Chelsea vs. Manchester City  0 - 0

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Mancini rues dropped points

26 November 2012 19:25

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini believes his side should have taken all three points from Sunday's Premier League clash at Chelsea.

Having lost their place at the top of the table to rivals Manchester United on Saturday, the defending champions failed to return to the summit after playing out a disappointing 0-0 draw against the European champions, who were playing for the first time under interim boss Rafa Benitez.

"It's two points dropped," Mancini told Sky Sports. "It's difficult to play here. Last year we played very well in the first half and scored one goal, but then we lost.

"Here, we dominated the game but we were missing in the last 25 or 30 metres (of the pitch), we were poor. That's the problem.

"We dominated the first half. In the second half, maybe Chelsea did better. It is not easy to play against Chelsea like we did, but we need to be strong when we get to the edge of the box, not soft. We were too soft.

"When we are near the box we should be very strong. Today we played very well until the edge of the box, where we were poor."

Mancini chose to start with Edin Dzeko after the Bosnian scored five goals from the bench this season, but the striker - along with Sergio Aguero, and substitutes Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli - failed to fire.

"I hoped that (Dzeko) would play well from the start like he does when he is a substitute. Today, I think every player gave 100 per cent but sometimes it is not possible to play well."

The Italian was also keen to highlight the better parts of the performance by his side, who remain unbeaten in the Premier League so far this season.

"There are positives," Mancini continued. "We didn't lose, we played well after the Real Madrid game, our attitude was good.

"The only thing that was missing was the last pass for the striker. The strikers should be very strong around the box.

"I think that we played very well, but we were missing a goal. We had a lot of chances and got to their box but we were missing the last pass. But other than that, I think we played well."

Article

Premier League: Chelsea 0 Manchester City 0

25 November 2012 19:13

Rafa Benitez's bow as Chelsea boss ended in a 0-0 draw with Manchester City, as the ex-Liverpool manager copped the wrath of Blues fans.

Benitez faced genuine and sustained opposition from large sections of the home support as they made clear their anger at the former Reds manager succeeding the popular Roberto Di Matteo.

Moreover, the Spaniard was unable to provide instant alchemy to the team, as Chelsea mustered only a single shot on target in a match dominated by defence in the tepid stalemate.

In front of Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, perhaps Benitez's only achievement was that new-look centre-back pair David Luiz and Branislav Ivanovic had managed to keep the Premier League champions so quiet.

The draw leaves Chelsea five points adrift of leaders Manchester United, while City finish the weekend in second place after failing to make their domination of the play and scoring opportunities count.

However, it was the extraordinary reception received by Benitez that was the main talking point on an afternoon when the drama in the stands far exceeded that on the pitch.

It took the pitchside announcer passing on the news of former Chelsea manager Dave Sexton's death at the age of 82 to end the thunderous jeers and chants of 'There's only one Di Matteo' that had greeted Benitez's introduction as the new manager.

All the while, Abramovich - the author of the dugout dramas - sat watching impassively at the back of a stand.

Benitez immediately made his impact at the selection table, as Fernando Torres was restored to the starting line-up in place of Gary Cahill, who dropped to the bench. For Manchester City, Gareth Barry and James Milner replaced Samir Nasri and Maicon.

In the early exchanges, Chelsea's key attackers lacked accuracy with their passing and were easily smothered by the visitors.

Roberto Mancini, whose name was sung loudly by City's travelling support at regular intervals, would have been satisfied that his team looked far more organised than of late, while also counter-attacking with some purpose.

But the champions of England failed to make their dominance count against the champions of Europe in a flat opening period, with Sergio Aguero and David Silva wasting excellent headed opportunities to put their team ahead.

Both defences continued to be on top in the second half, with Chelsea not creating a genuine opportunity until 60 minutes had been played.

Torres, once the most feared marksman in Europe under Benitez at Liverpool, had the chance to resurrect one of the most profitable striker-manager alliances of recent times in emphatic fashion.

