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Chelsea 0-0 City

Despite the quality of the attacking players on the pitch there was a scarcity of opportunities as defences prevailed in Sunday afternoon's snoozefest at the Bridge...

Clive Rose
There wasn’t much to get excited about in yesterdays encounter at Stamford Bridge with neither side offering any real creative inspiration, but City will be relatively happy to depart with a clean sheet and a difficult fixture hurdled with no real discomfort. Led by the captain Kompany, somehow overcoming injury to retain his place at the heart of the defence, with Pablo Zabaleta strong and aggressive throughout, City restricted Chelsea to a handful of half chances. With Kolarov having a comfortable game and Nastasic continuing to quietly bed in alongside Kompany, the recent defensive improvement in domestic encounters was furthered here. Unfortunately in turn City were unable to prise the re-configured Chelsea back line apart, with Rafa Benitez organising the defence effectively in his first game at the helm.

The visitors shaded the affair in terms of possession and number of chances created but in truth City did not do enough to claim that they deserved to take maximum points here. With Dzeko again labouring when given a chance from the start and Aguero strangely subdued, there was no sharpness to compliment some decent approach play through midfield. Silva saw enough of the ball but found space at a premium, with Chelsea happy to cede midfield territory in order to restrict space in and around the last 18 yards of the field. And so for the first period, the pattern of play saw the Blues pressing into decent areas high up the pitch but unable to thread the ball through the massed ranks of the home side. In the second period things opened up to a degree with Chelsea beginning to show a little more ambition to win the game themselves but this was still by and large a very tepid affair.

With so much of the media attention on Benitez and his battle to win over the Chelsea fans and Fernando Torres much documented struggles at the head of the Chelsea forward line, it was a rarity for City and Mancini to come into an encounter and not be the main story, particularly in light of the Champions League exit midweek. The Blues, bedecked in their smart maroon change strip would have perhaps welcomed the focus being on the opposing team for a change. As Milner and Barry returned to the side with Nasri making way the intention was to keep things tight in midfield, contain the creative trio in the opposing ranks and rely on Silva, Aguero or Dzeko to come up with a moment of quality. It never truly materialised, with Aguero missing a close range header when well set and Dzeko rarely appearing in threatening areas, one cross shot cleared by Ashley Cole aside. Balotelli’s introduction, with 5 minutes remaining on the clock was notable for a harsh yellow card for simulation, when he was clearly checked by David Luiz on the edge of the Chelsea area. There was little else in the way of action worthy of comment.

Post game Mancini bemoaned the inability to create a clear opening and take the victory that would have seen City return to the summit of the EPL. All in all a draw here is never a bad result and the unbeaten run continues. With a local derby up next away to Wigan, it is to be hoped that the solidity in evidence here is matched by greater attacking thrust to ensure that City move towards tricky fixtures against Everton and the Manchester derby on the 9th December firing on all cylinders.

Man of the Match: Pablo Zabaleta