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Chelsea 2 - 1 Manchester City: Five Thoughts

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The run has ended then. Last night's 2-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge put an end to the impressive unbeaten start City have made to the 2011/12 season (just four points dropped from 14 games prior to yesterday), but rather than recrimination the defeat should serve as something to reflect on just what a start City have made. It is only the very high standards that have been set this season that ultimately leads to such a reaction when they take even a slight dip.

With 15 games gone in the season City see themselves two points clear at the top of the Premier League table, having dropped only seven points to date - and importantly, with visits to Tottenham, United, Liverpool and Chelsea out of the way. After 15 games of a Premier League season no side has achieved the same points total City have reached and the lead is only the size it is due to the form of other sides, with United and Tottenham possessing points totals that would have seen them in top spot themselves over the majority of seasons.

City started the brighter side, the early goal from Mario Balotelli providing the platform their impressive start. The front players in particular troubled their opponents, pressing and pressuring Chelsea's defence. Before Chelsea had mustered a chance themselves City could have added to their lead but after the opening 25-30 minutes (and where they could have been awarded a penalty) the spark from their play diminished with Chelsea's midfield taking a greater hold of the game, with Romeu neat and compact in possession and Ramires a driving and thrusting force (out ‘Yaya-ing' Yaya?) and some poor defensive play from City (firstly allowing Sturridge to cross and then leaving Meireles unmarked) saw Chelsea level. With Clichy getting a second yellow on the hour there was an inevitability about how the game would play out: David Silva unable to command the game and the front pairing of Mario Balotelli and Sergio Aguero no longer the harrying and lively presence they had been early, and Chelsea got their winner from the spot after Joleon Lescott handled.

City had the better of the passing numbers, as they are inclined to do in games, but there was some key areas when looking at the stats from the game. Chelsea had the edge in attacking half passes (216/303 to 177/243), final third entries (75-51) and final third passes (108-153 to 72-109). From an attacking perspective, Chelsea were also ahead and won the shot battle (10-6) and created more chances (16-7) - also evidenced by City making more clearances (22-5) and blocks (5-1), as Chelsea's dominance in the second half (particular following Clichy's red card) in terms of territorial advantage was clear.

It is difficult to underplay the significance of the win for Chelsea. With their season under threat, they have posted back to back Premier League wins and avoided elimination from the Champions League over the past week. The relief and celebration (from players and fans) at the final whistle spoke volumes and they now trail City by seven points, not the 10 or 13 it would have been had City drawn or won. Andre Villas-Boas talked up their title chances after the game but seven points is still some difference to clawback. Chelsea may not be out of the Premier League race but it is too early to suggest they are right back in the thick it.