Shaun Botterill

FA Cup Semi Final: Manchester City v Chelsea

After a late finish at Wembley yesterday we are back once again today to bring you the coverage of the second semi-final which sees City take on Chelsea for the right to play Wigan in the FA Cup final.

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Manchester City v Chelsea: Game Numbers

This will be my final contribution from this FA Cup Semi Final weekend and it's an interesting one.

We shall look at the In Game TSR, the Shots Frequency, and Shots Location and Outcome.

In-Game TSR

This is an amazing graph. In my opinion the closing gap in TSR is a combination of of two factors. Firstly, Chelsea's tactical switch which brought Torres onto the field and Man City ceding territory and possession in order to protect the space around around their 18 yard box.

In_game_tsr_cc2_medium

The TSR battle became mighty close.

Shots Frequency

Cc2_freq_medium

This graph shows us Man City's golden spell in the first 20 minutes or so. City's second goal drastically altered their shots frequency. For Chelsea the recovery of their shots frequency was evident as soon as City gained the lead.

Again, things became mighty close at the end.

Shots Outcome

Cc2_shots_outcome_medium

These shots totals are manually counted, not OPTA data.

The shots outcomes for both teams are pretty close; five a piece on target, five misses for Chelsea, four missed for Man City. Four blocked shots to City, 2 to Chelsea.

All the numbers we have on this FA Cup semi-final between Man City and Chelsea point to the same conclusion: Strong early dominance from Man City who after scoring the second goal sat off and allowed Chelsea to push and probe in search of a way back into the game. Chelsea scored an importantly timed first goal, and despite some scsres and fine save from the City 'keeper, Chelsea just couldn't get find a way through and score that second goal to tie the game


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Manchester City v Chelsea: Five Thoughts

There are plenty of questions being asked of Chelsea's performance over the first hour in the wake of yesterday's defeat yet this should not diminish from City's display. True, there may have been tired legs and minds in the wake of their midweek trip to Russia, but City came out punching early; the movement in attack of Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez supported by Samir Nasri overwhelmed the ponderous defensive midfield duo of John Obi Mikel and Ramires. Chelsea's Wembley and FA Cup record (eight previous games unbeaten I believe) is such that a fightback was not a surprise but some smart substitutions from Roberto Mancini shored up the back line and City ultimately held firm.

Make no mistake, Chelsea came back into the game though. In terms of the key number measures the two halves were almost a reversal of one another. The first 45 minutes saw City dominate the shot count 10-2, but Chelsea reversed this after the break 10-3. At 2-0 down they out-shot City 5-0 and having trailed 54%-46% in terms of possession, but as City sat back and Chelsea pressed they ceded possession to the extent that Chelsea actually finished the match on top. Equally of note was the manner in which City's pass completion dipped after the break as the Chelsea pressure meant City were unable to force their game on their opponents.

Decisions, decisions. Rafa Benitez, whilst clearly disappointed in the post-match press conference was maganamous enough towards City, saying they had 'more determination, more confidence and played better with the ball', yet he was clearly unhappy with the two headline-grabbing decisions. Whilst trying to play a straight bat over Sergio Aguero's poor challenge on David Luiz it was the failure of Chris Foy to award a penalty following the incident between Vincent Kompany and Fernando Torres that disappointed the Spaniard. 'It was clear. The consequence could have been a yellow card, red card, and it could have changed the game.' In the stadium the challenge looked more of a tangle but still images do suggest Benitez may have had a case and if a penalty had been given (with a red card for Kompany too) City would have had a huge task to re-assert themselves in the game, with the spectre of extra-time looming.

There must be something about Wembley for Yaya Toure. Although not on the scoresheet this time around, his presence at each of City's last three visits has been immense. Whilst the forward trio of Aguero, Tevez and Nasri all lit up the attack the Ivorian was at his marauding best, moving The Times' Rory Smith to label him a 'buffalo in ballet shoes'. There were times during the game where Toure simply unstoppable, bulldozing through the Chelsea midfield and seemingly dragging opponents along with him. There will be plenty of focus on City's summer transfer targets yet securing Yaya Toure's future may prove to be the most important signing.

City will start as overwhelming favourites against Wigan yet the hard work may be ahead of City. Albeit it was against a limited Millwall side (from the lower reaches of the Championship) yet I was impressed with Wigan's performance on Saturday. The play between Callum McManaman, Shaun Maloney and Arouna Kone was as lively and spirited as anything we saw with City 24 hours later and in James McCarthy they look to have a real playmaker in their midst. The two sides of course meet this Wednesday so there may be some 'feeling out' of one another but it will important to note how Wigan progress in their battle against relegation ahead of the final (which is again played ahead of the final round of Premier League games) as this could well have an impact on the outcome.

