Kovacic’s shot from the edge of the area was blocked by Disasi and rebounded to Rodri, 25 yards out. He swept a low left-footed shot that took a huge deflection off Thiago Silva and wrongfooted Sanchez. I’m pretty sure it would otherwise have been a comfortable save, but Thiago instinctively stuck his leg out and diverted the ball into the net.
Chelsea v Manchester City: Premier League – live | Premier League
Not for the first time in 2023, Rodri scores a huge goal!
85 min “Re: the injured players XI,” begins David Penney. “As an Arsenal fan, I will humbly offer Abou Diaby in central midfield.”
That poor guy. He scored some imperious goals when he was fit – I can remember a couple at Villa Park and St James’ Park in games I MBMed. Were his later injury problems related to that horror tackle at Sunderland in 2005-06? I wonder how much psychological damage an incident like that does to the perpetrator, never mind the victim. Unless you are a sociopath, it must eventually run amok in your subconscious.
84 min Raheem Sterling is caught offside. Peter Drury tells us it’s the first offside of the game, which is a cracking stat and one of the many reasons it has been so exhilarating to watch.
81 min Gallagher tries an up-and-under from 30 yards but gets too much on it. He’s had a fine game though, and is a symbol of the intensity and quality of Chelsea’s pressing.
79 min: Man City substitution A rare pragmatic substitution from Pep Guardiola: Mateo Kovacic replaces Julian Alvarez in midfield. That’s another compliment to Chelsea.
77 min Gusto needs treatment after landing awkwardly near the halfway line. He’s okay.
76 min “I was going to suggest suggesting a perpetually injured all-time XI,” says Ian Copestake, “but none would be available at the same time.”
It’s the imaginary treatment room I’d worry about. Imagine the air quality.
75 min: What a chance for Gusto! City are ragged at the back. Sterling wins the ball just outside the area and smuggles a reverse pass through to Gusto. He opens his body, 12 yards out, but curls over the bar with his left foot. That was a glorious chance, and his first reaction was to belt the ground in frustration.
75 min: Great defending from Akanji! The last man Akanji makes a vital sliding tackle on Jackson, who would otherwise have been able to put Sterling through on goal.
73 min Ederson’s panicky clearance hits the hand of his teammate Walker. It was outside the area, so wouldn’t have been a penalty, but Anthony Taylor didn’t see it anyway.
72 min Rodri is booked for pulling back Cole Palmer, who has had a fine game agianst his old club. He’s now playing as the No10, with Sterling on the right and Mudryk left.
71 min If only you could press a red button to hear Pep Guardiola’s internal monologue at a time like this. This game is far too wild and open for his taste.
69 min City have a huge penalty appeal turned down when Bernardo Silva’s cross hits the sliding Disasi. Replays show the ball hit his head rather than the outstretched right hand.
Conor Gallagher whistled a drive from 25 yards that Ederson, diving to his left, could only push out in front of goal. Jackson – who has been very quiet all afternoon – reacted fastest to collect the rebound and slide it under Ederson. That’s a clinical finish, and a nice way to end a week he won’t forget in a hurry.
Another twist in this extraordinary match!
64 min “I can’t be the only one who wishes that the ball had grazed Haaland’s elbow just before it crossed the line, meaning the goal was ruled out by VAR,” says Luke Jones. “Not out of any loyalty to Chelsea, but just because the controversy would have been truly world class. Just imagine Pep’s reaction!”
Nothing, surely, will ever top the human comedy of Anfield 2019.
65 min There’s a break in play while Ederson receives treatment.
64 min: Double substitution for Chelsea Malo Gusto and Mykhailo Mudryk replace Reece James, who is still feeling his way back from injury, and Enzo Fernandez.
62 min I can’t keep up with this. Caicedo is booked for a foul on someone in a light blue shirt, then Foden’s long-range shot is comfortably saved by Sanchez.
60 min: Palmer denied by Ederson! That would have been a glorious goal against his own club. He moved infield to receive the ball 30 yards out, back to goal. In a flash he turned away from Rodri, then swerved past Dias and into the area. By the time he was in a position to shoot he was slightly off balance, and his low shot was very well blocked by the outrushing Ederson.
