Date: 13th September 2008 at 7:24pm
Written by:

The clash of the cash as Mark Hughes named it, took place this evening as Chelsea (formerly known as the richest club in the Premier League) took on Manchester City (now known as the richest club in the Premier League). In the end it was he old kids on the block who comfortably took the honours.

Team News – With Michael Essien out injured, Scolari was forced to shuffle his pack. Mikel returned after injury to anchor the midfield whilst Malouda was picked to play out wide and hopefully shuffle back to thwart any City attacks. Belletti, after scoring against Spurs in our last Premier League game, was perhaps a little unlucky to be left out. However, Chelsea fans will have been cheered to see Didier Drogba making a return from injury, albeit on the bench. Michael Ballack, who had trained hard in the latter half of the week, wasn`t risked probably with the Champions League fixture against Bordeaux fast looming.

For Manchester City, Mark Hughes selected his Brazilian duo of Robinho and Jo up front whilst Shaun Wright-Phillips would have been looking forward to playing against the team he only left a couple of weeks ago.

First Half – An expectant, and full to capacity Eastlands greeted the shrill blast of Mark Halsey`s whistle with an enormous roar as City started a new era in their history. Unfortunately, Chelsea seemed a little fazed by it and started poorly.

You just knew it was going to happen didn`t you? The buzz that whirled around the stadium every time Robinho got the ball gave you that uneasy feeling that when he stood preparing to take a free kick after a Carvalho foul, that it was going to, somehow, go in. The fact that it took a glance of Mikel to shoot past Cech won`t detract from the fact that he`d scored. Damn a goal down after 11 minutes.!

Thankfully, we were only behind for a couple of minutes. A corner was won and when it was initially cleared Carvalho produced a great volley to put us on level terms. It was almost as if the Robinho goal had woke us up after a lacklustre start.

Chelsea, pushing forward with Bosingwa playing a prominent part, saw Anelka not quite able to capitalise on two chances created. Down at the other end Stephen Ireland shot wide after a good flick on as the game continued to be entertaining.

As the game switched from end to end Malouda rattled the bar when it was easier to score as Chelsea started to string together a few good passing moves. Our movement seemed to be causing City problems they couldn`t cope with.

However, City were still looking dangerous and only a deflection stopped Jo opening his City scoring account. Thankfully, Wright-Phillip`s corner was reminiscent of those we`re used to seeing him deliver at Chelsea. With half time approaching Malouda wasted a chance to head home a decent cross and you began to wonder if we`d be later ruing these missed chances. There was even time for Anelka to waste yet another opportunity and also for Ashley Cole to hit a screamer just over the bar as Scolari must have wondered how, at half time, it was still level.

But Deco and Robinho swapping shirts as they walked off, what is that all about?

Second Half – No substitutions were made by Scolari or Hughes at half time. Robinho showed how flashiness doesn`t always work with a series of step-overs that resulted in a poor pass being delivered.

The first chance of the second half came to Chelsea but sadly Lampard couldn`t take the opportunity after neat work from Joe Cole. However, we didn`t have to wait long for the first goal of the half (52 minutes) and it was Chelsea that scored it with a great break that saw the ball moved from box-to-box, in a five man movement, in a matter of seconds for Lampard to slip a cross shot past Hart and into the net.

City responded with Ireland forcing a corner of Ashley Cole but it came to nothing. Strangely, the raucous noise of the early moments had been replaced by silence from the City supporters. Anelka had a penalty claim turned down before minutes later Anelka flicked a header a yard wide.

City tried to get back on level terms but Zabaleta could only loft an effort over the bar when in a good position. Carvalho then produced a great challenge to deny Ireland before the same player volleyed the resulting corner high over the bar.

Chelsea tried to force a third but Lampard, after being set up by Anelka, fired straight at Hart in the City goal. With Belletti and Drogba waiting to come on Joe Cole found Anelka with a lovely weighted pass for Anelka to score. With a two goal lead Drogba replaced Malouda and Belletti replaced Joe Cole.

Barring a disaster the game was now all but won. Sadly, there was still time for John Terry to receive a straight red card for a cynical tackle on Jo but Carvalho was covering – poor decision. The red card looked to slightly unsettle us and Scolari reacted by replacing Anelka with Alex. Chelsea had ten minutes, plus stoppage time, to last out.

In the end they coped quite comfortably inviting City to come at them and soaking up the pressure whilst looking for a quick counter attack. Once again the only noise you could hear was from the travelling support. A splendid result at a place where many teams will come unstuck!

Chelsea – Cech, Bosingwa, Terry, Carvalho, A.Cole, Mikel, J.Cole (Belletti-70), Deco, Lampard, Malouda (Drogba-70), Anelka (Alex-79)

Unused Subs – Hilario, Ivanovic, Bridge, Kalou,

Chelsea Scorers – Carvalho, Lampard, Anelka

Chelsea Yellow Cards – Mikel

Chelsea Red Cards – Terry