When Frank Lampard announced his departure from Chelsea it seemed to be a final good-bye. His move to a new football franchise in America, New York City FC, confirmed this veteran midfielders next club, and with that a new league. However, links with Manchester City led to a short-term loan forming. Since that confirmation Chelsea fans have this hidden nightmare, that this player of legendary status and prestige would turn out in opposing colours to face them. Today that nightmare became a reality, even more nightmarish as he grabbed a equalising goal to end Chelsea’s 100% record.
Labelled by Pellegrini as a ‘must win’ game, Manchester City had to tread easily to avoid defeat and let Chelsea edge eight points clear, with a loss possibly having damaging effects on this title race- despite being in the early stages of the season.
The early stages of the game saw City the more lively and eager to grab the first goal and to put the advantage on their backs. As usual, Mourinho has a particular tactical acumen for his Chelsea side, with a parking space available to park the bus and frustrate this attacking City side who tried to weave gaps in this sturdy spine of Chelsea. Similarly, as Chelsea swept forward the physicality of Kompany was overwhelming for the likes of Diego Costa, who was belittled throughout the first half, resulting in hardly a sniff at goal. New boy Eliaquim Mangala looked every bit the concrete centre back who City splashed the cash on in the summer and he too was causing the attacking forces of Chelsea a lot of grief in their final third. There were a few shouts for penalties at Yaya Toure handled a Chelsea cross in the box, his face turned the other way which downplayed the penalty call. While Costa put his legs in the way of Edin Dzeko, causing him to take a tumble, the tumble on re-plays showing significant contact-a penalty it should of been.
Too teams that were very stable defensively led to a physical battleground, as yellow cards were distributed at will, some shown by Mike Dean perhaps a little harsh as the formation make-up of each team lit up physical crashes around the pitch. A belligerent mentality from Chelsea made it hindering for City who could not find the back of the net, however the game was not deficient of entertainment-just goals.
The second half kicked of as Chelsea kept this deep approach going, hoping to stun City in the counter attack. Still tackles took place on the pitch, the probability high in a player being shown a flash of red. This colour eventually shown to Pablo Zabaleta, who picked up a second yellow card. His challenge on Costa was substantial, maybe not a bookable offence, but the decision stood. City now had 10, a chance for Chelsea to capitalise.
Substitutes of Mikel for Willian and Shurrle in replacement of Ramires was Chelsea trying to bring fresh legs on to hopefully grab a goal. The substitution payed of. A blistering counter attack saw Costa pass the ball to the speedy figure of Eden Hazard who put a delicately delivered ball across to recent substitute Shurrle, who simply tucked it in to make it 1-0.
Knowing that a loss would have devastating damage on the early phase of the season, the introduction of Frank Lampard brought a bitter taste in the mouth of Chelsea fans, a sight they never thought would never occur. It wasn’t long before he was going to break their hearts, a cleverly executed ball from David Silva to James Milner saw his cross being struck cleanly by Lampard to cause this moment that would be considered a aberration from Chelsea fans, a goal. Holding his hands up in disbelief, or indeed in respect to Chelsea fans, Frank stood as his City team-mates consoled an emotional Lampard. Walking back to his own half, tears were welling up, clearly he had not envisioned this.
Lampard could of scored again as his shot was blocked by friend/former team mate, John Terry. City were looking to score another and claim all three points, however it was not meant to be, this was a game where both teams deserved the spoils.
The final whistle saw Lampard consoling his former team-mates, while Chelsea fans were in raptures as he applauded the fans who for so many years had played for. It was emotional for Lampard, describing how he was feeling as being ‘lost for words’. This was a game with was exiciting, and where both teams had the right to pocket a point. Despite this, the game will always be remembered for the return of the prodigal son, returning against his ‘home’ side, he may have sinned against his previous side, but his position in Chelsea hearts means he has repented of this one sin.
Both sides were strong today, particularly defensively. The performance was a great advertisement for the English league, with two of England’s powerhouse clubs battling it out. In terms of setting the standard in the league, this game shows the other teams what they have to do to challenge for the upper-reaches of the table. Other teams will struggle to combat these two teams with the attacking/defensive potential they both possess.