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Manchester City v Chelsea:City's Early Edge Enough

For much of this FA Cup semi-final it appeared as though Manchester City would not have to move beyond third gear. Yes, they were purposeful and played with a confidence when in attack, but so little was the threat from Chelsea that discussion regarding the decision to start Costel Pantilimon over Joe Hart was in danger of becoming a moot point, given he was involvement in the first half was merely one of a spectator.

Was Chelsea anonymous first forty-five minutes a result of their midweek trip to Russia; energy sapped and tired bodies and minds, or a lack of leadership and presence with none of John Terry, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole in the starting line-up? The threat that the trio of Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Oscar can provide is an obvious one but in the opening 45 minutes Chelsea were reduced to jus two shots on target, both from distance and City's passing were crisper and delivered with greater purpose.

And when Sergio Aguero put City two goals to the good just two minutes into the second half the game appeared as good as won. Chelsea, however, suddenly found a way back, as if the jolt of Aguero's header had awoken them from their slumber. Fernando Torres was introduced, replacing John Obi Mikel, and Chelsea immediately pulled a goal back. A direct ball was well controlled by Demba Ba, who turned smartly and calmly finished beyond Pantilimon. The goal roused Chelsea and buoyed on by their support they pushed City back. Despite the presence of the 'three amigos' it was a more direct route that they profited from; both Vincent Kompany and Matina Nastasic unsettled and both City's possession and pass completion numbers tumbled as Chelsea laid siege.

As Rafa Benitez said post-game, Chelsea suddenly had 'more determination, more confidence and played better with the ball'. The match became an absorbing contest. Roberto Mancini replaced attackers Samir Nasri and Carlos Tevez, bringing on Javi Garcia and Joleon Lescott as Chelsea pressed. The first half shot count was reversed and Pantilimon justified his selection, saving bravely at the feet of Demba Ba, and he used his considerable height to his advantage to thwart a number of Chelsea balls into the box.

There was controversy too, Rafa Benitez claiming that Chelsea should have been awarded what was a 'clear penalty' when Torres and Kompany tangled and had a penalty been given (and a possible red card) extra-time would have loomed. Sergio Aguero too was perhaps also fortunate, appearing to stamp on David Luiz in the final minutes as the game closed with an edge.

City held firm though, deserving winners (as Mancini insisted) on the whole, and they now have the opportunity to make it three consecutive seasons with a major trophy and another feather in the cap of Roberto Mancini.

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Manchester City v Chelsea: A Game Of Two Halves

Coverage is thick and plentiful here at Bitter and Blue today as we continue our blanket coverage from the Wembley Press room.

It was a thrilling game which truly lived up tp one of the oldest football cliches: It was a game of two halves.

Man City were truly dominant in shots, passing and movement in the opening half an hour but once City went a goal up on 35 minutes through Nasri, their electric tempo cooled somewhat.

If the first half was Man City's, then there can be no doubt that the second half was Chelsea's.

Shots

First half Man City 10-2 Chelsea

Second half Man City 3-10 Chelsea

Score effects and game states are the big factor here in why Man City were out-shot so badly in the second half. This is the second game in a row where City have taken the lead against a quality opponent and have then gone on to try and shut the game down, play defensively' concede possession.

Possession Battle

This is how the possession battle played out over the course of the game. The first 15 minutes of data were unavailable, apolohgies. Still, this graph shows some cool things.

Cc_possession_medium

It was a long slow march for Chelsea in the possession battle'they got there eventually, just as they closed the gap in the shots battle, but that second goal could not be forced in.

Pass Accuracy

First TSR, then Possession and now pass completion all tell the same story: This game was getting closer and closer: City regressing, Chelsea fighting back. It just wasn't enough

Cc2v_pass_comp_medium

I'm really surprised that Chelsea's pass completion percentage didn't fall lower toward the end of the game when Chelsea, quite visibly, played it long and often. A specific Torres tactic perhaps?

City were just good enough in the end. But yet again, we saw the dangers of sitting back and protecting the positive game position. A few jangled nerves at the end, no doubt.

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Manchester City v Chelsea: Rafa 'A Clear Penalty'

Rafa Benitez insisted that Chelsea should have been awarded a penalty during their FA Cup semi-final defeat to Manchester City, feeling that had it been given it would have had 'big consequences'.

The incident, which occurred with just over ten minutes remaining saw Torres and City's Vincent Kompany challenging a long ball, and Kompany appeared to grab hold of Torres's shirt in the process. If given, it could have brought Chelsea level and saw City possibly reduced to ten men with Benitez feeling that a red card could also have been given.

