Skip to content

Offshore drilling, England: at Chelsea 0, Manchester City 0

Nov 25, 2012, 1:14 PM EST

Chelsea's manager Rafa Benitez reacts to his team's performance against Manchester City during their English Premier League soccer match at Stamford Bridge stadium in London Reuters

Changes will have to come later for Chelsea, who saw the debut of their new manager fail to yield any correction of course. With no significant changes to personnel, formation, or style, Chelsea saw no significant changes to their results, drawn at home on Sunday by Manchester City, 0-0.

Both teams will be content with the result, though each have reason to think they should have gotten more. Manchester City controlled much of a match in which, against a struggling opponent, they could have pushed harder for a winning goal. Instead, they seemed content to adopt a more level posture, an approach that has cost them first in the Premier League.

Chelsea can assuage themselves with having held the defending champions at arm’s length, though there was a time not so long ago when any points dropped at Stamford Bridge would have been seen as a failure. Given the talent in this squad, there’s no reason that attitude should change. Instead, Chelsea’s fall swoon continues, with new manager Rafa Benítez’s Chelsea tenure beginning on a mixed note.

Man of the Match: As in most Manchester City matches, Yaya Touré was the game’s best player, though on a day when there were few good chances on goal, neither side saw enough offensive excellent or defensive failures to provide much distinction between players. Touré, however, was his typically dependable self in defense while providing the orchestrating presence high in attack that helped City maintain a majority of possession.

Threesome of knowledge: What we learned

Neither team wanted it more – Years ago, when former Giants, Cowboys, and Jets head coach Bill Parcells had a seat on ESPN’s Sunday NFL pregame show, he was asked to pick a winner in one of the day’s games. Almost dismissively, he offered “usually the team that wants it more wins the game.” Particularly in these middle-of-the-seasons, low stakes affairs, it’s the team that can muster some will that takes a result.

On Sunday, neither Chelsea nor Manchester City wanted more than they got, and it showed. Chelsea’s only good chance came in the 61st minute when Fernando Torres skied a shot over the bar from 12 yards. City’s best opportunity was a first half counterattack started and finished by Pablo Zabaleta, who drilled a 14-yard shot right at Joe Hart.

Manchester City was happy with a road point, while Chelsea seemed content to draw during this transition phase. Add that to the predilections of the two managers involved, and we should have known to bet heavily on 0-0 the moment Benítez was appointed.

Too soon for changes at Chelsea – Benítez only had three days to prepare – a little more than a day since he was formally announced on Friday – so it shouldn’t be too surprising that Sunday’s team looked identical to one Roberto Di Matteo would have selected. It’s going to take a little more time on the training ground for Benítez to develop any firm personnel preferences. The formation (4-2-3-1) is likely to stay the same, regardless.

If there’s anything to infer from Benítez’s choices, it’s that Gary Cahill might lose some time (Cesar Azpilicueta’s start pushing Branislav Ivanovic into central defense) and Fernando Torres will keep getting chances to justify his purchase (the Spaniard back into the starting XI after missing out mid-week). But Di Matteo could have just as easily made those selections. Chelsea’s defense has a been rotating all season, and Torres was always likely to come back for today’s match.

So much skill, so little danger – The teams combined for six shots on target (five from Manchester City), though that number slightly exaggerates the drama. Though the match had a nice flow over the last 30 minutes (Chelsea counterattacks becoming the game’s only threat), Petr Cech and Joe Hart were left with little to do. City, pushing Chelsea’s defense back into their comfortable, deep posture, was left to make the best of half-chances, while Chelsea’s counterattacks always lost steam as they approached City’s penalty area (frequently, at the point Fernando Torres became involved).

Packaged for takeaway

  • For the second match in a row, David Luiz had a strong, mistake-free day, though he almost opened himself up for criticism in the 92nd minute when he put a shoulder into a charging Mario Balotelli, taking him down 19 yards from goal. Somewhat inexplicably, referee Chris Foy produced a yellow card for Balotelli, presumably saying the clear contact was exaggerated by the City attacker.
  • At the other end, Vincent Kompany was man of the match-caliber (he earned Gary Neville’s honors) three days after leaving the Etihad on crutches after City’s draw with Real Madrid.
  • James Milner got the start on the left instead of Samir Nasri, who dressed but never appeared. Predictably, Milner gave a steady performance that failed to alter the game. Whereas Nasri might have won the game for Roberto Mancini, at least Milner didn’t lose it.
  • Edin Dzeko got a rare league start, a reward for his recent substitute’s heroics. Unfortunately for the Bosnian attacker, he did little to suggest he should get more of Carlos Tévez’s playing time.
  • Chelsea’s only official shot on goal was a 30-plus-yard direct kick from David Luiz that had no chance of beating Joe Hart.
  • The result gives Manchester United first place in the Premier League. City sits second with West Brom allowed to stay third place ahead of Chelsea.
Latest Posts
  1. Done Deal: Real Madrid sign Argentina U-20 goalkeeper, Juan Cuadrado finalizes Chelsea move

    Jan 30, 2015, 11:57 PM EST

    Colombia v Uruguay: Round of 16 - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Getty Images

    Transfer deals that have been confirmed over the past day or so.

