THE DATA DAY: CHELSEA V MANCHESTER CITY
An entertaining game at Stamford Bridge yesterday was eventually decided in our favour by Fernando Torres's last-minute winner, and it comes as no surprise it took a mistake to settle what the statistics suggest was a very even game…
An excellent first-half performance from the Blues saw us lead by just a solitary goal at the interval, Torres's direct running setting up Andre Schurrle for the opener. The Spaniard had an eventful game from start to finish, with his excellent assist one of eight attempted take-ons, comfortably the highest number of any player on the pitch.
Torres proved a handful for the City defence both on the deck and in the air. He won three of his five aerial duels, the most on the pitch, and was also fouled more often than other player - four times - highlighting the threat he posed to our opponents. The striker's three attempts on goal produced mixed results: the first blazed over, the second a glorious effort that struck the bar and the third the decisive goal. He pounced on a defensive mix-up for the winner, as Matija Nastasic attempted to complete what would have been City's eighth successful back-pass of the game.
City levelled four minutes after half-time and, the stats suggest, shaded the second half. We created twice as many chances in the opening 45 than after the interval, whereas City had seven shots in the second 45 compared to just four in the first period.
Our opponents were successful in seven of their 10 take-ons after the break, compared to two in six before, while they were forced into only six clearances during an improved second-half showing, compared to 14 earlier in the game.
We combatted City's attacking threat with some impressive tackling, winning 15 of our 22 tackles after the interval. We also managed more ball recoveries in that time. Ramires was once again inspired in that department, for the third time in a week recovering the ball more than any other player on the pitch.
Branislav Ivanovic also produced an impressive performance, contributing both offensively and defensively throughout. He was successful in 80% of his five take-ons, all in the City half - the best percentage of any player - and also made three crosses in the final third. The Serbian was pivotal at the back, too, winning all his tackles and successfully clearing the ball on four occasions.
For the first time in almost two years it was Chelsea who emerged triumphant against Manchester City. We had failed to beat the Citizens in five games since a 2-1 win in December 2011, but Torres's winner ensured we maintain our 100% record at Stamford Bridge this season. Indeed, since losing to QPR on the second day of this calendar year, we have dropped just four points at home in 2013.