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The Battle of the Bridge Revisited

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Sunday will see Manchester City face off against Chelsea in the FA Cup, and what a difference the two clubs seasons have been. A stark contrast from expectations at the beginning of the season, certainly from a Chelsea fans perspective, but from the Manchester City one also. Who would have thought that City would head into the final stretch of the season still in all competitions and, most likely, looking at Sundays FA Cup tie as the one to be the sacrificial lamb.

For Chelsea, on the other hand, this is their competition for the year. Yes, they did only lose 2-1 away in Paris by a single goal but realistically, a Champions League trophy isn't on the cards for them this season.

It would be almost six years ago from the date of Sunday's game when City went to Stamford Bridge and put the then Premiership leaders, Chelsea, to the sword in what would be the London clubs first home defeat of the season. Chelsea would, of course, still go on to win the title in their first season under Carlo Ancelotti while Manchester City would finish their last trophyless season back in fifth position.

Before the game kicked off there had already been a lot of off field distractions. British tabloids had carried stories involving the now Manchester City player Wayne Bridge, and an affair his former club and country team mate, John Terry, had with Bridges girlfriend, Vanessa Perroncel. An injunction initially imposed by a high court judge that January had been overturned and now all the dirty laundry was on display just in time for the pair to meet. As the players exchanged handshakes at the beginning of the game eyes waited in anticipation to see what would happen between the two. In the end it was merely a refusal of Bridge to shake Terry's hand.

The game itself, barring the scoreline, could easily be forgotten as it was low on excitement and the quality of passing left a lot to be desired as the ex bosses of Milans Inter and AC, fought for the first time on English turf. It was actually Bridge and Terry's England team mate, and soon to be New York City FC player via Manchester City, Frank Lampard who opened the scoring for the hosts before Carlos Tevez pulled the game level right before half time.

In the second half Craig Bellamy put City ahead before substitute Julliano Belletti, who had only been on the field for fifteen minutes, got sent off for tripping Gareth Barry. Tevez stepped up to convert the penalty and make it 3-1 before Bellamy scored again to make it 4-1 minutes from time. Michael Ballack was also sent off for Chelsea before Super Frankie Lampard scored a consolation goal from the spot.

For City it was a sign that under Roberto Mancini we were certainly on the right track and, although wouldn't break into the top four, was a sign we could handle the big games and the first time City had done the double over Chelsea since 1957.

Pablo Zabaletta and Vincent Kompany are the only two survivors from that City side that day while Branislav Ivanovic, John Obi Mikel and, of course, John Terry, remain in the Chelsea squad. The latter of those looks to not be enjoying his final season with the Blues. Days after the game in 2010 Wayne Bridge announced his retirement from the International game, a win for City on Sunday could see John Terry's final season with Chelsea end with a fantastic whimper.