Russian Oil: In 2003 a Russian billionaire by the name of Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea F.C. for a record 140 million pounds. Abramovich by the way is a bad and scary dude. Most businessmen with his wealth are shady people as it is, but add to the shadiness the fact that he is in Russia, where I don't even think murder is considered a crime. Anyways, prior to his purchase of the club, Chelsea had had recent small success in the Premier League. In the 2002/2003 season Chelsea finished 4th and qualified for the Champions League. So they weren't a terrible team before the purchase, but they also hadn't won a league title since the 1954/1955 season. Abramovich pretty much followed the Yankees, Real Madrid and many other professional sporting clubs and came up with a pretty simple and straightforward business plan for success: outspend everyone. Sadly for the fan, most players aren't terribly loyal to their club and most players will follow the almighty dollar (or pound). For every 1 player that might take less money to play with his desired club, there are at least 12 of equal skill that will follow the money anywhere, especially to a team like Chelsea that was already pretty good. So Abramovich started buying up players like crazy. Chelsea won back to back league titles in the first two years of Abramovich's reign. Since then, they haven't won any titles, but they have finished in the top 4 each season and played in the Champions League each season. Two years ago they lost in the Champions League finals to Manchester United, and last year they were literally seconds away to going back to the finals until Iniesta and Barcelona shoved a dagger in their heart with a winning goal in extra time (the announcer in that clip is awesome. Still gives me chills hearing/watching it).
This year is starting off as well as the others under Abramovich's control. Chelsea are currently in first place in the Premier League and have already qualified for the knock-out rounds of the Champions League. They have a team full of players that all play for their country's national team and are literally the best of the best. The players that ride the bench for Chelsea could all start at other clubs only they choose to stay at Chelsea because Chelsea is so good and because, well, as mentioned, they sold their soul and part of their career for the money. That dollar is powerful.
Arab Oil: In 2008 Abu Dhabi United Group Investment and Development Limited took over Manchester City. Fortunately for them, they swim in oil and money isn't an issue in their lives because unlike Chelsea, prior to the recent acquisition of Manchester City, the club was not really close to competing for the league title. Between 2002 and this season, Manchester City finished as low as 16th and as high as 8th. Never a bad team, but always second fiddle in their own city to the powerhouse that is Manchester United. City has been decent, but never close to competing for the league title or qualifying for the Champions League.
Arab Oil also noted that men, soccer players included, want money and figured they could follow Chelsea and buy the best players and championships. The only problem is that while players do want money, they also want to play for a contender, which is something Manchester City was not. Fortunately there was a young Brazilian superstar (shown in photo) who was crying in Madrid because he got his feelings hurt and he was ripe for being bought. Manchester City swooped in, and the process had begun. Other players took note that City had acquired a legit player and within a year they have stockpiled a team full of great players. Ironically, the team got so good that the Brazilian once again got upset that he wasn't playing and said he wanted to leave. Someone gave him his bottle though and it appears he will likely be sticking around.
So on Saturday the Russian Oil (Chelsea) met the newly improved Arab Oil (Man City) for the first time this season and for the first time since Man City made all the player acquisitions. As mentioned, Chelsea has been dominant this season. Man City hasn't been bad, but not quite meeting expectations either. They are currently in 6th place, which is an improvement, but prior to Saturday's game, they had tied 7 games in a row. After all the many player purchases, 6th place just isn't good enough.
But on Saturday they proved that $200 million sure can buy you a lot these days, including a pretty good football team. Chelsea played well, but Man City proved that they can compete with the big boys. Everyone knew that Man City had the pieces to be a true contender this season, but they had yet to prove anything. Saturday they did so in exciting fashion. The game wasn't without controversy of course (what's a good soccer game without some drama?). Adebayor scored for Man City after the ball hit a teammate's hand and play probably should have been stopped. But Chelsea's first goal came from an own goal from Adebayor, so I'm fine with the missed call since Chelsea didn't really deserve their goal in the first place. Plus, Chelsea had the opportunity to later tie the game after Chelsea's forward Didier Drogba was fouled inside the box. The penalty kick however was skillfully blocked by Man City's goalie. The block was so good in fact that he received a kiss from his teammate - as shown in the video below. Chelsea had their opportunities, but didn't capitalize and Man City did.
So hats off to Manchester City. Whether or not you agree with how they got here, they are here and are commanding respect. They took a page out of Chelsea's book and beat them by using their strategy. The real test of course will be when the two teams collide later in the season at Chelsea. Chelsea has yet to lose at home and the season will be in the final stages and every game will be that much more important. Both teams will be competing for the league championship and/or to qualify for the Champions League. At that point we will for sure know if Arab oil is better than Russian oil and good enough to buy a championship.