Game On?

Wish I was home to watch the Chelsea v Man City game. The BBC live text page read for an exciting game, like so:

Live – Chelsea v Man City


By Sam Lyon
BBC Sport

Luke in Watford via text: “Chelsea back with a bang!”

David Kirkham on Twitter: “Invincible? I don’t think so! Only twopoints in it and everyone knows United hit form in Jan. Be afraid City, be very afraid.”

2156: Massive win. And maybe the title race is not a one-horse run after all. Man City are condemned to a first defeat of the season and see their lead at the top of the Premier League stay at two points, while Chelsea leapfrog Tottenham and Arsenal into third, seven points behind tonight’s opponents. Frustration for Man City but, dare I say, celebrations for Man Utd, Spurs, Arsenal and, of course, Chelsea.

Full time
2153: FULL-TIME Chelsea 2-1 Man City

90+3 mins: And still Chelsea control possession.

90+2 mins: Chelsea playing some lovely keep-ball here, Man City struggling to get on the ball to launch anything like a meaningful attack.

90+1 mins: We’ll have four minutes of injury time.

90 mins: Into the 90th minute and Chelsea are running down the clock in the Man City end with a couple of corners.

88 mins: My word the atmosphere is white hot at Stamford Bridge – and Man City are not giving this one up without a charge. Chelsea try to take the sting out of the game a touch with a substitution, John Mikel Obi replacing Daniel Sturridge.

Chief football writer Phil McNulty at Stamford Bridge: “Lots of body language and tic-tac from Andre Villas-Boas in the technical area now. On the brink of a very big victory.”

87 mins: …that James Milner curls over everyone and behind for a goal kick. Waste.

86 mins: My word. Who fancies a storming finale here? Mario Balotelli does – and he’s just earned Man City a free-kick in a dangerous area on the left of the Chelsea box…

85 mins: Man City change – Edin Dzeko on for Joleon Lescott.

84 mins: Chelsea change – Juan Mata replaced by Florent Malouda.

83 mins: Is that the goal that blows the title race wide open?

Chelsea goal: Big goal. Massive goal. I felt the script was written for a Frank Lampard winner and it looks like it just might have been, the midfielder stepping up to slam home a spot-kick after Joleon Lescott handled Daniel Sturridge’s shot.

82 mins: GOALFLASH Chelsea 2-1 Man City (Lampard pen)


80 mins: Half a Chelsea chance as Didier Drogba’s neat flick allows Ramires to prod goalwards – but it’s easily saved, and you have to say Chelsea have failed really to make their man advantage count for much at all so far. It’s not easy with City sitting every deeper, mind.

Yellow card
78 mins: We have our seventh yellow card of the match people after Didier Drogba fouls Pablo Zabaleta.

78 mins: I think we’re looking at one-way traffic for the duration now, folks. Can Chelsea break City down?

Anon via text: “I thought City would be a pack of wolves around a fallen mammoth tonight, but Chelsea are shaking them around, showing some tusks.”

76 mins: Is Man City boss Roberto Mancini setlling for a draw here? Defensive midfielder Nigel de Jong comes on to replace playmaker David Silva.

Yellow card
75 mins: Chelsea midfielder Ramires is the latest player to go into the referee’s notebook, this one for a heavy challenge on Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli.

BBC Radio 5 live
BBC Radio 5 live summariser Lee Dixon: “Manchester City have no out-ball. Every time they clear there are three or four Chelsea players surrounding their players, and it’s coming straight back into the danger area.”

73 mins: Yep, here comes Frank Lampard – the midfielder on for Chelsea goalscorer Raul Meireles. Lampard has scored five goals in his last nine Premier League matches against Man City, don’t you know. I’m just saying.

72 mins: A series of Chelsea crosses are easily dealt with by the Man City defence – and you have to think the hosts will have to be a lot more savvy than that.

71 mins: Into the last 20 minutes and this is all set up a grandstand finish. Frank Lampard anyone?

OptaJoe on Twitter: “3 – Manchester City have now been shown three red cards in their last six Premier League games. Rash.”