But, in keeping with his Chelsea career, the number nine fired a half-volley narrowly over the bar after the ball had sat up well for him inside the box following good interplay from Eden Hazard and Juan Mata.

In terms of entertainment, that was about it.

Article

Mancini waits on Kompany fitness

23 November 2012 14:16

Roberto Mancini is sweating on the fitness of captain Vincent Kompany ahead of Sunday's trip to Chelsea on Sunday.

The Belgium international was hurt in Manchester City's 1-1 Champions League draw with Real Madrid on Wednesday after a tussle with Cristiano Ronaldo during the latter stages of the game.

Kompany received treatment after the final whistle before leaving the Etihad Stadium on crutches.

He will be assessed on Saturday before a decision is made over whether he can play, but City manager Mancini is remaining optimistic that he will be able to lead the Premier League leaders out at Stamford Bridge in a crunch top of the table clash.

"I hope Vinnie can recover but we won’t know until tomorrow," the Italian told the club's official website.

"He is strong so there is a chance, but we will make a final decision on Saturday. Mario trained on Thursday so should be OK but Gael is still injured."

Left-back Gael Clichy will not travel to west London after failing to shake off an ankle injury, but there was better news for Mancini after striker Mario Balotelli returned to training after sitting out the past two games with a back injury.

Mancini, meanwhile, is wary of a Chelsea side with a new manager.

Owner Roman Abramovich replaced Roberto Di Matteo with Rafael Benitez at Stamfod Bridge in the early hours of Thursday.

Mancini does not think the switch will do City many favours.

"I think that usually when a team changes their manager the game after is very difficult for the opponent. I think that for us this game will be more difficult," he said.

"I think that Chelsea are one of the best teams in England and in Europe, they have won everything in the last 10 years.

"To play against Chelsea in London is always a good game. To win there could be very important for us. So if we want to win we should play a really good game."

Mancini wants his squad to maintain their strength.

"It's easy to be strong when we win every game, we should be strong also when we lose some games or when we can't play in the Champions League in February," he said.

"From this situation we can improve as a team and as a club because I don't think it's easy to win the Premier League and the Champions League the year after.

"It's clear we are disappointed because I think we have the players that deserve to play in the Champions League. But together we made some mistakes and for this reason we are out."

Article

Aguero confident of defending title

23 November 2012 14:02

Sergio Aguero believes Manchester City will recover from their Champions League disappointment and retain their Premier League crown.

City were eliminated from Europe's elite competition after their 1-1 draw at home to Real Madrid on Wednesday, and have so far failed to pick up a single win in the competition with only one game remaining.

However, the 24-year-old is determined to help his team-mates recover and is certain they are capable of winning the Premier League for a second successive season.

"I'm sure we will retain our title," Aguero told reporters.

"It's true that Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal and other teams have strengthened their squads intelligently compared with last season.

"But we are the champions and they want to take us on - so that's only to be expected.

"It won't be easy for them because we are growing as a team and we get to know each other better every time we play.

"It's true that we don't have the same flair in games that we had last season and we've scored fewer goals for sure.

"But the Premier League table says something different. It says we are very hard to beat, top of the table and defending well, so we can't be doing that badly can we?"

After an indifferent start to their defence of the title, the defending champions returned to form and to the top of the Premier League after a 5-0 win over Aston Villa last weekend.

And Aguero has blamed his side's inconsistent form at the start of the season on injuries, insisting that the best is yet to come.

"We have been hindered by a string of injuries to important players," he added.

"David Silva, (Pablo) Zabaleta, (Javi) Garcia, (Joleon) Lescott, (Micah) Richards, Maicon, (Gareth) Barry, (Samir) Nasri, (James) Milner, myself - it's not easy when they all happen simultaneously.

"Last season we had very few injuries. If we have been succeeding despite these difficulties, then it makes me believe that the best is still to come and we'll be able to repeat our form of last year.

"We are destined to win more trophies and barring any major setbacks, we will.

"When I first arrived at City after my first game against Swansea, I said I hoped this was the beginning of something very big.