60 min: City substitution Talking of which, Jack Grealish has just come on to replace Doku.
59 min “In my opinion,” says Jeff Sax, “Doku adds more to City’s game than Grealish.”
I love their contrasting styles, which allows City to pick and choose depending on the opposition. For a game like today, against James, I might have preferred a craftier player like Grealish.
58 min: Chance for Doku! Another dangerous break from City. With James caught upfield, Doku is able to run at the backpedalling Disasi. He moves into the area and drags a low shot that rebounds off the partially unsighted Sanchez and just evades Haaland.
56 min Doku is booked for diving in the area. A couple of early runs aside, he’s been played really well by Reece James.
54 min Caicedo fouls Gvardiol 25 yards from goal. Alvarez’s cross is unusually overhit and goes behind for a goalkick.
54 min “Age is a funny thing, Rob,” says Simon McMahon. “In the sense that you barely think about it for the first half of your life, then do nothing but think about it during the second half (assuming a life expectancy of, say, 80). Something to do with relativity, no doubt. Or VAR.”
53 min City have a bit of a strut on now. Rodri heads the ball down to Alvarez, who cuts across a half-volley from 15 yards that is well held to his left by Sanchez.
51 min “The Chelsea manager alumni club has got Maurizio Sarri’s Lazio facing Jose Mourinho’s Roma in the derby as I write this,” says Peter Oh. “My eyes are starting to sting from the smoke bombs, flares and cigarette smoke just thinking about it.”
The phrase ‘with hilarious consequences’ comes to mind.
49 min There was a VAR check for a possible handball but the goal stands. The ball was moving so slowly that Haaland slid into the net before it. It eventually hit Haaland’s arm, but by that stage the ball was over the line.
Caicedo tried to nick the ball off Haaland, 60 yards from goal, and from that moment Chelsea were exposed. Haaland moved it square to Alvarez, who forced it out to Foden on the right. He waited for Alvarez to make a lung-busting run on the outside and slid a simple ball down the line. Alvarez guided a perfect low cross into the six-yard box, where Haaland got the wrong side of James and slid the ball over the line from about a yard. It wasn’t elegant – the ball hit both feet and then his side before going over the line – but he doesn’t seem perturbed by any aesthetic compromise.
City take the lead again after a devastating break!
46 min Peep peep!
“The classic example of the perpetually injured player was Ledley King,” says David Wall. “While Reece James is nowhere near that point yet, I think they can be more trouble for a team than they’re worth, no matter the quality of performances when they are available. Especially in defensive positions it’s important to form relationships and understanding with your fellow defenders and goalkeeper.
“When Harry Redknapp was managing Spurs he always brought King back into the team as soon as he was fit even when the other centre-halves had been playing really well over a number of games beforehand. Inevitably King would get injured again after 4-5 games and so the others would have to try to rebuild the understanding they had before.
“Of course, it’s hard to judge the counter-factual but i tend to think that across the season Spurs would have been better defensively sticking with the same centre half pairing (therefore without King) consistently rather than changing it as and when King was available.”
You could argue it’s less of a problem these days, with squad rotation more common, though I agree that centre-back (and goalkeeper) are the worst positions for injury-prone players. I suppose every case is different – you’d never leave out Bryan Robson, for example. And even at centre-back, Vincent Kompany was still a key part of City’s success in his last few seasons.
“City scoring a goal from a corner seems very un-Pep-like,” says Ian Copestake. “Like sitting down for a meal at a restaurant and being served a bag of crisps.”
Been asleep since Covid have you buddy? This is CityPep 2.0, where set-piece goals are as beloved as 492-pass moves.
“Great game with ABCs everywhere hoping Chelsea can put a spoke in City’s wheel and keep the title race interesting,” writes Rick Harris. “There have been encouraging signs in recent games that Pochettino is beginning to make sense out the bag of all sorts he has inherited and if Chelsea can put City to the sword after despatching Spurs last weekend that will be a remarkable turnaround. The trouble is that City are just far too good.”
If I was a Chelsea fan I’d be really excited about their future under Pochettino. The age profile of the squad is perfect for him.
