Manchester City showed a tactical naivety heading into their home clash against fellow Premier League challenging Chelsea on Monday, February 3 at the Etihad Stadium as they played 'right into Jose Mourinho's hands'.
That is the view of Joey Barton, 31, a defensive shield currently employed by Queens Park Rangers and formerly of Newcastle United and City, who added that Mourinho's utilisation of a counter-attack policy, combined with the superb displays returned by Nemanja Matic, David Luiz and Eden Hazard, were the differences in what was a convincing win for Chelsea, who now have amassed the same points haul as the side they defeated last night.
Defender Branislav Ivanovic struck the game's sole goal - a powerful first half shot struck from outside the box with his weaker foot and Chelsea even threatened throughout the second half to double their lead.
There was an emerging opinion in the press that Mourinho may adopt precisely the same tactic he so abhorred West Ham United boss Sam Allardyce using against him, when the Blues tied the Irons 0-0 in a performance Mourinho labeled '19th century'. There was nothing out-dated about Jose's football in Manchester, though, as Chelsea were simply the better prepared team, playing the superior football.
Mourinho has long protested against Chelsea's title chances talked up by bookmakers and the media, particularly because he is vying for the crown against Manuel Pellegrini, who commands an expensively-assembled band of superstars with quality competition for places in every position.
Those superstars - Sergio Aguero, Alvaro Negredo, David Silva, Yaya Toure and Vincent Kompany - have been responsible for a plethora of high scoring victories, accumulating a seemingly invincible aura in the process; something Barton said has now been 'destroyed' by The Happy One from Stamford Bridge…
We are currently enjoying a Mourinho masterclass on counter-attacking. City playing right into his hands.— Joseph Barton (@Joey7Barton) February 3, 2014
A season to build the aura. 45 minutes from Mourinho to show their vulnerability. Fernandinho loss hurt them. Demichelis all over the shop!— Joseph Barton (@Joey7Barton) February 3, 2014
Matic currently out Toure-ing Yaya Toure. Won't see many do that. Bigger, stronger and quicker than him. Must be 6'4+...— Joseph Barton (@Joey7Barton) February 3, 2014
Mourinho. Tip of the hat to you Sir. Tactically exceptional. Still think City win the title. That's the difference a top coach makes.— Joseph Barton (@Joey7Barton) February 3, 2014
Hazard MOTM by a mile. Matic and Luiz controlled the engine room. Hazard added the class on the break.— Joseph Barton (@Joey7Barton) February 3, 2014
image: © Jason Bagley