Chelsea 3 Manchester City 0
A Bridge too far for City
Sunday 20th August 2006 :Matt Barlow at Stamford
Bridge for Get Your Kits Out
John Terry, who led from the front to score in his first game as
England skipper against Greece on Wednesday, launched Chelsea's bid
for a hat-trick of Premiership titles in similar style on Sunday.
led from the front to score in his first game as England skipper
against Greece on Wednesday.
And he was on target again as Jose Mourinho's champions sank 10-man
City to get the defence of their Barclays Premiership crown off to
the right start.
Frank Lampard added a second before the break and Didier Drogba
grabbed the third after Bernardo Corradi was sent off on his City
It was business as usual at Stamford Bridge, where Mourinho has
still not lost a league game since his arrival.
The Blues boss claimed his team were not ready for the new campaign
with a string of injuries and an unusually short pre-season
programme behind them.
But, as the players emerged from the tunnel for their warm-up, the
big screens at Stamford Bridge showed Manchester Uni£ed hammering
Fulham 5-1 at Old Trafford.
United had started with a bang and, ready or not, Chelsea would not
want to concede early ground to the Stretford Reds.
Liverpool and Arsenal had both dropped two points on the opening day
from games they were expected to win.
Chelsea had to get the job done - and they did with the sort of
ruthlessness which has become their trademark under Mourinho.
They did not look particularly fluent in their new attacking
formation with two strikers and two wingers.
But they went ahead through their on-field leader Terry in the 11th
minute and, from that point, never looked like taking anything less
than three points from the game.
Terry once again proved what a big influence he can have on matches.
The defender trotted forward after Ben Thatcher fouled Paulo
Ferreira on the Chelsea right.
Arjen Robben delivered an inswinger and Terry slipped marker Richard
Dunne to glance a header past City goalkeeper Nicky Weaver, standing
in for new signing Andreas Isaksson.
Weaver had no chance with that goal or the second, from Lampard in
the 26th minute, which took a cruel deflection off Dunne.
Michael Essien found his midfield partner unmarked on the edge of
the City penalty area with his back to goal.
Lampard, also on target for England against Greece, spun and
released a low shot which clipped Dunne on the shin and left Weaver
It put Chelsea in total control despite the string of injuries which
left Mourinho without Michael Ballack, Claude Makelele, Joe Cole,
Robert Huth, Geremi and Petr Cech.
William Gallas was not considered for selection after upsetting
Mourinho with his late return for pre-season and his demands for a
City boss Pearce came to Stamford Bridge with problems of his own.
Isaksson, Didi Hamann, Hatem Trabelsi and Andy Cole were missing but
there were Premiership debuts for Ousmane Dabo and Corradi.
City rarely troubled Carlo Cudicini. Claudio Reyna fired wide from
long-range in the first-half and Corradi miscued a difficult chance
on the volley.
Chelsea wanted a penalty when an Andriy Shevchenko shot hit Dunne on
the arm, five minutes into the second half, but referee Steve
Bennett quite rightly waved away their appeals.
It was another of the controversial ball-to-hand incidents which
have dominated the first weekend of the Premiership.
Replays clearly showed the ball hit Dunne's arm but it was certainly
not intentional and City rightly escaped.
Any hope of a dramatic City comeback vanished when Corradi collected
his second yellow card in the 63rd minute.
The striker was booked when he and Dabo performed a superb pincer
attack on Ferreira - and the Italian received his second booking for
a reckless late challenge on Essien.
It was a clear-cut decision for referee Bennett, who also booked
Essien for his reaction to the foul, when the Chelsea midfielder
tugged Corradi's hair.
Drogba made it 3-0 with a diving header, 12 minutes from time, after
Wayne Bridge had raced down the left-wing on the overlap and
collected a pass from Robben.
It looked like a good day for the champions would be capped when
Shevchenko had the net in stoppage time - - but the Ukrainian's
hopes of opening his Premiership goal account on his debut were
ended by an offside flag.
of the day was to see what Chelsea have done to Sean Wright
Phillips. How can you change such an exciting bubbly little
character into the shadow that was on view here at Stamford Bridge.
Clearly out of his depth he needs another club where his undoubted
skills could be unleashed yet again on the Premier League.
Chelsea Cudicini, Paulo Ferreira,
Terry, Ricardo Carvalho,Bridge, Wright-Phillips (Kalou 72), Lampard,
Essien,Robben (Diarra 79), Shevchenko, Drogba (Mikel 83).
Subs Not Used: Hilario, Mancienne.
Goals: Terry 11, Lampard 26, Drogba 78.
