Early goals don’t mean anything these days, as Manchester City, like Real Madrid, had to learn. A painful lesson in Stamford Bridge, as Mario Balotelli’s opening strike was cancelled by Raul Meireles. Frank Lampard played the super sub role for Chelsea, scoring the winner from the penalty spot, handing City their first league defeat of the season.

With the win, Chelsea are back in the top 3, seven points behind Manchester City, five behind United. Life for Andre Villas-Boas looks a lot happier these last few days, with the two 3-0 wins over Newcastle and Valencia. Now comes the most prestigious win of them all, so far at least.

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Chelsea were the better side, except for the first 60 seconds. Sergio Aguero shredded the Londoners defense, finding Mario Balotelli, who gave us another match of showing his ability to score a goal and then go on to produce nothing for the next 89 minutes. Truly, a wonder of the modern world.

For Chelsea, more hard work that’s been put by the players gave results. Daniel Sturridge showed his youth club (one of them at least) that great players don’t have to cost £20 million, building up the Meireles goal. For the former Liverpool midfielder and the player who nudged Frank Lampard out of the lineup spot, it was this first Chelsea goal.

Still, the best was saved for last, and for Frank Lampard. Lampard doesn’t score pretty goals. He just scores important ones. In a season that seems to be an AVB attempt to push the most prolific midfield scorer in the Premier League for a decade to the edge of the bench, Lampard proved his worth once again. He came on for Meireles, and drove in the winner. One of those winners that can push a team to new heights in a season that has had it’s share of ugly moments for Chelsea.

Manchester City are showing signs of trouble. Losing two big away matches in just over two weeks. The gap from United is two points. Still favorites to win the Premier League, but things don’t look so easy now. The draw at Liverpool, and a red hot Arsenal coming up pretty soon. Gael Clichy got sent off, and City’s ability to dominate in the midfield and find ways to win when David Silva is having an off day has to come out at some point. Otherwise, all this unbeaten league streak was just useless foreplay.