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Big season finale for City and Chelsea


The FA Cup semifinal tie over the weekend between Man City and Chelsea provided an enthralling spectacle. I am sure many neutrals were hoping that Chelsea could snatch a late equaliser and send the game into extra time.

There was some great talent on show from both sides. Mata, Hazard, Ba, Oscar and the sub Torres were there for Chelsea while City could call on the power of Yaya Toure, Vincent Kompany and the twin strike force of Tevez and Aguero. These are players who make you recall why you loved the game in the first place.

With such talent available to these teams, one might ask why they performed so poorly in the Champions League, going out in the group stages. Also, how come they have not provided sterner competition to runaway League leaders Manchester United?

This season finale is going to be very interesting at the Etihad and at Stamford Bridge.

Manchester City's owners and those who make the football decisions must be asking if the capital outlay over the last three seasons has been duly rewarded. On the face of it, one league title and maybe two FA Cups can be counted as reasonable in three seasons.

However, two back-to-back first round exits at the Champions League and a really tame defence of the league title, won on goal difference the previous season, does not sound very good at all.

The City manager has moaned a lot about missing out on Robin van Persie but the perceived wisdom has always been that the Dutchman never considered joining Man City. Having said that, when you still have Dzeko, Aguero, Tevez and, at the start of the season, Mario Balotelli you will struggle to make a case for being short of options.

City have not built on being Champions and the manager has to take responsibility for this. Right from the start of this season, City looked like a team uncomfortable with being champions. Tactically, the swapping of Nigel de Jong for Javi Garcia made no sense at all. The pursuit and eventual capture of Scot Sinclair and then NOT using him was another puzzle.

Some of the players need to have a good look at themselves as they have performed well below what was expected of them. Samir Nasri and Joe Hart in goal seemed content with being champions while Dzeko was not in the mood to be a perpetual super sub. Or it just might be that Man City's squad is just not deep enough in terms of equal talent on the bench.

Chelsea's situation can probably be explained. Chelsea is a team that has been in transition for the last three seasons at least. In each of those seasons they have won silverware that has papered over the cracks.

This season they started well, with good results at the Emirates and White Hart Lane. Then they lost a combustible encounter at home to Manchester United. The row that came out of that match helped push then coach Di Matteo out. I mentioned at the time in my previous blogs that it might. Di Matteo left and Rafa Benitez joined and there was more turmoil with the fans, who clearly did not want the Spaniard.

It seems that transition at Chelsea has gathered pace and poor Rafa Benitez has been given the task of carrying it through. He has done it by rarely using John Terry and Frank Lampard in key matches, despite clamour by the English press.

The Spaniard is not staying beyond this season but he has clearly done the hard work for whoever takes over from him - phasing out some of the old guard.

Chelsea, though, still had enough talent in the team to have made a better fist of challenging the two Manchester clubs. Instead, they are locked in a three-way battle with London rivals Arsenal and Spurs for the two Champions League qualification slots.

In the meantime, Manchester United continue their march towards a 20th league title despite the blip of the Manchester derby defeat. There is life left in the Premier League yet.

I am on Twitter: @CalvinEmeka


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