The Charity shield final tends to be regarded as highly as a slow and experimental pre-season friendly. It is usually charitable as the name suggests, with both teams allowing a run out for their opponents. Managers will rest certain players and give others the opportunity they may not get a week later once the real games begin. The players are at a good level of fitness by the time the fixture comes about and no one wants any hiccups the week before the start of the Premier League season. More about the midweek International fixture later.
However, the Charity Shield Final between Chelsea and Manchester City was far from the above. A booking for either team within the first half hour outlined the atmosphere around a wet Villa Park.
Despite Manchester City’s early dominance of possession and Chelsea’s willingness to allow them to it, it was in fact the London club who struck earliest with the first real chance of the game. A poor defensive header from Vincent Kompany allowed Rameires to coast into the Champions’ box. His pass fell to Fernando Torres who with a second touch poked the ball over stand-in goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon. The Spaniard looked fresh from a successful European championship ahead of what is set to be his best season as a Chelsea player.
Rather than enjoy their lead into half time, controversy joined the game as Chelsea’s Ivanovic was given a straight sending off for his foul on City full back Kolarov. The Serbian defender lunged in on Kolarov with his studs showing, giving referee Kevin Friend no choice but to dismiss him. The fact that City’s possession at the time of the foul came after Torres was wrongly penalised for his involvement in a collision with City defender Stefan Savic meant controversy surrounded the moment. Replay’s show that it was Savic, 21, who in fact impeded the Spanish striker and should have seen a second yellow card himself.
Half Time signalled the end of a heated five minutes at Villa Park which saw a further Chelsea booking for England international Frank Lampard.
Facing Manchester City with ten men for 45 minutes is a tough challenge for any team and the start of the second half saw a return of their dominance. It took eight minutes for the score line to become balanced again after Yaya Toure, quiet prior to his goal, drove a low strike past Petr Cech. Despite Torres’ best efforts in a tireless lone-striker display, he was left isolated up top as City dominated the Chelsea midfield. On the 60th minute mark the Premier League Champions went ahead for the first time through heart-splitting striker Carlos Tevez. The Argentinean immediately lifted his shirt to reveal the name of his home neighbourhood near Buenos Aires, hopefully not a signal of where he wishes to ply his trade anytime soon.
Chelsea looked a beaten side and with half an hour to go looked on route to an
embarrassing defeat just a week before they face Wigan in their first game of the Premier League season. A Samir Nasri goal on the 65th minute confirmed Manchester City’s first silverware of the new season. The Frenchman latched on to a cross after Kolarov neatly cut through the right side of Chelsea’s defense.
With only a quarter of the game remaining, it should have been easy for Mancini’s side. However complacency amongst the ranks left Chelsea with the chance of a comeback late on. Daniel Sturridge’s goal bound strike was parried by the-less-than-convincing Pantilimon and fell to the on rushing feet of Ryan Bertrand to make the score 3-2. Ten man Chelsea continued to press but failed to equalise with either of their two late corners.
A win may be a win but Mancini will be worried with his team’s inability to close off the game. The Italian manager has expressed his unhappiness at the lack of additions to his squad this summer and over the next few weeks will surely push those above him to spend. The introduction of a glum face Edin Dzeko two minutes from time suggested his days are limited at the club. The potential departure of him and Emmanuel Adebayor could free up space for new recruits, although time is now against them.
It is hard enough to win the Premier League title but without doubt harder to win it again the next year. After all people get complacent, just as the Manchester City players did with half an hour to go in the Charity Shield Final.
Despite the clubs mega spending over the last five years, it is complacency that almost cost them the most at Villa Park this afternoon, and which could cost them the most this coming season.
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