Chelsea FC 2-1 Manchester City Tactical Analysis: Andre Villas-Boas Won't Learn
But did he mastermind it? Or did John Terry take matters into his own hands and abandoned Villas-Boas' high line?
In a way, Villas-Boas' stubborn approach in playing the high line could have cost Chelsea dearly, if not for circumstances and luck going Chelsea's way.
This article will provide a comprehensive tactical analysis and a breakdown of the game's talking points, including referee Mark Clattenburg's inconsistent performance.
André Villas-Boas' Much Talked About High Line
André Villas-Boas abandoned his beloved high-line tactic in the fight-or-flight UEFA Champions League game against Valencia.
Ironically, Valencia's defensive blunders gifted Chelsea the win when, throughout the season, it was Chelsea giving away points left, right and centre with defensive mistakes.
Against Manchester City, Villas-Boas defined foolhardy as he persisted with his high line against Roberto Mancini's men.
It only took Manchester City two minutes to breach Chelsea's high line.
However, it was what Villas-Boas said in the press conference which seemed odd.
John Terry Going Against André Villas-Boas?
This is what I'm talking about:
"In the first minutes, we suffered a lot and the players felt they needed to adjust. They were brave to adapt and we showed good strength of character to win this game."
What you can deduct from this quote is André Villas-Boas saying the players abandoned the high line, presumably late in the first half, when Manchester City should have scored at least two.
So one has to ask who led the abandonment of the high line?
I believe it was John Terry as his reaction after Mario Balotelli's goal typified that of a journeyman boxer losing to a rising up-and-comer—"I expected that to happen."
Talking about Terry, let's look at how he was caught by his manager's own tactics, which were meant to empower the centre back.
Sergio Agüero Laying Waste to the High Line
The point of a high line is to press heavily, close down the opposition and ideally win the ball back in an advanced position, therefore launching a swift counter attack.
This worked perfectly for André Villas-Boas at Porto; however it has proved troublesome at Chelsea.
Let's start from the beginning of City's goal-scoring sequence.
David Silva makes a routine pass to Pablo Zabaleta.
Juan Mata isn't marking Zabaleta, even though the Spaniard is out wide and Chelsea aren't in possession; Zabaleta passes it to Sergio Agüero.
John Terry, thinking he can win the ball, rushes out to pressure Agüero, and Ashley Cole is there too.
Note this, he's on the right side of Agüero, and one has to ask why isn't he on the left side?
Oriol Romeu pushes forward.
Mata's decision not to mark Zabaleta has caused a chain of events where Agüero has drawn three Chelsea players out of position.
So what happens next?
Mistake After Mistake After Mistake
Watching it live, you're probably asking how on earth is Branislav Ivanović not marking Balotelli.
In the previous slide, I told you to take note of Ashley Cole being on the right side of Sergio Agüero.
As Oriol Romeu presses, James Milner runs in behind him to take the space that should be occupied by Cole.
Thinking José Bosingwa will track Mario Balotelli, Ivanović is anticipating Agüero passing it out wide to James Milner.
Agüero surprises Ivanović with a trivela pass between the defender and Bosingwa; hence why the Serbian looked slow to react.
Also thank goodness he missed his late lunge on Balotelli because if he caught the Italian, it would have been a penalty to Manchester City and a man advantage.
Gaël Clichy's Inept Performance
Gaël Clichy picked the wrong game to go missing in action at left back.
He was torched time after time by Daniel Sturridge as exemplified with the Englishman's assist for Raul Meireles' goal that leveled the game.
Already on a yellow card, Clichy tripped up Ramires and was sent off with 32 minutes plus stoppage time to play.
It swung the game in Chelsea's favour.
What was remarkable was Clichy didn't win one tackle, nor did he intercept the ball once.
From an offensive perspective, he had the lowest passing completion rate of all 20 starting outfield players.
Referee Mark Clattenburg's Inconsistent Performance
By kicking and slapping Juan Mata, Yaya Touré should have been sent off twice.
I find it remarkable how Roberto Mancini can complain about referee Mark Clattenburg for not giving a penalty to Manchester City, yet remain silent about Yaya's gross misconduct.
That being said, I'm perplexed as to how Ramires escaped a red card for a terrible tackle.
Who is the odd one out?
It's Balotelli, who is the only player from the list that didn't receive a yellow card.
Clattenburg sent off Clichy for two cynical fouls yet didn't do the same with Kompany.
The FA: Stuck in Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Gervinho received one of the softest red cards I've seen in recent memory.
He slapped Joey Barton, the hardened Merseyside streetboy, and Barton milked the incident in a way akin to Sergio Busquets.
Gervinho was suspended for three games.
The FA should suspend Yaya Touré for three games.
What do I mean by the FA being stuck in between a rock and a hard place?
Remember, they disgracefully appealed Wayne Rooney's red card for kicking Miodrag Džudović, and were successful.
If they then suspend Yaya, then they would be outed as a hypocrites (not that that's a surprise).
If they don't suspend Yaya, then they would be seen as endorsing anti-social behaviour, which seems that way after they turned a blind eye to Džudović being assaulted.
Frank Lampard's Penalty History in 2011
I've always been intrigued with penalty specialists, and Frank Lampard has had a decent year with taking penalties.
He's scored seven of nine penalties, which translates to a 77.7 percent success rate.
So I decided to watch all his penalties in 2011 and roughly pinpoint where he shot.
It's interesting that in the two big games against Manchester United and Manchester City, Lampard blasted it down the middle.
Johan Neeskens did the same during the 1974 FIFA World Cup final.
What did you think of the game?
Was referee Mark Clattenburg right in not awarding Manchester City a penalty when José Bosingwa fouled David Silva?
My problem with the decision is if Clattenburg believed Silva was diving then why no yellow card?
If you have any questions regarding the tactics used by both sides, then feel free to comment below.
Please also read 8 Clubs That Most Need to Spend.