  2. Pep Guardiola on Bayern’s stunning loss to Wolfsburg: ‘They were better at the right moments’

    Jan 30, 2015, 10:59 PM EST

    Germany Soccer Champions League AP

    Bayern Munich head man Pep Guardiola sees where his squad went wrong in its 4-1 defeat against Bundesliga opponent VfL Wolfsburg.

  3. Premier League Preview: Manchester United vs. Leceister City

    Jan 30, 2015, 9:08 PM EST

    Leicester City v Manchester United - Premier League Getty Images

    Preview of a previously eye-catching match, Manchester City v. Leicester City, tomorrow morning on NBCSN.

  4. Burnley adamant that striker Danny Ings isn’t headed to Liverpool

    Jan 30, 2015, 7:00 PM EST

    danny_ings

    Danny Ings looks poised to stay at Burnley due to a certain transfer rule that would block his departure to Liverpool.

  5. US international Joe Gyau has second surgery, could be out for rest of year

    Jan 30, 2015, 6:05 PM EST

    2012 CONCACAF Men's Olympic Qualifying - Day 3 Getty Images

    United States and Borussia Dortmund II’s Joe Gyau underwent another surgery on his torn meniscus, and he could be done for the season.

  6. With Cristiano Ronaldo suspended, Gareth Bale takes center stage against Real Sociedad

    Jan 30, 2015, 5:20 PM EST

    Real Madrid's Ronaldo celebrates a goal with team mate Bale against Galatasaray during their Champions League soccer match in Istanbul Reuters

    Real Madrid midfielder Gareth Bale will replace Cristiano Ronaldo as the current world’s best player will serve a two-match ban coming from last week’s tilt vs. Cordoba.

  7. Premier League Preview: Hull City vs. Newcastle United

    Jan 30, 2015, 4:35 PM EST

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    Preview of Hull City vs. Newcastle on NBCSN this Saturday morning.

  8. Juan Agudelo’s return an excellent occurrence for New England Revolution

    Jan 30, 2015, 3:45 PM EST

    Juan-Agudelo-New-England-Revolution-Getty-Images Getty Images

    Juan Agudelo is back with Major League Soccer’s New England Revolution, and amidst a few possible issues, there is no reason his addition cannot help guide Jay Heaps’ side to victorious ways in the East.

  9. Premier League transfer needs: What’s been done and what’s left to do by Monday?

    Jan 30, 2015, 3:07 PM EST

    ACF Fiorentina v SSC Napoli - Serie A Getty Images

    Let’s take a gander at how things may’ve changed since JPW checked the needs earlier this month.

  10. WATCH: Premier League TV schedule – Week 23

    Jan 30, 2015, 2:00 PM EST

    PremierLeagueNBC

    Where and how to watch every PL game during Week 23, here.

  11. Saturday’s Chelsea-Manchester City match expected to break viewing records

    Jan 30, 2015, 1:48 PM EST

    Chelsea and Man City will square off early in the season. AP

    If my math’s right, and it probably isn’t, close to 10 percent of the world’s population will watch Manchester City visit Chelsea on Saturday.

  12. Asian Cup final preview: Can Australian hosts deny South Korea’s first title since 1960?

    Jan 30, 2015, 1:06 PM EST

    FBL-ASIA2015-AUS-KOR Getty Images

    The Socceroos have received a single goal from nine other players in a bid to become the first hosts to win the Asian Cup since Japan in 1992.

  13. Geoff Cameron predicts Super Bowl XLIX win for his New England Patriots

    Jan 30, 2015, 12:52 PM EST

    USA Training & Press Conference - 2014 FIFA World Cup Getty Images

    Cameron talks about his love for the Pats, growing up in Boston and more in his latest dispatch from England.

  14. VIDEO: PST Extra – Costa’s suspension, and how will Frank Lampard be received at Stamford Bridge?

    Jan 30, 2015, 12:22 PM EST

    Lampard Getty Images

    PST’s Joe Prince-Wright and Mike Prindiville sit down to talk Lampard vs. Chelsea in this week’s PST Extra, with a little Diego Costa suspension talk as well.

  15. Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks: Manchester City, Arsenal, Saints to win

    Jan 30, 2015, 12:02 PM EST

    Pablo Zabaleta Pablo Zabaleta

    PST’s Lead Writer and Editor predicts the winners and losers in Week 23.

  16. Premier League Preview: Chelsea vs. Manchester City

    Jan 30, 2015, 11:40 AM EST

    Chelsea v Manchester City - Premier League Getty Images

    There are big ones, and there are bigger ones… and this one’s a doozy.

  17. Manchester United signs youngster from Scholes-, Giggs-owned semipro side

    Jan 30, 2015, 10:54 AM EST

    www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/ www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/

    There’s quite a bit of saccharine in this perfect PR story, but it’s a cool tale nonetheless.

  18. San Francisco 49ers brass announced as investors in Sacramento Republic

    Jan 30, 2015, 10:19 AM EST

    sacbee.com sacbee.com

    “We have more 49ers season ticket holders in Sacramento than we do in San Francisco,” the 49ers CEO said

Featured video

Chelsea v Man City: Lampard the hero?