A hard defeat to swallow this one. From 1-0 up with 30 minutes to play - albeit somewhat fortuitously - to 2-1 down at full time. Yeah, we weren't good tonight but that doesn't change the overall shittiness of the way it all played out. I for one have yet to really come to grips with what just happened.
I need some Nic Cage.
In terms of sporting spectacle, this wasn't really it. The final 15 or so minutes brought with them some good enough entertainment, but the game by and large was a disappointment. We didn't really show up, largely thanks to a lack of cohesion in midfield. City, meanwhile, absolutely dominated possession only to look a shell of the team that has pelted opponents at home all season once in the attacking third. Still, they probably just about deserved the result on the basis of play.
City should have been ahead at halftime. Samir Nasri battered the crossbar early on before a lovely gift of a backpass from Frank Lampard to Mario Balotelli left most of us ducking our heads in expectation of the worse. Fortunately, Super Mario was not interested in actually playing football on this occasion. The Italian was subbed at halftime.
Branislav Ivanovic was subbed early in the first half for us, the Serbian picking up a muscle injury. Jose Bosingwa replaced him (fucking hell) and was, like a handful of outfield players on the day, grossly substandard. Bosingwa was partly to blame for City's winner on 85 minutes, failing to clear the ball at the first opportunity and promptly losing possession when he cut back inside. However, he wasn't responsible for the run that set Nasri off into the box. That was Lampard. Lampard initially did the proper thing in stepping to Nasri as the ball was received by Carlos Tevez on the edge of the penalty area, but then he failed to track the Frenchman's run into the box. Tevez dully found Nasri with a neat through ball and the former Arsenal man did the rest, chipping the ball over Cech for the decisive goal. A shitty end to a shitty day for the Chelsea legend.
That brings me to City's first goal, a penalty from Sergio Aguero stemming from a handball on Michael Essien. Was it a penalty? Probably. It was needless stuff from Essien, with his left arm outstretched despite the fact that Pablo Zabaleta's cross/shot was probably going well wide of the target. So, in summation, that's two goals bore out of two pieces of poor individual defending. Frustrating, but this stuff is fixable.
Overall, our defensive performance was excellent for me, at least in the center. That may have been the most resolute we've looked all season. Gary Cahill was solid and even chipped in with our goal - deflected as it was. David Luiz, meanwhile, was outstanding, imperious even. I'd like to know how many aerial duels he won on the day. Considering the amount of crosses he had to deal with and the sizable targets City employ, it was most impressive.
Other aimless rants:
• What is Raul Meireles up to these days? I want to know what he's doing to earn a regular spot in this side. The Portuguese is offering little on the pitch, today being no different. He was forcing all sorts of showboat shit, while providing no impact in the middle. Shun this guy to the pine, please.
• I liked what Fernando Torres brought to the fold today. Again, he was starved of service - thanks to our anonymous midfield axis of Meireles and Lampard - but still worked extremely hard to get involved. His opening couple of touches over the first 20 minutes were incisive, including an excellent run from the inside-left channel that resulted in our best offensive chance of the game. Unfortunately, Juan Mata wasted Torres' neat lay-off by skying his shot from the edge of the penalty area. There was a noticeable turn for the worst in our play after he was substituted, which was bizarre in itself.
• Speaking of Mata. He wasn't nearly as influential as expected, and as needed. It's clear we've become far too dependent on him.
• Let's have some perspective. I know everyone is angry with the result, but how many of us honestly thought we were going to come away from Manchester with even a point? Be honest with yourself. Me, I was clutching at straws hoping for a point going into the match. Check out some of the positives: 1. We played poorly yet nearly got all three points off a team that has won 20 consecutive games at home and could potentially win the Premier League; 2. Our defense looked about as good as it has all season; 3. Torres is working his ass off and the confidence is slowly creeping back into the psyche; 3. That was probably the most difficult game left on our schedule - and we nearly got something out of it. Not a bad list, eh?
On to smacking the hell out of Spurs at the Bridge then. Carefree, bitches.