Writer: The Tuckster
Date:Monday October 7 2013
My boss, Nigel is a Chelsea fan. He supports a team that have a billionaire owner and he is used (in recent years) to success. He doesn`t think that Norwich are in the same bracket and that games against us are mere formalities.
Chelsea won our game today but they were made to work very hard for it.
Chris Hughton fielded almost the same team that won so comfortably at Stoke last week, the only change being the return of Seb Bassong after injury for Ryan Bennett. Bennett was unlucky to miss out, but Bassong is widely accepted as being our best defender and it was good to see him back.
Chelsea fielded their usual array of very expensive players with Demba Ba being given the chance to play up top in place of Torres and with Eto`o starting on the bench.
City were behind within 4 minutes to a very good finish from Oscar after Ba had laid off Lampard`s long ball inside the box. Oscar hit the shot first time with the outside of his boot - top drawer.
At this point I wondered if it might be a long afternoon, but City slowly but surely pulled themselves together and got back into the game. In midfield, Tettey and Fer were a match for Ramires and Lampard, especially Fer.
I`m not exaggerating when I say that Fer would not look out of place in the Chelsea midfield. He is getting better and better with every game that he plays and I predict here and now that he will leave us for twenty odd million pounds in (hopefully) a few years time and move somewhere like Chelsea - I rate him that highly.
John Ruddy had to be on his guard a number of times in this first period as Demba Ba proved a thorn in the side of City`s defence. After being played in by Mata, Ba forced the City keeper into a low fingertip save to stop a certain goal. The same player also later tangled with Ruddy and managed a shot towards goal but Bassong was on hand to intercept.
City`s best chance of the first half came when Snodgrass and RvW linked up well on the right and RvW put in a great low cross that Howson was aiming for. His presence almost forced Luiz to put through his own goal but for a fine block by Cech as he put the ball over for a corner.
I felt reasonably confident at half time though, that we were holding our own now and despite Chelsea having the best of the first half was hopeful we could still get back into it.
Within a couple of minutes of the re-start we could`ve been two behind when Russell Martin fell asleep on the right and allowed a cross to come in. Ba`s cheeky flick just went wide - phew.
But City then started to turn the screw and get into it. The midfield trio of Fer, Tettey and Howson were excellent as they broke up play and pinged the ball around. Both Snodgrass and Pilkington were good going forwards and both were ably supported by their full backs.
On one foray forward, City were denied a penalty after Snodgrass played Pilkington in.
Pilks had Ramires for company and clearly reached the ball first before having his heels clipped by the Chelsea midfielder. It looked dodgy at the time as the ref waved play on but now I`ve seen a replay, it was a stone wall penalty and Alan Hansen agrees!
The breakthrough for City finally came as Martin Olsson surged forward on the left. His cross to the far post saw RvW leap above John Terry and head the ball into the path of Pilkington, who nodded the ball past Cech from4 yards out.
Carrow road erupted and the visitors fell silent as we all celebrated the goal. It was a beautiful moment in the October sunshine.
This was on 68 minutes and just five minutes later, with City still in the ascendancy, Hughton made a positive change. RvW was replaced by Hooper to a standing ovation, the Dutchman having possibly his best game in a City shirt this afternoon. He was clearly exhausted after putting in a big shift and providing the assist for Pilks.
With ten minutes to go, Nathan Redmond replaced Snodgrass as Chris Hughton went for it. He`s been criticised for some of his substitutions in recent times but I couldn`t fault what he did today, he wanted to win the game.
Redmond quickly came to life and tested Cech with a stinging drive after bamboozling Luiz with his quick feet and this brought more cheers from the City fans.
On the other wing, Pilkington played in the overlapping Olsson and suddenly he was in the box with a chance to shoot. However, he made an air shot with his right foot and fell over - it was a glorious chance to win the game and if only it had been Olsson playing in Pilks...
In the meantime, Jose was getting more and more animated as he became concerned at what he was seeing. He made three subs and brought on Eto`o, Hazard and Willian - probably the best part of £80m worth of talent.
With five minutes to go another run by Redmond saw him win a corner. Pilks corner wasn`t great and found it`s way to Oscar via Willian who then played in Hazard who had Tettey for company. Tettey stretched, didn`t get enough on it and Hazard shot straight at Ruddy. The ball seemed to go through him and trickled over the line. Conceding straight after your own corner - criminal!
It was harsh on City but not nearly as harsh as the third Chelsea goal just one minute later. Willian found himself in space on the right and curled a terrific left foot shot into the top corner - 1-3 game over.
City`s performance today was very, very good. They matched their opponents throughout the game and if we accept that the visitors had the best of the first half, it was the home side who had the best of the second.
In this match we created more chances and were more of a threat than in the last two home games against Chelsea combined. We have an attacking edge and it is clear to see that the new lads are starting to get it all together now.
RvW had his best game in a yellow shirt and Leroy Fer continues to dominate the midfield. His new partnership in the centre with Tettey has looked great in these last two games and I wonder how much game time that Bradley Johnson will get if they can keep it up?
We may have dropped into the bottom three on goal difference but with a performance like today`s to reflect on and assuming that can be regularly replicated and even improved on, I don`t see a very long stay in the bottom three. It is Arsenal next though...
Date:Monday October 7 2013
Becchio Is Also In Demand (Tuesday December 10 2013)
Fer In Demand (Tuesday December 10 2013)
Palace Discount Offered (Tuesday December 10 2013)
Spurs Date Change (Tuesday December 10 2013)
City To Face Fulham in FA Cup (Sunday December 8 2013)
Stats: West Brom v Norwich City (Sunday December 8 2013)
City's Raid On The Hawthorns (Sunday December 8 2013)
Savvy's Stats - West Brom (Saturday December 7 2013)
The West Brom Preview (Saturday December 7 2013)
The View From The Hawthorns Q&A (Saturday December 7 2013)
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