There was something in the air last night at Stamford Bridge that seemed to blow a wind of change in the team, fans and club. The blustery, wet gale that poured on and battered the fans did not seem to dampen spirits in the stands even after Chelsea conceded an early goal against the team that is trying to emulate our success in the early days of the Abramovich era.
I have always had some kind of sympathy for City (not that I like any club other than Chelsea) - a team that has had decent home attendances even when dropping divisions; one that plays in blue and up until a decade or so ago had plenty of similarities with our club. One thing they will never be able to emulate is our strong, loyal away following - quite embarrassing to see their fans take less than half of their allocation considering these are supposed to be potentially their greatest times in recent history.
It was an intriguing spectacle. For the first thirty minutes of the match Manchester City were dominant and should have put the game beyond Chelsea. Some of the passing and movement from the visitors was sublime and they played with such utter confidence that my prior good feelings about the game were beginning to fade. Even the luck seemed to favour them: every deflection seemed to go off for a City throw or corner and every clearance seemed to fortuitously land at the feet of their players. I always say that a good team makes its own luck and it seemed to initially favour the visitors – in the end it was Chelsea who rode their luck and the quality of the home side eventually shone through. I was also hoping they would fail in their bid to win at the Bridge following Balotelli’s absurd celebration in front of the Matthew Harding Lower – ill-advised at best and he probably has the aroma of coffee surrounding him today.
The turning point of the game was the penalty kick not awarded to Silva in the first half. Considering Clattenburg was in charge it was a tad surprising… but by the same token if it was not to be then the Manchester City player should have been awarded a yellow card instead. The Londoners weathered the storm and began to take hold of the game especially after scoring against the run of play following tremendous work by the ever-improving Sturridge. The Meireles’ finish from his cross was quite superb considering he had been fairly anonymous up until that point.
Chelsea cleverly exploited the weakness on the right wing with Clichy looking out of his depth. After his sending off Chelsea still found it hard to break down Manchester City. The fans really got behind the team and it was fitting that Lampard scored the winner from the spot – although I am perturbed by some of his post match comments. He has not been firing on all cylinders at all this season and should not be surprised that he sits on the bench for many games.
It was an emotionally charged atmosphere and one that I have not seen or felt for quite a while. When Lampard scored I felt such a release of emotion and relief following what has been a very tepid season so far. AVB seems to finally understand what it takes to win in the league and also seems to be less naïve when it comes to taking needless risks. Special mention must go to Terry, Ramires, Mata and Sturridge.
We have tough games coming up but the last few performances in the major competitions do seem to demonstrate that the team possesses quality and the players are beginning to gel. Well done to the Chelsea fans for getting behind the team – the atmosphere was electric and it was the first time for a long time after a game that I struggled to sleep because of the euphoria from the match.