Although Benitez conceded Chelsea were up against a good City team conceding the second goal was a 'disappointment' but having got themselves back into the game (and after Torres had been introduced) they showed 'more determination, more confidence and played better with the ball.'

Benitez was less candid when asked about the games other controversial decision, refusing to be drawn on the whether Sergio Aguero deserved a red card for what appeared to be a stamp on David Luiz in the final minutes. He did, however, defend his decision not to start John Terry, feeling that with certain players and situations it is 'not easy' to play twice a week.

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Manchester City v Chelsea:Mancini 'We Deserved It'

Roberto Mancini praised his side following their 2-1 win over Chelsea that sees City now face Wigan in next months FA Cup final.

Speaking post-game Mancini said he was happy 'because we deserved to win'. City had moved into a 2-0 lead early in he second half through Samir Nasri and Sergio Aguero but Demba Ba reduced the arrears as Chelsea, after an anonymous first half display, tried to force their way back into the game.

'We played very well in the first half but had a problem for ten minutes in the second half [at the time of Chelsea's goal] as we played like the game was finished.'

Mancini, however, refused to be drawn on the controversial incident that suggested Sergio Aguero stamped on David Luiz late in the game. When pressed, Mancini responded by saying 'I didn't see it. I need glasses.' Equally, he denied disagreed that Chelsea should have been awarded a penalty, instead pointing to an earlier incident where he felt that Yaya Toure had been fouled.

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Manchester City v Chelsea: City Through To Final

Manchester City advanced to the FA Cup final after an absorbing 2-1 victory over Chelsea at Wembley.

After wasting a pair of excellent opportunities at the end of the first half, City had one foot in the final just minutes after the break with Sergio Aguero's smart header from Gareth Barry's cross.

The goal didn't see City sit back and their dominance continued with Chelsea struggling for ideas and a way back into the contest, yet a hopeful ball over the top of the City saw defence saw Demba Ba turn smartly and hit past Costel Pantilimon. Chelsea were back in the game and Rafa Benitez had dispensed with caution, withdrawing John Obi Mikel in favour of Fernando Torres. Their tails were up and they almost pulled level on 70 minutes, Demba Ba forcing Pantilimon into a brave save low down.

Chelsea sensed their opportunity and City retreated back hoping to soak up the pressure. Roberto Mancini responded too the goal by taking off Carlos Tevez, who had worked manfully, bringing on Javi Garcia to shore up the midfield. Chelsea were profiting when direct, the presence of both Ba and Torres unsettling the City defence.

The game became an absorbing encounter and the latter stages saw an edge to the game too with Sergio Aguero fortunate the referee did not spot what appeared to be a stamp on David Luiz, but for all that Chelsea threw forward in the final minutes they couldn't find a way through and it is City who move on to the face Wigan in the final.

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Manchester City v Chelsea: Ba Gives Chelsea Hope

After looking dead and buried Chelsea have found a way back in the game.

A smart turn and finish from Demba Ba has reduced the arrears and Rafa Benitez has dispensed with caution, taking off John Obi Mikel for Fernando Torres with twenty-five minutes remaining.

All to play for still.

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Manchester City v Chelsea: City In Control

After wasting two excellent opportunities to increase their lead towards the end of the first half Sergio Aguero has struck within two minutes of the break to put City firmly in control.

City would have been mindful at 1-0 but they look well set with Chelsea unable to get a foothold in the game (coming just three days after a trip to Russia in the Europa League) and City seeking to increase their advantage even further.

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Manchester City v Chelsea: Half Time Numbers

City lead 1-0 as the teams enter the field for the second half.

Now Let's take a quick look at the first half numbers:

In Game TSr

Cc_tsr_medium

City dominant

Shots Frequency

Cc_frew_medium

City with the hot start.

Shots Location

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frequent shots from the red zone.

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Nasri Gives City The Edge

Manchester City are 45 minutes from the FA Cup final as they go in a half time with a 1-0 lead, no more than they deserved from their first half display.

City started the better of the sides, breaking with purpose and with the interplay and exchanges between Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero troubling the Chelsea defence, and it was Aguero who forced a smart reaction save from Peter Cech after five minutes.

Chelsea may have been feeling the effects of their midweek trip to Russia and City often had them on the back foot, the trio of Oscar, Eden Hazard nod Juan Mata unable to maintain consistent periods of possession. It was not until the 23rd minute of the game until Costel Pantilimon was tested in the City goal but this spurred Chelsea into life and Gareth Barry went into the book for bringing down Ramires as Chelsea shot to strike the first blow.

