Chelsea fans have been gifted with something to do during the upcoming international break.
They can dance the Samba on the Fulham Road.
Chelsea’s two spectacular new Brazilians broke open a tight game against Manchester City at Stamford Bridge and led their team to an emphatic victory.
It’s a victory that puts Chelsea into 3rd place in the Premier League, keeping Manchester United within 9 points and putting Arsenal within 4. It also probably secures a Champions League place for next season.
David Luiz and Ramires were stellar. Luiz covered ground ferociously on defense. City’s £35 million man Dzeko must be wondering what hit him. Every time he thought he had space, on came nimble Luiz to punish him and take the ball away.
And when the shadows were growing long and time was running out in a game that had become a desperate stalemate, Luiz pushed forward and won a free kick. He then gave Chelsea that vital, precious lead when, off the ensuing free kick, he placed a marvelously precise header into the bottom far corner off the cross by Didier Drogba.
Micheal Essien said post-match, “As you can see he’s been fantastic for us since he came here. We need his types of player at Chelsea. He’s done a great job for us.”
Luiz was almost a one man act. Almost.
Fellow Brazilian Ramires was his equal. The 23 year-old new boy ran his legs off. He covered back relentlessly, disrupting City’s midfield. His passing was generally quick and precise. And he flashed what is becoming his trademark; slashing runs forward with the ball that slice open the defense.
It was such a run in extra time that produced Chelsea’s second goal, a masterpiece. Taking the ball near the top of City’s box, Ramires ran past two men to isolate keeper Joe Hart and then blasted a shot to the top left corner. It was only his second score for the Blues but it’s a candidate for goal of the year.
It’s hard to choose a Man of the Match when you have two such strong candidates. So we’ve put a poll at the end of this post asking you to make the selection!
The pre-match omens didn’t suggest such a glorious outcome.
Chelsea executive Ron Gourlay, presumably parroting Roman Abramovich, chose the day of a big match to give his manager a vote-of-hardly-any-confidence. Gourlay said Ancelotti’s future would be evaluated at the end of the season.
That didn’t seem to frighten the Italian boss man. He selected a surprising team that is likely the future at Stamford Bridge.
On the bench were old warhorses Anelka and Drogba. In their places the younger Torres and Kalou got the start. And both had very strong matches.
The opening minutes were fast flowing and exciting as City pushed forward. Fullback Aleksandar Kolarov and imposing midfielder Yaya Toure both came on the attack.
But that didn’t last long. Chelsea’s pace with Torres and Kalou repeatedly exposed City’s defense on the counter-attack. It didn’t take long for Roberto Mancini to revert to his natural defensive instincts and pull Kolarov and Toure back.
After that, the match seemed destined to end a scoreless draw. Chelsea bossed the ball. But with Carlos Tevez injured and City in their familiar turtle mode, neither side looked capable of scoring.
Chelsea couldn’t get behind the City backline and the middle was clogged. Even when Ancelotti finally exchanged Torres and Kalou for the “old” Chelsea of Anelka and Drogba, the standoff continued.
But it must be said that Drogba fought like a warrior to win and hold the ball, covering back with energy. His superb cross along the top of the 6 yard box found Luiz for the goal. He looks like a man with plenty of appetite left.
It was Luiz pushing forward that changed the balance and ended the stalemate. His one-man effort transformed the game. After that, forced to open up in search of a goal, the visitors conceded huge spaces in their own half. And it was in such a space that Ramires found himself with room to run in extra time to seal the result.
This has been a season in which Chelsea’s old guard has repeatedly failed.
In today’s stirring victory, we have seen the future. And it looks good. Fearless Carlo selected young, new players and finally benched his faithful old warriors.
It was a pair of 23 year olds who broke through to get the result.
And frankly, we can’t choose between them. So we put it to you, dear readers, to do our work for us.
You select Chelsea’s Man of the Match!