Man City Weaver, Richards, Distin,
Dunne, Thatcher, Sinclair,Barton, Dabo (Vassell 57), Reyna (Ireland
72), Corradi,Samaras (Dickov 57).
Subs Not Used: Hart, Danny Mills.
Sent Off: Corradi (63).
Booked: Dabo, Corradi, Dickov.
Ref: S Bennett (Kent).
Manchester City 0 Portsmouth 0
Wednesday 23rd August 2006 : GYKO at the COMSTAD
This was a seriously forgettable match at the City of Manchester
Stadium last night, except for one appalling episode three minutes
into the second half: Ben Thatcher’s forearm smash into the jaw of
Pedro Mendes that resulted in the Portsmouth midfield player being
kept in hospital overnight for observation.
It was an ugly scene, and whether the Manchester City left back was
trying to make up for a lack of
incident in the Barclays Premiership game, who knows, but the force
of his blow sent the Portuguese crashing into the advertising
As he lay unconscious on the ground, Mendes suffered a fit before
being carried off on a stretcher five minutes later and straight to
hospital as paramedics administered oxygen and connected him to a
Had Dermot Gallagher, the referee, got a clear view of the incident,
he would probably have sent off Thatcher, but having only booked
him, which suggested that he saw an infringement, the Welshman may
escape censure from the FA.
“We say we’ve had a clampdown, but what’s a red card if that’s not a
red card?” Harry Redknapp, an irate Portsmouth manager, said in the
aftermath. “What have you got to do to get a red card, kill someone?
You pull someone’s shirt or kick the ball away and get booked and
then you go and do that and only get a yellow card. They (the FA)
have got to look at it, it’s there for all to see.”
Some might have forgiven Thatcher had he not had any previous. He
was sent off for two bookings against Shanghai Shenhua during City’s
summer tour to China, but it was an elbow that resulted in one of
the Shanghai players suffering a collapsed lung during the same
match that lingers in the memory.
And the full back received a two-match ban for elbowing Nicky
Summerbee while playing for Wimbledon against Sunderland in January
2000. Worse still, the attack on Mendes was not his first of the
game. He also raised arms at Sean Davis, Kanu and Benjani Mwaruwari,
which escaped the attention of Gallagher.
“I knew it was coming five seconds before it came,” Redknapp said.
“As soon as I saw Ben Thatcher, I knew what was going to happen. I
would have bet my life on it being a banger. Off the field, you
couldn’t meet a nicer boy. Unfortunately, when he is on the pitch he
does things like that.”
Redknapp’s comments were echoed by Matt Taylor. “It was a disgrace,”
the Portsmouth midfield player said. “Thatcher needs to have a look
Stuart Pearce claimed not to have seen the incident properly. “I
hope it (the video evidence) shows it was accidental, but if it does
not, I think the disciplinary action will come from elsewhere,” the
City manager said.
David James, who was cheered on his return after signing for
Portsmouth a fortnight ago, would probably have been hard pressed to
remember the previous time an opposition goalkeeper was given such
an easy ride at the City of Manchester Stadium. But he still had
more to do than Nicky Weaver in the City goal, who, with the
exception of a splendid save from Taylor in the 68th minute, was
Joey Barton and Ishmael Miller had City’s best chances, but the mind
had drifted to thoughts for Mendes’s health long before the final
Get Your Kits Out View : On Thatcher - Sack the thug. This
was the lowest crowd to watch a Premier League game at the COMSTAD
and the alarm bells must be ringing in the boardroom. If they think
even the most die hard fans will shell out the best part of £50 each
to watch this miserable excuse for entertainment then I can assure
them, the bad times are on the way back. Buck up or prepare to down
size. I'm taking my two young grandsons to watch the Arsenal game at
the COMSTAD on Saturday and that will cost me the best part of
£100.00 when you add travel, programmes, drinks, food etc. Fifty
years plus of City blood running through my veins is being severely
tested at the moment.
Man City Weaver, Richards, Dunne,
Distin, Thatcher, Sinclair,Barton, Reyna (Ireland 66), Samaras
(Miller 71), Vassell,Dickov.
Subs Not Used: Hart, Dabo, Danny Mills.
Booked: Sinclair, Thatcher.
Portsmouth James, Johnson, Primus,
Campbell, Stefanovic,Taylor, O'Neil, Davis, Pedro Mendes(Hughes 52),
Kanu,Mwaruwari (Todorov 65).
Subs Not Used: Jordan, Thompson, Pamarot.
Ref: D Gallagher (Oxfordshire).
Left - City Corner & Jamo returns
Manchester City 1 Arsenal 0
The Real City Turn up!
