be crowned champions, he said: “That can be. We don’t know. We can’t know what will happen…”
Chelsea vs Manchester City player ratings
Chelsea vs Manchester City player ratings
1/23 Thibaut Courtois - 4
Horrendous mistake for the first goal, completely mistiming his punch. Was solid in every other part of his game but matches of this magnitude are often won and lost on the small details.
2/23 Branislav Ivanovic - 6
Terrible first half performance that included three terrible errors that, fortunately for Chelsea, went unpunished. Made up for that with a brilliant pass to find Hazard for the goal and was much better after half-time.
3/23 John Terry - 7
Made one bad error when he got underneath a long ball to allow Aguero through on goal but again proved he is the best English defender out there.
4/23 Kurt Zouma - 8
Still has huge room for improvement but the 20-year-old has all the tools to become one of the very best in the world. Deserves to be keeping England's first-choice centre-back on the sidelines.
5/23 Cesar Azpilicueta - 5
Jesus Navas had the better of his compatriot all evening. Azpilicueta was beaten in a way Chelsea fans have not often seen.
6/23 Nemanja Matic - 8
Stepped up his game in the absence of Fabregas to put in a complete midfield performance. Truly great on and off the ball, the giant Serbian was the best player on the park.
7/23 Ramires - 7
Held his position well as the holding midfielder and only made the occasional burst forward, Ramires was very good but its hard to argue that the Blues missed the wizardry of Cesc Fabregas.
8/23 Willian - 5
Hassled and harried his way through the 90 minutes, Willian was excellent in the defensive and middle thirds of the field but produced little to nothing in areas where he could do damage. Set-pieces delivery was also poor.
9/23 Oscar - 6
Another who failed to produce in the final third, Oscar played deeper than he has done for the most part this season which blunted his effectiveness
10/23 Eden Hazard - 6
Brilliant in the first 45, causing all sorts of problems for Bacary Sagna but was extremely quiet after the break as City closed off the space around the dangerous Belgian.
11/23 Loic Remy - 7
Was brilliant in the lone striker role, holding the ball up well to bring his team-mates into the game. Great movement to find space for the goal, it was a shame for Chelsea that the trio behind him starved the striker of service.
12/23 Joe Hart - 6
Nothing he could do about the goal and was hardly tested otherwise by the home side. Looked reasonably solid throughout, bar one dodgy kick.
13/23 Bacary Sagna - 6
Struggled in the first half against Hazard but grew into it as it went on, to snuff out the Hazard threat. Combined excellently with Jesus Navas. Lost Hazard for the goal.
14/23 Vincent Kompany - 7
Defender manfully, though he wasn't always the most comfrotable in possession. In truth, Chelsea didn't offer much threat.
15/23 Martin Demichelis - 7
Had an excellent match but went to sleep to allow Loic Remy to steal into yards of space for the goal.
16/23 Gael Clichy - 8
Didn't put a foot wrong on the left and never gave Willian the chance to do anything of note in the final third. Offered a good outlet going forward as well.
17/23 Fernandinho - 7
Was one of the best City performers with a display full of energy and purpose. Pushed the visitors forward, passed well and was not averse to stopping Chelsea by any means necessary.
18/23 Fernando - 7
Gave Matic as good as he got in midfield and provided the City defence with superb cover throughout the game.
19/23 Jesus Navas - 7
Gave Cesar Azpilicueta the hardest game he's played all season but for all the occasions he beat his opposite number he failed to deliver that telling ball.
20/23 James Milner - 7
Barely troubled Ivanovic as an attacking force but you can't downplay his importance to the City cause as a worker and defender.
21/23 David Silva - 7
Was not able to offer his usual craft when in possession as he was well marshalled by Matic and Ramires, but got an absolutely vital touch to turn Aguero's shot past Ivanovic.
22/23 Sergio Aguero - 5
Five games since returning from injury and the usually lethal striker is misfiring. Latched on to a Terry mistake to race through on goal for a chance that a pre-injury Aguero would have tucked away - he fired wide.
23/23 Frank Lampard - 5
The stage looked set for another Lampard goal against his former club but it was not to be. Given a great ovation at the end from his former supporters.
Pellegrini repeated the assertion he made after the 1-1 draw at the Etihad in September that City are the creative side of the two challenging for the title – though without comparing Mourinho’s to Stoke City, as he did then. “Both teams have a clear style of play,” he said. “We tried to create space against the team that tried to defend space near their own box.”
He also said that City’s title last season had nothing to do with Chelsea winning at Anfield in April. “I like [our] style,” he said. “That’s why we deserved the title last year – not just because [Steven] Gerrard slipped in one ball [against Chelsea]. It was not just one point. We were two points clear of Liverpool because we were the best team of the year.”
Frank Lampard, now of City, rejected the idea that his team has more title winners than Chelsea these days. “Is that right?” he said. “I think it’s close. They are a very, very experienced team. I’ve just been in the [Chelsea] dressing room and you have got John [Terry], Didier [Drogba] and Petr [Cech] – you can go on – and you have got young, hungry players who want to win it. It’s the same as our dressing room.”
Lampard confirmed that he and Mourinho had texted each other at Christmas following the former Chelsea midfielder’s decision to sign for City. “Yes, I did [text him],” Lampard said. “I got a text at Christmas. I texted him back. We spoke there in the dressing room: ‘How’s the family?’ The usual. We are grown men.
“As you get a bit older you understand that as a professional it’s your job and you move on, and I’m sure we’re both big enough that none of that is going to get in the way of our relationship and how we are personally.”