The weekend gone produced a match which was described in some quarters as a catenaccio vs. catenaccio. Which was of course a somewhat apt description. It could have been a Milan derby of years gone by. Years gone by, turning back the clock to the golden age of defensive arrangements so tight that your general high profile match was an extremely dour affair.
What we saw at Eastlands was a dour affair.
Both sides have a wealth of attacking players. Why have we become so cynical as a race of people that such tactics are employed? Where has the adventure gone? Eastlands was an example of boardroom football. No real adventure, until one fellow pipes up with something.
Chelsea did pop up with a chance every now and then, hitting the cross bar at one stage, but it was the Argentinian maestro Tevez who opened the chelsea defence up.
This match could easily have been billed, Tevez vs. Drogba.
A major reason Tevez had his chance was the textbook defensive work done by Kolo Toure in tandem with Vincent Kompany on his Ivory Coast team mate Drogba. Toure was an effective part of the reason Drogba was pulled early in the second half.
The former Arsenal man, one of the invincible's, was instrumental in the blunting of one of the sharpest talents in world striking. This is a long way from the doubt that lurked in the shadows on the field at times when it came to City's defending last season. Toure led another line in this match which has remained completely impregnable throughout the match.
Of course, the able assistance of Hart and Kompany is duly noted, but Toure's stunning performance in the weekend confirmed that Manchester City have defensive capabilities to match any European giant.
There have been precious few teams in the last few years that have managed to keep Chelsea at bay and then win. Manchester City join the meagre few that have managed this, though it is not of course, the first time Chelsea have had troubles on the road in the last few years, who could forget the shock at Wigan last season?
In this match Chelsea were outclassed in their efforts to do exactly what Manchester City managed to do.
Didier Drogba, Chelsea's talismanic striker, was invisible, as he was marshaled here and there by a dominant Manchester City back-line, Kompany in particular excelling under the watchful eye of Toure, who was always in logical positions shutting space and visualising potential runs.
Toure is again proving he is capable of such defensive prowess, as he once did with Sol Campbell at Arsenal in that teams splendid run.
It seems after this result that perhaps Mancini has whipped this team into some sort of championship challenging form. Literally whipped apparently, as his grueling training regimes have provoked protest from several quarters.
Manchester City have only conceded two goals in their first six league games in the aftermath of this so it seems that Mancini is vindicated. But there have been murmurings from a former coach about over-training and resultant injuries, City are missing players and this seems to further fan fire to such talk.
There seems to be no doubting Mancini's tactical initiative though as he has once again defeated his friend Ancelotti and retains bragging rights for now (besides the fact his friend has the title, of course).
Kolo Toure seems to be in the form he has gathered his renown by, and by the looks of things he should continue to demonstrate his defensive prowess for many games to come. After this win over the team that many had said were already walking away with the title, including myself, in a bizarre fit of clairvoyance that had had me delusional until the moment I saw Tevez slot home the winner.
Manchester City may well have announced their imminent arrival as a force in world football, with this vigilant and vital victory that throws light across the map, for all to see, in the quest for the EPL trophy.
Kolo Toure must at times feel a familiar confidence in the air at the training ground, for he could well be a part of another side that goes on to glory.
In a complete aside, Manchester City have in one way gotten a sudden wealth which has given them huge power in the game, but in a way the organization is responsible for this anyway. Manchester City have historically been run in a sensible and prudent financial manner, which meant they presented a good area for profit. Business and football have always operated in tandem.
Manchester City represent a spoke in the cycle of football, there is no way they will forever sustain their strength, as is the nature of such things. Heroes rise and fall, teams prosper and then fade, such is the nature of this vaguely meaningless game. It remains a magical and beautiful distraction anyway.
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