Newsletter #1938

Not quite the few days we hoped it would be, was it?

Few complaints about the Chelsea result I’d say though we could so easily have snatched a point late on but our goal scoring touch deserted us for once, as it did against Norwich yesterday.

The troubling thing, as expressed in a couple of articles, was the unwillingness to change tactics when things were not going well. Very similar to the Bayern game at home. Let’s hope a Plan B emerges over the next few weeks as you feel we may need it on occasion.

On a more positive front I’m delighted to say we have a match report from Phil B. Absolutely great to have you back Phil and hope the road to recovery is going smoothly.

Various ticket request and offers included as well.

Next Game: 12 February, Sunderland, Etihad Stadium, 19:45 GMT


City slipped to a first home league defeat of the season in this much-anticipated game and can have no complaints about the result. Chelsea were stronger and better in most departments and fully merited the win.

City started the quicker and Yaya was millimetres away from getting a touch to Kolarov’s superb, driven low cross. City could and should have scored early on when Yaya used a combination of pace, power and trickery to reach the by-line but Silva’s right-footed out-swinging shot curled wide of the left hand post.

Yaya then curled a dipping twenty yard drive just over the bar after Navas smartly squared to him. City bossed those first 20 minutes but Chelsea were always a danger on the counter with Hazard and Willian tricky and elusive runners. Ramirez should have scored when put through, one on with Hart in the 28th minute, but the City ‘keeper did very well to preserve parity with the City defence badly exposed. At times it seemed like Vincent Kompany alone was keeping the visitors at bay, particularly our wide open left side, but he could only do so much. Just after the half hour he threw himself in front of Eto’o’s angled goal-bound shot, but the rebound fell to Ivanovic who was given room to cut in and hit a fizzing, unstoppable low left foot shot through a forest of defenders, across Hart and into the right corner of his net. It had been coming…

The more the first half progressed, the more the visitors stretched the City defence as they moved the ball quickly. When Chelsea didn’t have possession they pressed and harried us into surrendering possession. Demichelis, in particular, playing in midfield instead of the injured Fernandinho, gave the ball away cheaply far too often. When he did find a City team mate, he tended to play a pass then not move to offer a progressive option. His lack of mobility made it much easier for Chelsea to close him down. These were all significant factors in City’s football lacking its usual fluidity. Oh for a Fernandinho! Oh for a Nasri or a Milner!

The malaise spread and visitors smelled blood. City were rocking, and very much on the ropes as Chelsea advanced. Hazard forced another smart save from Hart in the 36th minute after Pablo Zabaleta uncharacteristically gave the ball away. Then Eto’o struck the bar from another Hazard cross. With Demichelis panicking in the centre of midfield and Nastasic looking even less assured in defence, and City as a whole well below par, the half time whistle couldn’t come soon enough.

To all round surprise there were no changes of personnel at the break, and for a while City continued in the same vein. Even Silva surrendered possession in a dangerous area and he must have been grateful to Joe Hart for his subsequent save. The Etihad sighed with relief after Matic hit the bar with a powerful drive in the 53rd minute. Something had to be done, and with Negredo clearly not match fit, and not in the game at all, Pellegrini sent on Jovetic in his place. The young Montenegrin injected some running power and asked questions of the Chelsea defence when running from midfield, even if he didn’t always choose the right option.

Meanwhile, Milner and Rodwell ran up and down the touchline, warming up, repeatedly… Kolarov fired a free kick just over, whilst at the other end, we had an escape when Cahill hit a post after a corner in the 67th minute.

With City showing more determination in general, we dominated possession for the last half hour of the game but struggled to break down a perennially stubborn Chelsea defence. Terry and Cahill gobbled up most of the crosses and uncharacteristic long balls that we tried from time to time.

Nevertheless, on the occasions when we did stretch the Chelsea defence, we didn’t capitalise. No one got on the end of Zabaleta’s cross in the 68th minute. Oh for a Sergio!

Silva forced Cech to tip over his free kick in the 73rd minute, then three minutes later, after good work from Jovetic, Dzeko and a fine Kolarov cross, he fired wide our one gilt edged chance of the second half. Silva, agonised, held his head. We held our heads too. It just wasn’t our night.