"Our Premier League title showed it possibly was and that we had great things ahead. As I said, I firmly believe the best is yet to come."

Article

Benitez relishes Abramovich leadership

23 November 2012 13:43

Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez believes working under Roman Abramovich will be 'easy' after his difficulties at Liverpool.

The 52-year-old, whose six-year reign at the Merseyside club began back in 2004, won both the FA Cup and Champions League during his time with the Reds.

Despite his success, however, a breakdown in the relationship between the Spaniard and the club's owners led to his swift departure from Anfield in 2010. But that, claims Benitez, is not a problem he envisages at Chelsea.

"We have an owner, a technical director Michael Emenalo and a good (team of) staff. It's easy," he told reporters.

"I don't have two owners who don't talk to each other, which was a problem (at Liverpool)."

Abramovich, who has been notoriously impatient with managers at Stamford Bridge over the years, dismissed Roberto Di Matteo in the early hours of Wednesday morning just six months after the Italian had brought FA Cup and Champions League glory to the club.

Benitez admitted that he is fully aware that the only way to ensure his job is safe is to keep getting results.

"It is very simple. Winning games is a guarantee for everything," he said.

"If you do it in a row you can win trophies. I'm really happy to be here in the Premier League with a chance to win trophies. Perfect.

"I analysed the squad. Can they win trophies? Yes. How many trophies can they win? We have five opportunities. Okay. Carry on."

Benitez's first game in charge is against champions Manchester City at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

Article

Premier League preview: Chelsea v Manchester City

23 November 2012 07:09

Manchester City visit Chelsea on Sunday, as two giants in flux clash in English Premier League action.

Both clubs have had weeks they would rather forget, City bundled out of the Champions League before the knockout stages and Chelsea close to elimination after disappointing midweek results.

The fall-out was particularly savage in west London, with Roberto Di Matteo - just six months removed from guiding the club to their greatest ever triumph in lifting the Champions League - sacked in favour of former Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez after their 3-0 loss to Juventus.

Chelsea still have a chance to reach the knockout stages, if they beat Nordsjaelland at home on matchday six and Juve lose to Shakhtar Donetsk.

Nevertheless, the latest European defeat saw Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich dismiss Di Matteo, with a laboured 3-2 home win over Shakhtar their only victory from the past five matches in all competitions.

In the league, Chelsea's form has been particularly average, with 1-1 draws against Swansea and Liverpool followed by a 2-1 defeat at West Brom, leaving the early-season pace-setters in third spot, four points behind leaders City.

Further north in Manchester, Roberto Mancini's City side have at least been keeping up appearances domestically while their European dream slipped away.

City sit top of the Premier League standings, one point clear of arch-rivals Manchester United, after 12 games played.

They were held to a 1-1 draw by Real Madrid at Etihad Stadium on Wednesday, ending their hopes of making the last 16 of the Champions League.

They could still qualify for the Europa League by finishing third in the group, but one wonders what incentive Mancini has for wanting his squad tied up mid-week during what is sure to be a tight tussle at the top of the league table.

Both managers have fitness concerns ahead of the crunch match, with City captain Vincent Kompany reportedly leaving the stadium on crutches after the draw against Real Madrid.

He joins Gael Clichy (ankle), Micah Richards (knee) and Mario Balotelli (back) on the injury list at Eastlands.

For Chelsea, captain John Terry is still bothered by a knee injury, Frank Lampard is slowly returning to fitness after a calf problem while Daniel Sturridge also missed the Juventus match because of a hamstring injury.

Premier League table

# Team MP D P
1 38 +43 89
2 38 +32 78
3 38 +36 75
4 38 +35 73
5 38 +20 72
6 38 +15 63
7 38 +28 61
8 38 -4 49
9 38 -4 46
10 38 -8 46
11 38 -17 44
12 38 -10 43
13 38 -11 42
14 38 -11 41
15 38 -22 41
16 38 -23 41
17 38 -13 39
18 38 -26 36
19 38 -30 28
20 38 -30 25