68 mins: A rare Man City foray forward since going down to 10 men, but after a good burst by David Silva, Mario Balotelli’s speculative effort from range is easily held by Chelsea keeper Petr Cech.

67 mins: Close! It’s a cracking delivery from the right by Jose Bosingwa, one that just begs to be turned in, but it drifts inches over Didier Drogba’s head in the centre of the area and Man City can breathe again.

Scudeyyy on Twitter: “Will there be a better chance all season for a team to beat Man City in the league?”

Chris in Milton Keynes via text: “Big opportunity for AVB to show the premier league what he has in his tactical locker! Playing at home against 10 men, Torres or Lampard could win this for him!”

Chief football writer Phil McNulty at Stamford Bridge: “Big test for Man City now. They’ve lost some discipline here but still plenty of character in Roberto Mancini’s side. Chelsea now sensing victory.”

64 mins: Man City striker Sergio Aguero is going to be the sacrificial lamb following that Gael Clichy red card, he is replaced by Kolo Toure who will sit in at right back. I think it’s fair to say Aguero was not a happy bunny about that.

Yellow card
63 mins: Harsh booking for Chelsea midfielder Oriol Romeu after a soft tackle on Mario Balotelli.

63 mins: Man City right on the back foot now – and it takes a fine block by Vincent Kompany to keep Ramires’s stinger from the edge of the area out of goal.

60 mins: It looks like Pablo Zabaleta has switched from the right to left back, with James Milner pushed back to full-back in response to that Gael Clichy red card. This could be a long half an hour for City.

Red card
Man City red card: I asked on 46 minutes whether that would be an important yellow card for Gael Clichy – and it has proven to be just that, the City full-back given his marching orders with a second booking for an ill-timed lunge at Ramires. The visitors must now play the remaining half an hour with 10 men.

58 mins: RED CARD, Gael Clichy, MAN CITY

56 mins: A break in play as Ramires receives some treatment after a heavy challenge – which might provide Man City with a little spell to work out how to combat Juan Mata, who has come to life in this half coming in off the flanks.

53 mins: Brilliant dribble by Juan Mata, ended by Vincent Kompany’s rash challenge – but no second booking is forthcoming. Let-off for the City defender.

52 mins: Good defending. Mario Balotelli looks to bamboozle Branislav Ivanovic with a dash down the right, but the Chelsea defender stands up well and clears the danger well. Cue moody Mario.

ChudeObuaya on Twitter: “Unlike Barca at the weekend, Man City look like they’re panicking. I don’t think that’s best in the world calibre.”

Ben at the Bridge via text: “Great atmosphere inside the ground, shame about the creativity at times, lacking real movement! Bring Torres on, he might just explode and score a couple.”

49 mins: Bright start to the half, this, from Chelsea – and in particular Daniel Sturridge. Man City not coping too well with the hosts now sitting off them and defending with two solid lines of four.

47 mins: Ooh. Terrible marking, decent strike – Juan Mata’s free-kick from deep finds Daniel Sturridge on the edge of the area completely unmarked, but the Chelsea man’s half-volley zips narrowly over.

Yellow card
46 mins: Could this be an important yellow card? Gael Clichy must face Daniel Sturridge on a booking for the rest of the half after hauling the Chelsea forward down rather cynically.

2103: So let’s see if it manages it. We’re back under way, Chelsea 1-1 Man City

StevieW0NDERFUL on Twitter: “If things keep up as they are we could have the game of the season in the second half.”

2100: Right… two goals, great football, a penalty that wasn’t given, red card let-offs for both sides… the second half has much to match.

George Williams on Twitter: “This is such an open game – this will end up 5-5 at this rate.”

Sam, Stoke via text: “How can city be aggrieved about Meireles after Toure slapped Mata?!”

footballingguru on Twitter: “Before the Chelsea goal, I was betting on a man city hammering. But now I reckon Chelsea will nick it.”

