So much has been made of this Manchester City side. Some say they’re the best in the league since our 2004/2005 class, and others say they’re only flourishing because they’ve been allowed to do so. As much as I believe in giving credit when due, I like to think that City might have been allowed far more freedom to play in the league.
If we look back at the one game they’ve lost all season, it was mostly because they were stifled, and allowed little chance to play. If more teams in the Premier League borrowed a leaf from Liverpool’s playbook, events might have turned out differently.
On Sunday, Chelsea, like a lot of teams before us fell a second time to Manchester City. It was a disaster of a game to be honest, and could have been worse if they had been luckier.
Fans of Chelsea will look at that fixture, and blame Antonio Conte for his tactics in that game. Like against Barcelona, we played without a recognised striker, and instead had Eden Hazard playing as false 9. It might have been a little more effective in the Barcelona game, but City are a different animal, with a different pass style, and probably should have been approached differently.
The absence of a recognised striker gave City more confidence, and allowed them play from their own half. If we had started Giroud or Morata, they would have brought some aerial threat at least, and that could have changed the dynamics of that fixture. The formation was not effective in any way, and it probably cost us the match.
The only positive to be taken from the match is we were more compact at the back than the game before, and nothing more. Conte will be looking over his shoulders now, knowing that he may have lost both the confidence and trust of both the fans and management of Chelsea.
This loss has done us a lot of damage, and probably takes away all hopes of a top 4 finish. If we manage to qualify regardless, it would have been because other teams ahead of us lost focus, not because we really worked for it.