That was one of the better 45 minutes (okay, 51) that we’ve seen this season. Erling Haaland put City ahead with a controversial penalty, but Chelsea always looked dangerous in attack and equalised with a deft header from Thiago Silva.
Raheem Sterling scored against his old club after a mistake by Josko Gvardiol – refreshingly, Sterling even celebrated for a bit – and then Manuel Akanji headed City level on the stroke of half-time. More, please!
45+6 min After more good play from Sterling, who has been terrific, Jackson’s shot deflects behind off Walker.
45+3 min “My missive wasn’t really meant to be critical, more of a ‘what might have been’,” says Joe Pearson. “Think of the choice Southgate would have to make if James were routinely fit and battling with Walker for regular starts at right back. Sigh.”
Indeed. I think he’s a marvellous player. At his best (and fittest), he’s probably England’s most complete right-back. It would also give you the option of playing James and Walker (as the right-sided centre back in a back three) against Kylian Mbappe or Vinicius Jr.
Sod it, play all of them. Kieran Trippier at left-back, Trent Alexander-Arnold in midfield.
Alvarez takes a short corner to Bernardo Silva in the inside-left channel. He curls a nice cross towards Akanji, who is weirdly unmarked and heads confidently past Sanchez from about eight yards. Mauricio Pochettino punches the air in disgust.
City are level!
45 min Six minutes of added time. Can we make it 60?
44 min Foden’s long-range shot is comfortably saved by Sanchez, then Jackson sweeps a shot straight at Ederson from 12 yards after another terrific run from Sterling.
42 min: Fine save by Sanchez! What a half of football this has been. Bernardo glides forward and waves a nice pass into Haaland on the edge of the D. He loses Thiago with a brilliant bit of movement and rifles a low shot back across goal with his left foot. It looks a certain goal, but Sanchez plunges to his left to make a superb one-handed save.
41 min Sterling runs at the backpedalling Walker, into the area, and curls a few yards wide of the far post.
40 min James collects a cute pass from Palmer and charges over the halfway line. He keeps going and eventually plays an angled pass to Sterling that is crucially cut out by the stretching Walker. Fernandez wallops the loose ball towards goal from 25 yards and Dias makes a desperate block.
Chelsea have caused City plenty of problems in transition.
40 min “As someone born a couple of months apart from Thiago Silva, I did let out a little shudder when Peter Drury called him ‘the grand old man’ after his equaliser. Hoping my ageing heart can take the pace of what has been an entertaining start to this one!”
Try being born eight years apart from him, and not in a good way.
39 min Alvarez’s dangerous cross on the turn is booted clear by Disasi in the six-yard box. This is a cracking match.
Palmer threaded a pass into the area towards the onrushing James. It should have been cut out by Gvardiol, but he lost his bearings, couldn’t sort his feet out and gave the ball straight to James. He reacted smartly and guided a low, first-time cross to give Sterling – who was being played onside by Gvardiol – a tap-in at the far post.
Raheem Sterling scores against his old club!
35 min: Just wide from Foden! And I mean just. Rodri marched through midfield and gave the ball to Foden on the edge of the area. He shifted the ball onto his left foot, away from Cucurella, and flashed a curling shot that beat Sanchez and whistled past the far post. That was a brilliant effort.
34 min “On Reece James,” says Joe Pearson. “As exciting as he is to watch, he just hasn’t been available enough lately. As some coach somewhere once said, the best ability is availability.”
Did that coach teach empathy in his spare time? I take the point, and eventually you have a decision to make if somebody can’t stay fit, but I also think we’re far too harsh on injury-prone players – as if they have some kind of moral failing rather than rotten, soul-crushing luck.
(I may be a bit emotional because of Jofra Archer’s latest setback.)
32 min: Chance for Haaland! This is a cracking game. Foden makes a terrific run down the right and lofts a cross beyond the far post. Haaland meets it on the volley, barely two yards out, but the angle is so tight that he can only shin it into the side netting.
31 min Peter Drury, commentating on Sky, tells us that Thiago is the first 39-year-old goalscorer in the Premier League since Ryan Giggs in February 2013. QPR away, since you asked.
Gallagher curled an outswinging corner to the near post, where Thiago got across Haaland and flicked a superb header into the far corner. That is such a good finish.
The old man has equalised!