2055: Come on people! Time is running out for you to be published… by me! Tweet the commentary via #BBCFootball, Tweet me @sampatricklyon or text in via 81111 (UK). Get involved.

BBC Radio 5 live
BBC Radio 5 live summariser Lee Dixon: “Chelsea will be really pleased with it being 1-1, but Manchester City will be as disappointed as they have been all season as they should be 3-0 up. In midfield, Chelsea are getting four men in a line but they are not picking up the City men in the spaces behind them.”

Nigel Quelch on Twitter: “Ditched the high defensive line halfway through the 1st half and look how much better we look! COYB!”

Half time
2050: HALF-TIME Chelsea 1-1 Man City
Chief football writer Phil McNulty’s HT snap-shot from Stamford Bridge: “Enthralling first 45 minutes with Chelsea fighting hard to wrestle control from Manchester City after their superb start. Beautifully balanced.”

jeetpadaruth on Twitter: “Cracking game from a neutral point of view. No draws in this weekend’s Premier League – 2-2?”

2047: There’s your half-time whistle. Cracking half huh?

45+2 mins: Half a chance for Man City, Mario Balotelli’s cross flicked goalwards on the stretch by Sergio Aguero – but Petr Cech is across well to claim quite comfortable diving to his right.

45 mins: We’ll have two minutes of first-half stoppage time.

BBC Radio 5 live
BBC Radio 5 live summariser Lee Dixon: “Roberto Mancini even looks great in the wet, too. It really gets on my nerves!”

Charlie in Owens park via text: “Ding dong Meireles on high, the Christmas bells are ringing. Come on you Blues!!”

43 mins: Man City, with Chelsea sitting ever so deep in defence, are just starting to get their passing game clicking again.

Yellow card
41 mins: Man City looking a little rattled for the first time in the match and Vincent Kompany has his name taken for a cynical barge on Didier Drogba. Juan Mata curls the free-kick over everyone and behind for a goal kick, though.

39 mins: So despite enjoying a first half-hour more comfortable than a pair of Christmas slippers, Man City find themselves pegged back – and facing a Chelsea side with a renewed spring in their step too.

killjoybobert on Twitter: “How Meireles has got away with a yellow there is beyond me. That [tackle on Zabaleta] is a straight red all day long.”

Joe in London via text: “No hug for AVB unfortunately.”

BBC Radio 5 live
BBC Radio 5 live summariser Lee Dixon: “A fabulous bit of work on the right-hand side from the hosts there. That’s the first time Chelsea have got wide and round the back of the Manchester City back four.”

Yellow card
36 mins: First booking of the game – and it’s Chelsea goalscorer Raul Meireles for a late lunge at Pablo Zabaleta. Not a very nice tackle, that, and a deserved booking.

Chelsea goal: Well, they’re helping themselves now. John Terry finds Daniel Sturridge on the right and the former Man City man wriggles his way to the byeline before cutting back for Raul Meireles to fire home excellently on the volley. Game on.

34 mins: GOALFLASH Chelsea 1-1 Man City (Meireles)

33 mins: Chelsea continue to play it wild and reckless with their passing – and they’re not helping themselves tonight, they really aren’t.

Chief football writer Phil McNulty at Stamford Bridge: “Andre Villas-Boas having lots of touchline chat with his Chelsea players tonight: “And remember – if we score it’s straight over to me.”

29 mins: And Chelsea fans won’t like this – Didier Drogba has gone down following that effort feeling his left leg. After a bit of treatment, though, he’s back up and running.

28 mins: Chelsea just starting to get their foot on the ball at the moment and Didier Drogba fancies his luck from range, only to drag his low shot wide.

GregHeywood1 on Twitter: “I’m sorry but Yaya Toure has just kicked and then slapped Juan Mata, you simply cannot do that! It’s a blatant red card!”

Anon via text: “Maybe Chelsea should have gone out for a curry last night!”

25 mins: Chelsea chance! And by far their best effort of the half, Didier Drogba working a yard in the box and forcing Joe Hart into a smart stop low down at his near post. For all the visitors’ dominance, it only takes a moment of magic for Chelsea and they’re level here.

