Chelsea 6 Manchester City 0: Roman's resurgent empire razes City to ruins
Monday 29 October 2007
If this didn't please Roman Abramovich, then nothing will, but he seemed to like it as cameras caught him making that half-smile of his. The Chelsea owner saw his club's biggest Premier League win in 10 years – since beating Barnsley 6-0 away in August 1997 – while it was Manchester City's worst defeat in the top flight since losing by the same score at Liverpool in October 1995. They also lost 5-0 against Arsenal in October 2000. City fans must be worried they still have one more game this month.
To emphasise how bad a day this was in all aspects for the visitors, it was Sven Goran Eriksson's worst defeat as a manager since a 5-1 European Cup-Winners' Cup quarter-final against Arsenal in early 1980 when he was in charge of IFK Gothenburg, something which the Swede remembered surprisingly quickly for something that happened 27 years ago. City, however, will want to forget this result as soon as possible. Eriksson promised normal service, which has taken them to the top four of the Premier League, will be resumed promptly.
This was a sharp reminder that while City have come a long way this season, thoughts of the Champions League should be put on hold. As Eriksson himself said, much more of this and they will not even be in the same division as Chelsea next season.
This was the Londoners' best performance under the fledgling managerial era of Avram Grant but, in truth, it was made easy for them. City never appeared set up to combat Chelsea's formation or their increasingly successful attempts to play slick, flowing football that is easy on the eye. It is still a "process" in the making, according to Grant, but he sees that success lies in this way of football.
Only two league defeats so far for City this campaign should have meant a far closer game but some serious flaws were revealed in defence and midfield, as they were unpicked by Frank Lampard's dominance of the latter and Didier Drogba's control of the former.
Eriksson bemoaned his players' failure to defend as a team, but when you have a striker like Giorgios Samaras who barely plays like one, you can hardly expect him to be competent in other areas. In central midfield, Dietmar Hamann and Michael Johnson, at opposite ends of the age and experience range, failed to put any pressure on the ball when Lampard or John Obi Mikel received it, and then duly backed off, ceding ground into the bargain.
Once the first goal went in, when Lampard found Michael Essien, City panicked and the pattern for the afternoon had been set. That first strike saw Essien slip inside the visitors' left-back Javier Garrido and the Spaniard endured a horrendous game. Time after time, Joe Cole, Essien, or Juliano Belletti, up from his right-back berth, attacked the Spaniard, and five goals were scored from where he should have been. This did not escape Eriksson's attention, even if he refused to single out any guilty parties. He did not need to. When City were forced to back-track, Garrido was so often out of position that Chelsea had at least one man over. At this level, it was an embarrassing performance.
Lampard was involved in three of the goals, his best moment coming when he bent a pass behind Micah Richards and into the path of Drogba for the second strike. That was particularly sweet,as he had just been booked after an altercation that Richards initiated.
Lampard, currently a substitute for England, acknowledged his performances have recently slipped. "I've dropped below the standards I want to set," he said. "What player doesn't? When you get to the top there are people waiting for you to come down. I've had that but it doesn't bother me. I've got nothing to prove."
Here he proved he can still control a game and when his second-half shot was saved, Drogba seized on the rebound. The Ivorian then set up Cole, whose first touch took him away from City's back four and then Salomon Kalou moved past Garrido for the fifth. And that Abramovich smile may just as easily have been for Andrei Shevchenko's first league goal this season as for the overall performance.
Goals: Essien (17) 1-0; Drogba (31) 2-0; Drogba (56) 3-0; J Cole (60) 4-0; Kalou (75) 5-0; Shevchenko (90) 6-0
Chelsea (4-3-3): Cech; Belletti, Alex, Carvalho, Ferreira; Essien, Lampard, Mikel; J Cole (Shevchenko, 67), Drogba (Pizarro, 80), Kalou. Substitutes not used: Cudicini (gk), Makelele, Ben Haim.
Manchester City (4-4-1-1): Hart; Corluka, Dunne, Richards, Garrido; Ireland (Vassell, 63), Hamann (Ball, 66), Johnson, Petrov; Elano (Bianchi, 73); Samaras. Substitutes not used: Isaksson (gk), Onuoha.
Referee: M Riley (Yorkshire).
Booked: Chelsea Essien, Lampard; Manchester City Richards, Johnson.
Man of the match: Lampard.
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