Surely it was worth trying something different late on? James Milner has a habit of putting in a good ball, especially late on in a game, but he and Rodwell continued to run up and down the touch line, warming up, repeatedly…

Chelsea dealt with corners and any high crosses assuredly as we pressed for an equaliser. Jovetic forced Cech to tip his fine curling drive over in the 2nd minute of stoppage time. Then in the very last minute an unmarked Nastasic mis-kicked a good chance tamely behind after a corner was cleared to him. It summed up a dreadful night for him.

Chelsea deserved this win. They out-muscled and outran us in several areas of the pitch, particularly midfield, where we were outnumbered in the first half (Matic and Luiz sat behind Ramirez for the visitors started off against Yaya Touré and Demichelis), and they grabbed a lead that they didn’t look like surrendering. But this wasn’t a case of Chelsea parking a proverbial bus, as they looked to attack whenever possible: Ramirez should have scored in the first half before Chelsea took the lead; Hazard forced another good save from Hart early in the second; and Chelsea hit the woodwork three times. Our dominance of possession often ran into the brick wall of the visitors’ teak tough defence with a tightly packed central midfield in front of it. When we did have chances to score, we didn’t take them, Silva twice spurning excellent opportunities and Dzeko didn’t have his shooting boots on all night.

City really missed Agüero’s all round game, particularly his pace, anticipation and finishing. Negredo clearly was not match fit. Fernandinho’s passing, running power and tackling ability were badly missed amongst his other qualities and this helped Chelsea get a grip of the game in the first half.

Manuel Pellegrini has generally shown good judgement in tactics and selection, and his attacking philosophy is highly commendable, producing the best football we have seen at City in a lifetime, and possibly ever. However, he had a bad day against Chelsea. Negredo was not fit and Jovetic would have been a better option, especially with Chelsea flooding midfield. Coming from deeper, he could have bolstered midfield from the left, allowing Silva to play inside from the start, making it an even contest, numerically at least, in the middle. Playing an expansive 4-4-2 has brought many spectacular, richly enjoyable wins this season, but on nights like this one, against top opponents (who we knew would flood midfield), sometimes adjustments have to be made. The poser for Pellegrini is do we need to have more muscle and athleticism in midfield in future games like this in order to allow our flair players to play?

Whilst it is true that Pellegrini’s options in midfield were severely compromised by Fernandinho’s thigh muscle injury (which the City manager believes will possibly keep him out for 3 or 4 weeks), even a half fit Milner or even Rodwell would have provided far more mobility and better passing than Demichelis. Milner played very well for Villa in central midfield before coming here and does a good job wherever he plays for us, and it is a source of some mystery as to why he is often overlooked for the central berth when there is a vacancy. Whilst he is not as skilful as Silva or Nasri – few players are – his talent is underrated. At the back, Lescott would have been a better bet than Nastasic who seems to have lost his way. Lescott did after all win a title alongside Vincent Kompany, who carried the defence in this game. Clichy, with his speed and sound defensive qualities, would also have been a better choice than Kolarov to deal with Chelsea’s swift counter attacks. That said, had any of Kolarov’s two piercing balls been converted we may had a very different result.

Nothing was decided on this occasion other than the destination of three points. Chelsea drew level on points with us, albeit with a vastly inferior goal difference, two points behind Arsenal. There are still fourteen games to go and it can only be hoped that we find our best form again quickly at Norwich on Saturday, because this title race is very much on.

Goal: Ivanovic (31)