24 mins: City continue to pass and move their way through the Chelsea defence like a hot knife through butter – and the hosts are grateful this time that James Milner just over-runs the ball a touch having broken in behind the home backline.

22 mins: Deary me. Yaya Toure appears to have taken exception to Juan Mata for some reason and moments after flicking him with his boot while on the floor he throws his hands into the Spaniard’s face. Neither was too nasty, but still. Luckily for the City midfielder, Mark Clattenburg missed both incidents.

21 mins: Gael Clichy with a fabulous cross… Mario Balotelli inches away from getting on the end of it. Chelsea striving to weather the storm here.

BBC Radio 5 live
BBC Radio 5 live summariser Lee Dixon: “It’s men against boys at the minute. Chelsea do not have a foothold in this game and how many times have Vincent Kompany and Joleon Lescott been mentioned in the commentary?”

18 mins: Of course Man City are top quality on the ball – but their work ethic off of it is something to be equally admired as well. They’re not giving Chelsea a second here.

16 mins: …spooned 6,784 miles (give or take) over. Ho hum.

15 mins: Free-kick to Man City, 30 yards out, Mario Balotelli over it…

14 mins: It’s still Man City bang on top, though, and Chelsea are grateful to referee Mark Clatternburg that they’re not now staring down a penalty to the visitors. David Silva dances into the box and goes over Jose Bosingwa’s outstretched leg – but City’s appeals are waved away. I have to say, I think I’d have given it…

13 mins: This really is a match you don’t want to take your eyes off – it’s 100 miles an hour and starting to look rather end-to-end too. Love it.

Man City defender Micah Richards on Twitter: “Marioooooooo Balotelllliiiiiiiiiiiiii!”

11 mins: And then Sergio Aguero goes within inches of making it 2-0 on the counter, the Argentine bursting at the Chelsea defence, out-muscling his man to earn a yard inside the box, and then swiping just past the post left-footed.

10 mins: A rare spell of possession for Chelsea with Ashley Cole and Juan Mata combining well down the left before the play is switched and Raul Meireles’s long-ranger is deflected over the bar. Better from the hosts.

Chief football writer Phil McNulty at Stamford Bridge: “Manchester City’s goal was a thing of beauty in the creation and finish. Sergio Aguero’s turn and pass with the outside of his right foot was magnificent and the one place where the turbulent Mario Balotelli is calmness personified is in front of goal.”

BBC Radio 5 live
BBC Radio 5 live summariser Lee Dixon: “John Terry thinks he does the right thing by getting close to Sergio Aguero for the goal, but it was such a good turn that the rest of the back four didn’t come across in time and there was that gap for Aguero to find Mario Balotelli with an exquisite through ball.”

7 mins: Ooh, Mario Balotelli almost returns the favour for Sergio Aguero with a delightful slide-rule pass that for a moment looks like releasing the Argentine – only for Jose Bosingwa to snatch back possession with an outstretched leg. Close.

6 mins: I’ll tell you this, Man City have started this match with imperious confidence. Stroking the ball about brilliantly, composed and patient in their play… Chelsea are hanging on a touch in these early stages.

4 mins: A start that couldn’t have been further from Chelsea’s plans then, I’d wager. What response from the boys in blue?

Man City goal: What a start! You can’t keep this man out of the headlines – and Mario Balotelli has made his mark in this game inside two minutes, running on to Sergio Aguero’s fabulous through-ball, rounding the keeper, and slotting in. Flyer.

2 mins: GOALFLASH Chelsea 0-1 Man City (Balotelli)

2000: Here we go then, up and running at Stamford Bridge.

Shaun on Twitter: “Eight pairs?! These are the 22 most pampered people in the country. I’m going 22 pairs, not including goalies.”

BBC Radio 5 live
BBC Radio 5 live summariser Lee Dixon: “Mario Balotelli is made for a game like this. One of the things that he does well is stand still. He stands there and you wonder what he’s doing but he unnerves defenders, and he will probably be quiet for 20 minutes and then he will do something you don’t expect.”

