Yet when taking into account the team sheets for both sides. Guus Hiddink named a strong side, a side that many would expect to see during any given Premier League or Champions League game. Whereas Manuel Pellegrini’s side resembled a team in an under-21 match, with only five of the 11 regular first team players, six including Kelechi Iheanacho.
Chelsea fans may be wanting to boast about this victory, but it is a win that they should have gained considering the difference in experience that the Blues had over the youthful City side.
For a number of years the domestic trophies have given top flight managers platforms to try out the younger players in their squads. Allowing vital game time to up and coming stars as weaker opposition provide less of a challenge for inexperienced players.
Yet it is unusual to see more than one when coming up against a side the quality of Chelsea. Pellegrini put it down to his side’s hectic fixture list, forcing him to rotate his side significantly. Whatever his reasons were, the young players needed to grasp their opportunity, and particularly in the first half, they did.
Aleix Garcia was given a role similar to John Obi Mikel the young midfielder was tasked with trying to break down the Chelsea offence and feed the ball into the more forward thinking City players.
For most of the first half Chelsea were struggling to play around the Spaniard as his energetic performance saw him cover a lot of ground, closing down players and playing influential passes from deep.
David Faupala was the goal scorer for the visitors and right from the start and the 19-year old showed his intent right from the start, skipping past experienced defenders Gary Cahill and Branislav Ivanovic to force a save from Thibaut Courtois.
Combining well with Iheanacho, the Frenchman then saw himself given the ball six yard away from goal, and scored his first senior goal on his debut.
We have had the privilege of watching Iheanacho develop this season into a fine and very promising young player. The Nigerian came into this match having scored three goals against struggling Aston Villa in the previous FA Cup match, and set up Faupala’s goal in this match. It remains to be seen how far the 19-year old will go with City, but he has certainly shown talent in his breakthrough campaign.
Eden Hazard has suffered the most during Chelsea’s torrid season. The Belgian has spent time on the bench and time out injured, and for the most part on the pitch he has been disappointing.
Hazard had the opportunity to really show the talent that he still possess in this game and he produced a top performance. Assisting the first two goals and then slotting a free kick into the bottom corner.
His team mates want him to perform, it must be awful to see a player that you could rely on to pull you through games struggle so much. There were constant applause and noticeable camaraderie when the 25-year old was on the ball, and more often than not he justified the support producing fantastic passes and creating chances.
The support came to fruition when Willian, the man who constantly produces magic from free kicks, encouraged Hazard to take the free kick in his place. The winger stepped up and made it count.
Oscar had the chance to score from the spot but missed his opportunity with a woefully weak effort. After the match Cesc Fabregas stated that Hazard should have been the man to take the penalty, further emphasising the amount of support that Hazard receives from his team mates. This will be vital if he is to ever return to his former self.