ESPN FC: Chelsea's grades vs. Man City
Chelsea new boy Nemanja Matic believes the meticulous planning put in place by manager Jose Mourinho was crucial to the 1-0 victory against Manchester City on Monday night.
The Blues' success in nullifying the potent scoring threat of City and creating chances aplenty at the other end of the field was a triumph no other visiting team has managed in the Premier League at the Etihad Stadium this season.
And Matic, who re-signed for Chelsea from Benfica in January, has said Mourinho was central to the success. “We prepared very well, the manager showed us some videos of Man City to show their quality and where we could capitalise on their mistakes,” he told the club's official website.
Every player knew what he had to do at every moment in order to get the result. It was very important for us and we now have more confidence because it’s not easy to play against Manchester City. They are a strong team and they play very quickly.
“We showed we can compete with any team, we scored one goal and I felt we could have scored more because we had some great opportunities, but sometimes one goal is enough to win.”
The efficiency of Matic’s holding midfield partnership with David Luiz in the victory at City suggests that combination could become a feature of the Chelsea game plan from this point forward.
While it may be natural for Chelsea to believe they have struck a decisive blow against their title rivals by completing a Premier League double over City, Luiz has offered some perspective to their most complete display of the season to date.
“We need to keep working hard and keep our feet on the floor,” said the Brazilian. “It was just one more game and three points. You have to improve every day if you want to win the title.
“It was a difficult game against a strong team. Both teams created a lot of opportunities, Man City have scored many goals in their last few games but we stopped them and it was good for us.
“When you play against a strong team like Man City you can feel the importance, but in terms of the table it’s just another three points, that’s the truth.”
Many critics have long suggested Luiz would be more effective in a deep-lying midfield role than the central defensive position he has generally occupied in his career -- but the Brazilian is content to play wherever he is asked by Mourinho.
“I love to play for Chelsea, I love to play football, it doesn’t matter if I play in midfield or defence,” said Luiz. “I’m just lucky to play for a big club and it’s nice when you can play with very good players like Matic.”