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Mourinho Chooses To Split The Points, So Chelsea Splits The Points

More often than not, if Jose Mourinho wants a draw, he gets a draw. His Chelsea side, the best defensive team in the Premier League by statistics and common sense, packed it in and unsurprisingly split the points with Manchester City on Saturday. This stalemate was similar to Chelsea's 0-0 draw with Manchester United early last season (before we knew David Moyes's team wasn't any good). It felt like a point for the sake of the campaign.

So, of course City manager Manuel Pelligrini was salty afterward.

Not only did Chelsea dictate the pace of a dull 1-1 draw in London, but Mourinho got under the skin of an opposing manager. That's his most desirable outcome for any day of the year. That quote probably makes Mourinho feel like he's walking into his grandma's kitchen on Thanksgiving. 

Without Diego Costa - who's serving a three-match ban for being the most ornery Diego Costa he could be against Liverpool in the Capital One Cup - Mourinho had little incentive to open up the game and give City the chance to slice his league lead to two. Mourinho's as cool a game and season manager as there is in the world, never getting caught up in the pageantry of one day if it means sacrificing the final outcome of the year, and he showed that side of him once again Saturday.

But man, what a wasted opportunity for Manchester City. Chelsea were playing without Cesc Fabregas and Costa, and even though City were missing Yaya Toure and WIlfried Bony (both are currently playing at the African Cup of Nations), this was as good a chance as any for Pellegrini's team to close the gap and add some real pressure to the title race. City just couldn't manufacture many chances at all, though. Sergio Aguero was quiet, and Frank Lampard didn't do any damage as a substitute, playing his first game at Chelsea since leaving the club this past offseason.

So, Mourinho once again got the result he wanted, even if it took blowing a lead to get there. Chelsea keep their breathing room over City in the table - a cool five points - and can afford more than one slip up in the remaining 15 games of the season. 

A few more observations from the 1-1 draw:

1. City's defense snoozed on Chelsea's goal.

Bacary Sagna, starting in place of Pablo Zabaleta, fell into a deep sleep in the buildup to Chelsea's first goal and allowed Eden Hazard to drift in behind him. Hazard played a perfect ball to the center of the six-yard area, where City's struggling VIncent Kompany made a please-god-no-not-an-own-goal slide and let the ball through. Loic Remy easily finished the play for a 1-0 Chelsea lead, and Mourinho looked like he might get rewarded for his defensive tactics with all three points.

2. James Milner was his usual workhorse.

A few minutes later, just before halftime, Milner, the City midfielder, used a slashing run to pull a defender with him and bait Chelsea keeper Thibaut Courtois off his goal line. Milner missed the cross, but so did Courtois on his punch attempt, and the ball fell to an open Sergio Aguero, who banked it off David Silva's foot and in for the equalizer. It's hindsight, of course, but I'm not sure how City would have found a tying goal after halftime if they were trailing. Chelsea's just too good defensively with the lead in important games.

3. Chelsea's remaining fixtures are fine...just fine.

Chelsea supporters should be thrilled with the remaining schedule. Eight of Chelsea's last 15 matches are at home and their toughest road match is at West Ham United. As many thought when the season started, this is still Chelsea's title to lose, and Mourinho ensured it would stay that way, as he almost always does. With a lead, the Blues are tough to beat.

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