Mike, Hull via text: “Man Utd actually only managed 4th in the 85 86 season…”

bary2102 on Twitter: “AVB is really stamping his authourity, Lampard on the bench for a match of this magnitude says it all”

BBC Radio 5 live
BBC Radio 5 live summariser Lee Dixon: “When I’ve watched them play, Manchester City’s Micah Richards and Pablo Zabaleta like to get forward and that means they can be got at, and the back four can be got at. It’s interesting to see the team sheet, with three midfield players, that solidness, with the attacking three of ahead of them. They are not the City of old, they look to attack and that means you can get at them on the counter.”

Jaemin Wildz on Twitter: “If Drogba plays like he did against Valencia and Sturridge did against newcastle we’ll win.”

It’s raining
1956: I can tell you lot, by the way, it is absolutely sheeting it down at Stamford Bridge – and with a strong wind, too, conditions are best described as horrid. Anyone fancy glove-watch bingo? I’m going with eight pairs.

1954: Right, with kick-off drawing ever nearer, why not take the opportunity to drop me a line? Tweet the commentary via #BBCFootball, Tweet me @sampatricklyon or text in via 81111 (UK). Let’s keep this bad boy cooking on gas.

Dave Smart on Twitter: “If Chelsea can stifle City like Liverpool did then they have a chance, but not sure City would settle for a point tonight.”

1949: CHELSEA v MAN CITY (2000)
Chief football writer Phil McNulty at Stamford Bridge: “Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini insists Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas must be given time to put his stamp on Stamford Bridge, saying: ‘He’s a good manager. It’s difficult to change everything in two or three months,’ – but Villas-Boas has already made it clear defeat to City is not an option as he said: ‘It becomes extremely difficult if we lose. Thirteen points is a big deficit to recover. Not impossible, but that’s the reality.’ Game on.”

Bod via text: “Don’t forget Man Utd didn’t win the title in 85-86 despite collecting 41 points from the first 15 games.”
Good work that Bod, very good work. Now stop stealing my thunder.

Callum on Twitter: “Got to feel for Frank Lampard at the moment. He’s found some of his best form for a while but is still left out in the cold…”

Sammy’s Stat
STAT ATTACK: Chelsea are unbeaten in their last 23 Premier League matches at Stamford Bridge in the month of December, a run that stretches back eight years – since a 2-1 defeat to Bolton in December 2003.

1944: And here’s another one to keep an eye on tonight, people – Daniel Sturridge. The striker was allowed to leave Manchester City as a youngster – something that still baffles current manager Roberto Mancini – went and signed for Chelsea, and could now return to haunt his former club in a big, big way if he can continue the form that has seen him score in his last three league games. All that money and City let him slip through their fingers… oopsa-daisy.

Claire Scott on Twitter: “City must be shaking in their boots after that last STAT ATTACK…”

Joe in Bicester via text: “Man City thrash Man United, Man United thrash Arsenal, Arsenal Thrash Chelsea…. Chelsea thrash Man City? It makes sense.”

1940: Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini: “I don’t know if it is possible [to get the same result – a 6-1 win – as at Manchester United], it will be difficult game but we want to try to win. The approach will be the same for every game, if we want to stay on the top of the table. Chelsea is always a good team.”

1937: Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas: “We always set ourselves to win the game and that’s what we will try to do. Avoiding defeat will be good because it will keep our Premier League title hopes alive. Defeat for us makes Manchester City’s title challenge strong and makes it a 13-point gap. But nobody thought we would win the Champions League game against Valencia, and that’s what we did.”

tom careless on Twitter: “If we get three points tonight I’ll give AVB that cuddle. As many cuddles as he wants. Not like that.”

Sammy’s Stat
STAT ATTACK: Chelsea are the only team to use all three substitutes in every Premier League game this season – in total they have made 42 substitutions.

Adam Collins on Twitter: “Actually think AVB has lost the plot and is out of his depth, now I’ve said that Chelsea will win 4-0 tonight.”

