Manchester City 3 Chelsea 0: How Chelsea could have won at the Etihad

ANALYSIS: We've teamed up with Sports Interactive, the makers of Football Manager, to re-run one of the weekend's key games to see how the losers might have prevailed had they done things differently

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The Independent Online

Chelsea lost 3-0 to Manchester City on Sunday in a match that many are seeing as potentially crucial to where the title ends up. But could Jose Mourinho have done things differently and left the Etihad with all three points? If he had set up his team as below, he might have done...

THE RE-RUN...

Chelsea formation: 4-2-3-1

Line-up: Begovic, Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta, Matic, Ramires, Cuadrado, Willian, Hazard, Costa

Final Score: Man City 0-1 Chelsea (Scorer: Hazard)

By leaving Fabregas out of the starting eleven, Mourinho is able to completely change philosophy to thwart Pellegrini’s attacking style of play. The ‘Special One’ deploys both Matic and Ramires as ball-winning midfielders, hoping that they will be able to win the ball high up the pitch and isolate City’s defence against Chelsea’s own potent, attacking force.

Fabregas.jpg

 

The tactical switch works to perfection. Matic makes eleven interceptions and wins nine tackles while Ramires makes eight interceptions and wins four tackles. Matic’s play in the final third is also exemplary as he makes five key passes through to Hazard and Costa. Ramires claims the assist for the goal with a delicate lofted through ball that Costa latches onto and slams past Hart as City struggle to adapt to this high pressing strategy.

 

Fernandinho and Mangala are the two players who are most guilty of giving the ball away. Between them, they misplaced ten passes and invited unnecessary pressure onto City’s backline.

Defensively, Chelsea operate much tighter and narrower than they did on Sunday. Ivanovic takes the risk of allowing Sterling to run at him but City’s new signing rarely threatens Begovic’s goal. Chelsea continue to struggle to contain Yaya Toure and in the last fifteen minutes, Matic has to drop deeper to help his defence. Toure pass completion rate drops by 7 per cent in this period.

City manage to get six shots on target – including two from close range – but Begovic is in inspired form to deny City an equaliser.

Football Manager uses a vast database - compiled by approximately 1,300 researchers across the world (including real-life scouts) - to blend reality and fiction. So impressive is the information that it has become a tool used by real life managers. The painstakingly detailing simulation of club management, which allows players to control every aspect of a manager's role, from scouting new player to tactics and training, has sold millions of copies worldwide.

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