However, they could not build on this spell though as City broke the deadlock after 35 minutes. Yaya Toure, impressing as he so often does at Wembley, broke forward and teed up Samir Nasri to hit home from close range. City could have added to their total late in the half as both James Milner and particularly Vincent Kompany wasted excellent opportunities.

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Manchester City v Chelsea: Nasri Puts City Ahead

Goal! Samir Nasri opens the scoring here at Wembley with a close range poke past Cech

City started the brighter team and had spells of extended pressure in Chelsea's half.

Chelsea pushed back somewhat around the half hour mark and registered their first shot on target in the 24th minute which was cleared off the line.

Chelsea have naturallly pushed back in the minutes after conceding the first goal.

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Manchester City v Chelsea: Key Players

With David Silva not fit there will be more onus on Samir Nasri. As impressive the past few games as he was infuriatingly inconsistent before them, the question will be whether he can thrive in Silva's absence. He should move inside to a more central role with Carlos Tevez likely behind Sergio Aguero.

It was noticeable how deep Yaya Toure was against United last Monday, with Gareth Barry often in a more advanced role. Chelsea's starting line up features the trio of Oscar, Eden Hazard and Juan Mata which will mean Toure's presence and role as a deep lying midfielder will be crucial to City's defensive game.

Although Chelsea's three 'amigos' all start and all provide a threat to City, it is Juan Mata who will likely be the biggest danger. He has been involved in almost 40% of Chelsea's goals scored whilst he has been on the pitch and he possesses the ability to both create and score in equal measure.

Roberto Mancini has made a big call in selecting Costel Pantilimon (who has featured throughout in this years FA Cup) ahead of Joe Hart. Pantilimon has performed ably when called upon for the most part but does not provide the presence or assurance that Hart does.

With the selection of both Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez in attack City's forward line has the mobility to trouble Chelsea's central pair, themselves perhaps not the most mobile. Rafa Benitez has opted for both Ramires and John Obi Mikel and it is the latter who will likely have the responsibility of thwarting City's attacks early.

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Manchester v Chelsea: Starting XI's

An hour before kick-off and the team news is in.

As expected Hart stays on the bench and Costel Pantilimon retains his FA Cup starting berth.

Manchester City's Starting XI

Substitutes

Chelsea Starting XI

These are your teams, folks.

No Hart for Manchester City. No Terry, Lampard or Torres for Chelsea.

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Manchester City v Chelsea: Game State Numbers

Day 2 of the FA Cup semi finals. Yesterday's grey weather has given way to patchy blue skies and sporadic sunny spells.

It's preview time on the Man City v Chelsea story stream.

Trying to find a method by which to judge the strength of each team will prove to be mightily difficult using only FA Cup data. So why not use PL numbers as a proxy for team strength? We have 31 games of Premier League data by which to judge these two teams, and the numbers tell us some interesting things.

Game State Numbers

First off, Game State TSR:

City_v_che_tsr_medium

Man City are a dominant team al the way across the crucial game states, displaying no signs of the defensive shell that most teams employ at +1.

Chelsea, on the other hand, are a fine team at -1, not the greatest team at tied and show signs of that defensive shell at -1 with a 44.53% TSR.

Game State Goal Difference

Gs_gd_true_medium

Game state GD tells us one interesting thing about each team.

Firstly, Chelsea are an impressive goal difference team at -1 outscoring the opposition by 7 this term. Chelsea fall down a little at +1 outscoring the opposition by only 4 goals. Does Chelsea's low +1 TSR in the first graph give us a clue to their relatively low +1 GD?

Meanwhile, Man City aren't a great team at -1 but we know this. Tied Game State GD is pretty strong, but City's+1 GD is very impressive. Concede the first goal to Man City at your peril.

Game State PDO

City_che_pdo_medium

Man City's +1 PDO is around league average, but City's tied PDO is not. 98.9 is not a strong number for a dominant shots team like Man City.

Chelsea are a strong team at the minus game states and at tied, but Chelsea's PDO at -1 is not too impressive, and is down on the league average.

That is now three seperate issues with Chelsea's performance at +1 game state: A poor, but possibly tactically deliberate, TSR rating, a less than impressive +1 GD and a PDO number which is below league average. I think the root of this may well lie in Chelsea's decision to sit back and trade possession for space when leading by a goal. Man United employ a similar tactic but have been far more impressive in doing so which may be due to player quality.

Overall, City are the better shots team but have a much inferior PDO at -1 and tied game states. For Man City it's important, as always, to score first and let their very impressive TSR and PDO come to the fore once again.

For Chelsea a one goal lead isn't as secure as it is for most teams. Luckily for Chelsea that they are facing a Man City team who are a less than impressive team when trailing by a goal.

Soould be a great game this one. No David SIlva.

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