Anon via text: “Who just texted in to accuse bosingwa of being devoid of pace??? Usain Bolt, presumably…”

Leigh Myers on Twitter: “The two benches tonight could challenge for the title!”

1934: If you lot fancy tuning into Five Live tonight, by the way, don’t forget you can get to it through this page if you give it a cheeky refresh. And this post is in no way related to the fact that a refresh will also correct the team for whom Joey Barton now plays, obviously. Ah come on… you’ll miss me when I’m gone.

1932: CHELSEA v MAN CITY (2000)
Chief football writer Phil McNulty at Stamford Bridge: “So Frank Lampard has to be content with a place on the Chelsea bench again, accompanied by a more regular occupant in Fernando Torres, as manager Andre Villas-Boas makes just the one enforced change from the team that beat Valencia, with Jose Bosingwa replacing the suspended David Luiz. Manchester City make three changes, with Pablo Zabaleta, James Milner and Mario Balotelli coming in for Stefan Savic, Samir Nasri and Edin Dzeko.”

1928: Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini, meanwhile, has been there, done it and designed the t-shirt when it comes to dealing with criticism and the big bad media in his two years at the club. His thoughts on Andre Villas-Boas’s rant? “When you manage a top club, you must expect criticism,” he said with a smile. “This is our life.” And what a tough life it is. *Cough*. I still reckon he’d like a cuddle, mind.

MattCitehHorlock on Twitter: “Just feel that this could be the banana skin that upsets city’s season.”

Anon via text: “Chelsea fan here. Bosingwa will fit in well with the rest of our back 4 tonight. Devoid of pace and unable to defend.”

Ryan March on Twitter: “Guarantee Chelsea have never had quite so many fans as they do tonight. I can’t believe I’m saying it but c’mon Chelsea?”

1925: So Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas; has he lost his discos or is he just creating the kind of “us-against-them” philosophy that Jose Mourinho so favoured at the Bridge? He’s hit out at the press, at Gary Neville, at Alan Pardew… and now he’s ordering his players to make a point of celebrating with him after every time they score. He’s either a genius or very much in need of a cuddle. Thoughts?

QPR midfielder Joey Barton on Twitter: “Looking forward to City v Chelsea tonight. Big test for champions elect…”

Sammy’s Stat
STAT ATTACK: Man City have scored 48 Premier League goals so far this season – the most by any top flight club after 14 games since Tottenham (49) in 1962-63.

1923: CHELSEA v MAN CITY (2000)
Chelsea: Cech, Bosingwa, Ivanovic, Terry, Cole, Ramires, Romeu, Meireles, Sturridge, Drogba, Mata. Subs: Turnbull, Lampard, Torres, Mikel, Malouda, Ferreira, Kalou.
Man City: Hart, Zabaleta, Lescott, Kompany, Clichy, Milner, Toure Yaya, Barry, Silva, Aguero, Balotelli. Subs: Pantilimon, Dzeko, Johnson, Savic, Nasri, Toure, De Jong.
Referee: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear)

Daniel Helliwell on Twitter: “No Micah Richards for City could be key to tonight’s proceedings! Mata against Zabaleta is where the game will be won and lost.”

Anon via text: “I’m kinda worried about tonight. Chelsea win or draw they go ahead of us (Arsenal) but there will be less pressure on us if Chelsea DO win.”

1920: CHELSEA v MAN CITY (2000)
Chief football writer Phil McNulty at Stamford Bridge: “Tonight Chelsea provide the latest test of Manchester City’s title credentials – while Roberto Mancini’s side will provide an examination of the recovery Andre Villas-Boas believes is under way at Stamford Bridge after victories against Newcastle United and Valencia. City can go five points clear at the top of the Premier League – and open up a 13-point lead over Chelsea – with victory tonight so make no mistake, the stakes are high.”

1918: I know, it’s a beauty isn’t it. Anyway, here’s our man at Stamford Bridge then – chief football writer Phil McNulty…