Saturday 26th August 2006 : GYKO at the COMSTAD
Joey Barton blasted Manchester City out of their own misery and
pitched Arsenal into despair at Eastlands.
No goals, bottom of the table, submerged in bad publicity following
Ben Thatcher's disgraceful conduct and their neighbours from Old
Trafford blazing a trail at the top.
As opening weeks go, things could hardly have been any worse for
City and their supporters.
Yet the Blues emerged from the gloom to produce their most
purposeful and effective performance since they tumbled out of last
season's FA Cup to West Ham in March, with Barton - himself a man
with plenty of previous - providing the finish, rattling home a
Barton could not quite be described as the hero. There were plenty
of others who deserved the accolade as well, notably central
defensive duo Richard Dunne and Sylvain Distin, plus goalkeeper
Nicky Weaver, who twice brilliantly denied Thierry Henry with his
City's collective defiance came at the expense of an Arsenal side
who, if the Barclays Premiership must have a crisis club, are now
One point from two games, and already eight adrift of Manchester
United, Arsene Wenger's men appear to be a pale shadow of the side
which reached last season's Champions League Final.
And, if Blackburn manage to avoid defeat against Chelsea, the
Gunners will spend the two-week international break sitting
embarrassingly in the Premiership relegation zone.
Given the publicity surrounding Thatcher and the fact City were
entertaining a side they had not beaten in 17 years, as backdrops
go, it was about as bleak as the darkest, dullest, wet and miserable
Yet, summoning up all the tenacity and battling spirit for which
manager Stuart Pearce is famed, they took the fight to their
illustrious opponents without ever crossing the line of
acceptability Thatcher so clearly transgressed on Wednesday.
True, Weaver did make two excellent feet-first saves to deny Henry,
but could only watch as Van Percie blasted a shot against the
post and Kolo Toure's injury-time header did bounce off the top of
City's crossbar, but it would be hard to deny the hosts their
Barton was his usual all-action self in midfield, while Dunne and
Distin stood firm as Henry threatened mayhem.
Crucially, it appeared Pearce had also identified a glaring weakness
in Arsenal's defence.
In setting his side up for a rugby union-style kick-off and then
berating Weaver for launching a long ball to the Arsenal right in
the opening minutes, Pearce clearly felt the inexperience of Gunners
left-back Justin Hoyte offered an avenue of opportunity.
By the time Hoyte conceded the fateful penalty, his lack of
positional nous had already been exposed once by a high, cross field
On that occasion, Sinclair slipped past him and fed Barton, whose
precise strike rolled inches wide.
Fearing the worst when Sinclair seized possession in similar
circumstances but inside the area four minutes before the break,
Hoyte simply crashed into the former England international.
Barton, once again a City hero after resolving his much-publicised
contract dispute, kept his nerve from the spot, even if his shot did
cannon in off the underside of the bar.
The Blues would have been in front before that anyway had Bernardo
Corradi's downward header had the power to prevent Jens Lehmann
getting across to make a low save.
Given the ever-decreasing margin for error in completing successful
title quests, Arsenal could hardly afford to lose any more ground,
even at this ridiculously early stage of the season.
It was fairly obvious the Gunners' attacking momentum should
increase throughout the second period, yet Henry's best efforts
produced no reward as Dunne and Distin continued their heroics.
Behind them, Weaver remained calm and kept his concentration,
although even he was forced to breathe a sigh of relief when Robin
van Persie's angled effort flew past both him and his left-hand
In the end, with new signing Tomas Rosicky showing none of the verve
which made him one of the most eye-catching players at the World
Cup, Wenger called on Theo Walcott.
But the teenager could not conjure up any magic and Wenger badly
needs to find some inspiration before the transfer window shuts next
Get Your Kits Out View : After the midweek dross that we had
to endure at the COMSTAD it was refreshing to see City make a decent
fist of this one. Yes Arsenal could have had a bagful but, they
didn't. Yes Arsenal could have had a penalty but, City did and for
me a deserved first win of the season. I hope the City lads watch
the video of this game if only to see Arsenals excellent pass and
move football, that is the way to play the game but, City still won
Man City Weaver, Richards, Dunne,
Distin, Jordan, Sinclair,Barton, Dabo, Vassell (Danny Mills 80),
Dickov (Samaras 86),Corradi (Miller 90).
Subs Not Used: Hart, Ireland.
Goals: Barton 41 pen.
Arsenal Lehmann, Eboue (Flamini 83),
Toure, Djourou, Hoyte,Hleb (Adebayor 76), Fabregas, Silva, Rosicky
(Walcott 66),Van Persie, Henry.
Subs Not Used: Almunia, Cygan.
Booked: Van Persie.
Ref: U Rennie (S Yorkshire).