Sunday 21st September – 16:00 – Etihad Stadium
Manchester City face another tough game for the second week in succession in the Premier League, and it follows a tough Champions League encounter on Wednesday. Last weekend they drew 2-2 at Arsenal, whilst they were beaten in the last minute at Bayern Munich – Jerome Boateng’s volley winning it at the death for Pep Guardiola’s men. Chelsea also faced a German side in the Champions League, when Schalke 04 visited Stamford Bridge. Cesc Fabregas’ first goal for the Blues was cancelled out by Klaas-Jan Huntelaar’s goal in a 1-1 draw – the first time Chelsea have dropped points so far this season after they started the Premier League with four wins out of four meaning that they sit top of the table. Both teams face home Capital One ties against Championship opposition next Wednesday – but should still field their strongest possible sides at the Etihad in this massive early season encounter.
The Key Battle: David Silva vs Cesc Fabregas
David Silva could be described as invaluable to Manchester City, as the 28 year old is at the heartbeat of every attacking move, which has become even more important this season with Yaya Toure off form.
Anyone who has watched City in the past few seasons during Silva’s occasional absences can attest to how turgid City’s offense becomes when they try to run it through some combination of Samir Nasri, Toure and the like.
City get to the final third well enough without Silva. Thereafter, though, they rarely find that last pass that creates a goal without the diminutive Spaniard.
The same could be said for his compatriot Cesc Fabregas, who has made a blistering start to his Chelsea career. After getting six assists in his first four Premier League games, the former Arsenal midfielder bagged his first Blues goal against Schalke on Wednesday.
Fabregas will bide his time and is patient in picking out the truly decisive final pass. It’s his countryman Silva who is perhaps the 27 year old’s closest rival when it comes to the crowning of the Premier League’s greatest traditional playmaker, and it’s arguably the reason their two sides are expected to finish clear of the rest and why this key battle will be the most intriguing to watch so far.
As I have DofE this weekend, I am writing this team news on Thursday, three days before the match, so this information may well change.
- Summer signing Fernando was ruled out of the trips to Arsenal and Munich because of a groin injury, and is more than likely to not feature again on Sunday, meaning Fernandinho could occupy the holding midfield role like he has done in the last two games.
- Stevan Jovetic, who won City’s player of the month for August, picked up a hamstring injury in the international break, but may return to action on Sunday, but not necessarily from the start.
- Frank Lampard, who made his debut against Arsenal last weekend, could be in line for his first home start in City blue, against the club who he is the record top goalscorer at and a legend with fans.
- Diego Costa has been a doubt for the last few league matches for Chelsea, but has gone on to start each game and scored in every one, including a hat-trick against Swansea last weekend. This may well be the case again, but if he doesn’t feature because of his hamstring injury, Loic Remy will earn his first start.
- It is unlikely that Didier Drogba will be included again after featuring in the Champions League, where he did not particularly impress. The 36 year old has only just recovered from an ankle injury.
- Jose Mourinho made four changes against Schalke from the team who beat Swansea, including giving Felipe Luis his first start, but Cesar Azpilicueta is expected to return to the starting line-up along with Oscar and Andre Schurrle.
Manchester City wins = 47 / Chelsea wins = 57 / Draws = 37
Last Meeting: Manchester City 2-0 Chelsea (15th February 2014)
Manchester City exacted their revenge on a Chelsea side that has beaten them twice in the Premier League in the 2013-14 season with a convincing 2-0 home win that put them in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup last season. Stevan Jovetic and Samir Nasri scored the goals that keeps City’s dreams of a quadruple alive and the winning margin might have been even more emphatic on a miserable night for Jose Mourinho’s men. If Jose Mourinho’s previous visit to Etihad Stadium – a 1-0 victory two weeks earlier – was a tactical triumph for the Blues boss, then this was something similar for his City counterpart Manuel Pellegrini, who enjoyed only his second success in 10 managerial meetings between the pair.
Stat of the Match
No team has won more games at Manchester City in Premier League history than Chelsea, who have won 11 times at The Etihad Stadium since 1992.
Where can I watch it?
With kick-off at 4pm, Sky Sports 1 is the place to be to see the game live on Sunday, with their coverage beginning at 3:30pm. There will be highlights later on Match of the Day 2, which starts on BBC One at 10:30pm.
My Prediction: Manchester City 2-1 Chelsea
Last weekend I got my first score prediction right so far this season, so can I make it two on the bounce? Probably not, but for Sunday’s game I’m going for a 2-1 Manchester City win, despite Chelsea’s impressive start to the season. Diego Costa is again a doubt, but this time may not make the game, so without him, Loic Remy may score Chelsea’s only goal, whilst Sergio Aguero and Vincent Kompany will be on target for Manuel Pellegrini’s home side.