Gary Neville, Jamie Carragher and Jamie Redknapp are not happy.
The Sky Sports pundits slammed Chelsea for their defensive approach against Man City, in the same manner they criticised Newcastle’s tactics against Pep Guardiola’s side earlier this season.
Both games ended 1-0 but it could have been much worse, particularly for Rafa Benitez’s troops.
City had 15 shots at goal in the first half, more than they’ve managed in the first 45 minutes of a game all season.
Were it not for Rob Elliot making a couple of fine saves and Sergio Aguero’s rare display of merciful wastefulness, Newcastle could have easily been 4-0 down at the break.
Similarly, City completed more passes against Chelsea than any Premier League team since 2003/04.
On both occasions, City’s opponents set up to contain and showed little desire to commit men forward.
And for Neville and co, the bus parking has become tiresome.
The former Man United right-back criticised Newcastle’s tactics while on commentary, saying: “I also don’t think we should just sit and accept that first 30 minutes.
“No ambition from Newcastle. That’s not acceptable in this league.”
Carragher followed suit on punditry duty, saying: “It is becoming an embarrassment, the Premier League. It’s a joke.”
“The teams at the top are so far ahead that the teams at the bottom are accepting they’re going to lose the game and long as its by one or two — they’re not going to give it a go.”
“The Premier League over the years has been built on every team having a go. That’s why everyone around the world wants to watch it.
“Will they continue watching it? It’s a sad state of affairs for the Premier League.”
Redknapp described Chelsea’s performance as ‘a crime against football’ in a lengthy damning rant.
Now, we take their point about the entertainment value, we’d all love to see wide, open games with plenty of forwards on both sides.
And yes, that clip of the Chelsea players standing still, refusing to press City as they pass it around as if the ball was dead, is rather ridiculous.
But there’s a reason teams set up they way they do against City.
This team that Guardiola has forged is very special — given space to operate in, they will tear opponents apart.
Spurs showed a willingness to commit men forward at the Etihad and they got beat 4-1, with Gabriel Jesus failing to make it five from the penalty spot.
The pace of Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling, and the vision and passing range of David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne, mean City are equipped to exploit space in the opposition’s half.
Teams aren’t attacking City with all guns blazing because they don’t want to get caught on the counter and lose 10-0.
That’s not even much of an exaggeration.
Sure, parking the bus hasn’t worked particularly well against them either but that says more about the quality of City’s attacking unit than it does the tactical approach of their opposition.
Carragher seemed to indicate there’s no difference between losing 1-0 to 5-0 — there is, goal difference.
Plus, you never know what can happen from set-pieces with the score at 1-0.
Neville and Carragher can’t expect teams to offer themselves up for slaughter for the sake of the league’s global appeal.
Newcastle may have been thoroughly outplayed but not many relegation threatened teams have got away with just a 1-0 loss at the hands of City this season.
And Chelsea may be the reigning champions but they were 22 points adrift of City before kick-off, of course they would have taken a draw at the Etihad.
If a team were to show plenty of ambition against City and end up losing 6-0, you can bet that Neville and/or Carragher would describe such an approach as ‘naive’ before highlighting the lack of cover for each of the goals.
With six teams within four points of the relegation zone, the fight for survival could well come down to goal difference.
There’s also £5million difference between places in the Premier League, goal difference could be crucial in determining the finances for teams in the competitive bottom half.
Maybe then settling for a 1-0 loss to one of the most dominant teams in Premier League history wouldn’t seem like such a ‘joke’ after all.