Chelsea vs. Manchester City: 6 Talking Points

Sam TigheWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterNovember 25, 2012

Chelsea vs. Manchester City: 6 Talking Points

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    Chelsea recorded a 0-0 draw against an unbeaten Manchester City side on Sunday afternoon as Rafa Benitez's long-awaited return to the English Premier League disappointed.

    With a new boss, the Blues were placed firmly under the microscope and Benitez enjoyed a solid if unspectacular start.

    City, too, had some answers to give, as their group stage knockout from the UEFA Champions League casts fresh doubts over their ability to perform at the highest level.

Too Early to Judge

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    It remains too early to judge Rafa Benitez and his plans for Chelsea—although apparently that message didn't filter through to some inside Stamford Bridge.

    He changed absolutely nothing for the game against Manchester City on the back of only three days training with his new team and rightly so, as too much information in such a short space of time could have been the equivalent of pressing the self-destruct button.

    The formation, tendencies, playing style and attacking movement were exactly the same as we've come to expect.

Same Goes for Fernando Torres

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    Fernando Torres struggled in a similar fashion to when Roberto Di Matteo was in charge, despite most of the prematch focus being on his impending improvement.

    Rafa Benitez resisted the temptation to meddle with the norm in such a short space of time and that translated into another uninspiring performance from the Spaniard.

    His head dropped after just 20 minutes, but expect to see a different game from him in midweek.

So What's the Plan?

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    With absolutely nothing revealed by Rafa Benitez with regard to what his plans are for this team, the guesswork and speculation will continue for another three days.

    You can bet he will adjust something to allow Fernando Torres to find form, and at Liverpool he used a deep-lying playmaker to thread dangerous through-balls for him to run onto.

    While Oscar may be capable of doing this at a stretch, there's a distinct lack of a Xabi Alonso-esque player among the Blues' roster.

    Is there an alternative way to get Fernando firing that Roberto Di Matteo failed to find?

4-2-3-1 or 3-5-2?

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    Roberto Mancini resisted the temptation to play 3-5-2 at Stamford Bridge despite his tendency to use it against the "bigger" sides.

    It worked a treat in the Community Shield, but the Italian opted for a safe 4-2-3-1 today and it was the right decision.

    Manchester City rarely came under sustained pressure and controlled the game tempo rather well. They made the Blues' attack look pedestrian with four defenders, not five, and this should give the Citizens' boss some food for thought.

Yaya Toure Needs a Rest

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    Yaya Toure is usually a magnificent player to watch.

    His combative nature, tidy passing and forceful running is an unanswered concept across world football, but his performances are steadily diminishing.

    Roberto Mancini rotates left-back, right-back, wing and striker, but he never drops his Ivorian beast. While that's testament to his integral nature, he needs a week off if Manchester City can afford to give him one.

Tactical Stalemate

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    As I alluded to in the live commentary of the game, this match represented the classic tactical stalemate often found when two 4-2-3-1 formations meet.

    With two holding midfield pivots on the field, the centre of the pitch was all but locked down. Both Manchester City and Chelsea found their best attacking options to be the left and right wings, respectively.

    Juan Mata's perfect switches from the right often brought Ashley Cole into play, while James Milner and Sergio Aguero combined well on the Citizens' left.

    Other than some congested action on the flanks, there wasn't a lot for either team to feel proud of offensively here.