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Five Thoughts: Manchester City 1-1 Chelsea

Managers sniping, Milner and Mangala shining, Lampard stunning and poll

Shaun Botterill

Part the First: Pellegrini no likey Mourinho and vice versa

Zero love lost between the two managers, of that we can all conclude. Immediately after the match, Pellegrini jibed that Chelsea played like a ‘small club' with their ultra-defensive style. Mourinho went schoolyard, calling our manager ‘Pellegrino' a hypocrite because there's some kind of agreement that the managers aren't supposed to talk about other players or something (Mourinho can be hard to follow at times). Other than the managers sniping at each other, there was much to talk about in this extraordinary encounter. Where to begin? Lampard's goal against his former team got the headlines but was just part of the narrative, not least of which was the increasing importance of James Milner who was largely responsible for Lampard's goal. Milner played three different positions in a MOTM performance. There was Zaba's red card for a deserved 2nd yellow though his first was soft, and Costa grabbing Zaba by the throat should probably have drawn a red card in and of itself. There was City on the attack a man down, thanks to Pellegrini's shrewd man-management, including subbing off Kolarov for Lampard, something I thought unwise but shows what I know. Yaya, rewarding the faith of his manager, played quite well which was a relief to every Citizen fan on the planet. Nobody on the City side seemed to play particularly poorly, though the strikers getting neutered by the Chelsea defense was frustrating. There is also the small matter of having a baker's dozen set pieces and nothing to show for it (one shot on goal-one). Of the two teams, I thought City played better, were hard done by the red card and showed enormous fortitude afterward to get the draw. There is but little doubt the two best teams in the league were on display at the Etihad. If we're lucky, we'll see these two again in other competitions in addition to their second league meeting.

Part the Second: The Favorite Toy

Eliaquim Mangala wasn't as good as advertised. He was better. Granting the yeoman work of Demichelis, who I think should be cemented in City lore forever for efforts in our most recent championship season, he'll be hard pressed to see the pitch in the near future. Chelsea loves nothing more than to claim they've got the very best CB's in the league, failing to recognize that neither Terry nor Cahill are as good Vincent Kompany (no one is, period) and now Mangala, who was one of the major reasons why City had their best tackling game in recent memory, is poised to become one of the very best defenders in the world. I honestly don't see how anything can stop him other than a bad attitude (no evidence of that) or injuries. The favorite toy was finally unwrapped and it was well worth the wait.

Part the Third: Our new concern

It's not something to panic about yet but it's been a few matches since our strikers have struck. Since Aguero's goal against Arsenal, neither Sergio nor Dzeko has found the back of the net (in Edin's case, it's been quite a while). Besides that, we've only got the two strikers, period. Our back line is really, really good with Mangala. Our midfield is really, really good with a rejuvenated Yaya, a Fernandinho who is playing like some kind of hybrid of Yaya and Fernando, the usual magicians and speed demons we've been cheering on for many a moon and James Milner who, near as we can tell, can play every position on the pitch. And then there are our strikers. I thought both Aguero and Dzeko played competently against Chelsea but I would like to see more success against the elite teams such as Bayern and Chelsea.

Part the Fourth: So who's better, them or us?

I think it's us but that doesn't mean we win the championship. Chelsea destroys teams who don't match up talent-wise and we have a pretty well established history of taking the odd game off against a lesser opponent. One of those trends has to change for us to catch Chelsea. Personally, I'm optimistic that ‘typical City' gets put to rest forever this season, health permitting. We're certainly in better shape than, say, the other Manchester team who spent a quarter of a billion dollars on players not one of whom is a badly needed box-to-box mid or a defender. Yes we lost to Stoke at home but it wasn't a belly flop. We haven't had one of those yet. That we're the best team in Manchester is beyond dispute. That we're the best in the league remains to be seen.

Part the Fifth: Poll!

You know what to do.