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.