Chelsea lost 1-0 to Manchester City in arguably the most lifeless match of the season
It was supposed to be the clash to two English heavyweights, an exhibition of two contrasting football philosophies. What it instead ended up being was a dull, dour and boring encounter where one team was not ready to play football.
Chelsea had all to fight for today. Both of their top 4 rivals – Liverpool and Tottenham – had secured regulation victories yesterday and the onus was now on them to keep pace. Conte’s men were, however, set up to strangle the life out of the game, at least that is the opinion of Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp.
FT: #ManCity 1-0 #Chelsea. Bernardo #Silva scores the winner for #Pep's side to consolidate their place at the top of the #PremierLeague! Match Stats: https://t.co/dCDpA0LuUL pic.twitter.com/u4wkkCeF5S
— FlashScore.com (@FlashScorecom) March 4, 2018
Speaking after the match, Redknapp did not hold back, giving a scathing assessment of Chelsea’s performance against City. He said:
“Nine of them [Chelsea players] have won Premier League titles, Manchester had two. You wouldn’t have thought that, would you, while watching it? They were completely outclassed.”
“Last year we spoke so much about what Antonio Conte did for this league, the job he did and the way he changed the system. But today, that was such a hard watch, that was anti-football. That was a crime against football what they did today. I really felt that so strongly.”
Man City vs Chelsea stats:
Possession – 71% vs 29%
Touches – 1134 vs 527
Passes – 975 vs 392
Shots – 13 vs 3
— Premier League Panel (@PremLeaguePanel) March 4, 2018
Despite having both of his strikers, Morata and Giroud, fit and available, Conte opted to play Eden Hazard as a false nine. The Belgian has himself confessed earlier that he does not fancy that role. Still, Conte went for it and the result was that Hazard got frustrated as the game wore on. Questioning the Italian’s pre-match tactics and team selection, Redknapp added:
“Before the game, manager set it out in their mind ‘we are just going to sit back, we’re not going to play’. They’re better than that, they’re much better than that.”
“As much as Pep [Guardiola] would have celebrated that, he must have thought ‘that was a waste of time’. Chelsea just gave them the three points before the game started.”
With this win, City moved 18 points clear at the top of the table. Now that just 9 rounds of matches are remaining, Guardiola’s men will be looking to secure the league by mid-April. Meanwhile, Chelsea cut adrift of the top 4 after the loss. They are now 5 points behind 4th placed Spurs.
Conte set his team up for a draw. Even after conceding Chelsea were happy to maintain their defensive shape and go for damage control. Consequently, Conte and his men are in a whole lot of trouble. The Blues will need to perform better in their remaining league fixtures if they are to ensure Champions League football next season.