CHELSEA 1, MANCHESTER CITY 1
David Silva’s equaliser late in the first half ensured that City kept pace with Chelsea in the title race in the game at Stamford Bridge.
It was billed as a potential title decider in January but ended honours even, with City on top and an emotional final farewell to his old stomping ground for City substitute Frank Lampard.
On this occasion there was to be no goal for Lampard at the Bridge in a game that City came to win according to Manuel Pellegrini.
The Chelsea that City faced were missing their two most potent weapons signed this season in the suspended Diego Costa and the injured Cesc Fabregas and they were a very reserved side, with no shots on target after Loic Remy’s goal just before half time and a total of only three shots on target in all.
Once again City fielded their important players but captain Vincent Kompany and talismanic striker Sergio Aguero looked short of their best and in need of more game time on their road back to full match fitness following injury.
Aguero had a couple of chances to help City take the lead in the first half. Jesus Navas had already forced Thibaut Courtois into a save and Fernandinho’s shot took a slight deflection off Cesar Azpilicueta before the Argentine tested the Chelsea ‘keeper himself.
A fully match fit and in-form Aguero would have dispatched the chance laid on to him when John Terry misjudged a long ball leaving the pacy frontman with just Courtois to beat but sent it wide.
City might have feared the worst without Yaya Toure again but Fernandinho, James Milner and Bacary Sagna’s work rate provided the platform for a strong performance against a tactically disciplined Chelsea.
City had had more possession, more shots on goal and many more corners as they arrived at Stamford Bridge set up to attack as promised by Manuel Pellegrini.
Typically, though, it was Chelsea that took the lead. City had already had warnings with Remy’s cross to Oscar resulting in a tame shot, but Remy was on hand to convert a superb first time cross by Eden Hazard in the 41st minute. The Stamford Bridge bus was being fired up and City had to react fast.
Thankfully they did, and Navas’ cross was parried out by Courtois, Aguero reacted first to reach the rebound and his drive was diverted in by David Silva past a wrong-footed Branislav Ivanovic on the line.
Chelsea preserved their point in the second half despite pressure from City that intensified as the game drew to a close.
Perhaps mindful of the extra two hours on the pitch against Liverpool in midweek Chelsea looked the more circumspect towards the end, allowing the crowd to take in the return of Lampard and watching warily as Fernandinho’s downward header was tipped over by Courtois while James Milner drove wide.