Att: 47,364

Hart: Kept City in the game at various points of the evening. He was beaten by an unstoppable shot: 7
Zabaleta: Had a hard time against Hazard who was the best performer on the night, but stuck to his task well to get some important blocks in. Distribution not quite up to his usual high standard: 6
Kompany: The captain strove manfully to stem the visitors’ tide but needed better support. One of the few who can take any real credit: 7
Nastasic: What has happened to the young man who played well beyond his tender years last season? Bamboozled by Chelsea attackers, his distribution was poor too. Some referees might have sent him off but his “professional foul” late on was actually just inside the Chelsea half! Needs his confidence rebuilding with some careful man management and expert coaching: 3
Kolarov: Delivered some good crosses but a full back’s first job is to defend and he is chronically deficient in this respect: 5
Navas: Stretched the excellent Azpilicueta with his pace a few times but his delivery was poor including one right wing corner that went straight behind (why wasn’t Silva or Kolarov taking it?): 5
DiMichelis: Might get away with playing in midfield against beaten teams as we close out a game but for all his effort here, he failed to provide the required mobility, passing ability or defensive shield here: 4
Yaya: City’s chief creator on the night used his muscle to good effect but lacked support in the midfield engine room: 6
Silva: As ever, one of City’s best creators, and it was also very pleasing to see him doing what he often does, stealing the ball in midfield, especially once he’d moved inside. He should, though, have scored a couple of goals, which may have changed the result completely: 6
Negredo: Clearly not match fit and was unable to affect this game: 4
Dzeko: He worked hard to link play and win some aerial balls but his passes were again too often under hit and his finishing was below par: 5
Jovetic (for Negredo 57): Added thrust and another dimension to City’s midfield, even if decision making wasn’t always the best, and he was unfortunate to find Cech in splendid form: 6

Refwatch: Mike Dean: Got several decisions wrong but didn’t affect this contest adversely: 6

Best Oppo: Eden Hazard: The one that got away… in more ways than one. A tricky, intelligent opponent who gave a top class full back a hard time and a lot of problems to deal with. Used the ball very well indeed. Clearly the outstanding player on the night: 9

Phil Banerjee <phil.banerjee(at)>


I have been uneasy about City’s all out attacking style for several months. It is, in my opinion, a valid approach to games when we have all our top talent available or if the opposition isn’t top notch. Last night Chelsea took full advantage of our team set up with major players unavailable and with a makeshift midfield. Chelsea defended in depth and counter-attacked to great purpose. Too often our two excellent full backs were exposed up field and several times we were outnumbered by Chelsea’s fast break.

Do we really need Zabaleta, Kolarov and Navas all playing in advanced wide positions? I would rather see us playing 3 at the back with two wide playing wing backs. I think Demichelis was exposed last evening by his lack of pace in the holding midfield role. I would have preferred to see Rodwell in that position. I was impressed with Jovetic and hope he gets more playing time (possible at the expense of Dzeko).

I’ve no doubt City will rebound quickly from this bad result. But we shouldn’t gloss over the thought that we were very lucky the result wasn’t 4-0 (Chelsea hit the woodwork 3 times).

Come on you Blues.

Mike Edwards <cityfan3219(at)>


Just found the lyrics to a 50’s City song which I believe are not quite right. As I remember it the song went:

City are the team
They’re the best team in the land
Home games and away games
We’re always in command (now and again)
We may lose a point or two
But we never do despair
Because you can’t beat the boys in the old sky blue
When they come from Manchester

Alan Johnson, Stockport <ALJANJOHN(at)>


I have two seats at Wembley for City vs. Sunderland that I can’t use, so I can sell.

Contact me directly by email if interested.

Pat Knowles <pjamk(at)>


Is anyone is in Oslo, Norway for the Barcelona game and wants to meet in a bar in Oslo?

Mark Deary <mark_deary(at)>


As a Blue based in Houston, TX for the past six years (but still have season ticket at Etihad), I’d like to add the Richmond Arms (in Houston) to the Stateside directory for watching games.

In truth, there aren’t many Blues in Houston, but there’s a growing Latino following who seem to be getting into our Argentinian – Chilean – Spanish lead formula for success. Many of them go to the Richmond to watch the games.

I’m writing this in London the day before the Chelsea game. Just wondering where’s a good venue in the Smoke to enjoy the game and avoid mither?

Will find out tomorrow!

Gary Chapman <garychapman7(at)>


Well, everything was organised:

  • Hotel just off the Rambla, booked and paid for – check
  • Flights via Monarch (out Sunday back Thursday) booked and paid – check
  • When ticket availability reaches 8000+ points, purchase two tickets… Errrrrrrr

Don’t believe it, sold out at 9000! After nigh on fifty years of downs and ups I was dreaming of Camp Nou.

I know it’s the longest of long shots but if anyone could help we’d be eternally grateful.

Dave Ball <David.fx.ball(at)>

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Newsletter #1938