Right from the start of the season, almost all pundits, ex-players and coaches have opined that the two main contenders for this season’s Premier League are Chelsea and Manchester City. And the two teams meet each-other for the first time this season on Sunday at Eastlands.
Manchester City is the current title holders, while Chelsea secured third place last season. Liverpool was runners-up last season, but their sale of their most enigmatic yet controversial player, Luis Suarez, have seen them drop down the bookmakers’ list, making Chelsea the main title rivals for City.
Taking into account the current form of the two teams, Chelsea look favourites, as they are the only team in the division to have maintained a perfect record after four matches. Four wins from four matches, scoring 15 goals in the process, Chelsea couldn’t have asked for a better start. However, they slumped to a 1-1 draw at home in their first Champions League match on Wednesday against Schalke 04, which might indicate complacency.
Manchester City’s start to the season, on the other hand, has not been as good as they would have wanted. The defeat at the hands of Stoke City at home in their third match followed by a draw at the Emirates have slowed them down a bit, while they suffered a further defeat at the hands of Bayern, at the Allianz in the Champions League, as they conceded a late goal from Jerome Boateng. As a result, Manchester City will be desperate to get back to winning ways and makeup ground on Chelsea. Bacary Sagna is eyeing a victory against Chelsea to help heal the Bayern loss.
“We kept working hard until the end, and it was a goal at the end, but we had chances as well,” said the right back. “We need to think about Chelsea now as we have a very difficult game on Sunday.”
Team News & Injury News:
Jose Mourinho has confirmed that in-form striker Diego Costa will start against City despite not being in the best condition due to a niggling hamstring problem, having made an appearance from the bench against Schalke 04. As a result, he will he rested in the Capital One Cup tie against Bolton on Wednesday, said Mourinho.
Manuel Pellegrini has admitted that Sergio Aguero is not fully fit.
“When he is 100% fit, Sergio always makes a difference. At this moment, he is not ready to play three games a week,” said Pellegrini.
But he will start in all probability. Striker Stevan Jovetic and midfielder Fernando are out again, while Edin Dzeko, troubled by a back problem since midweek, is expected to be fit.
Another significant sub-plot to this match is the involvement of former Chelsea veteran Frank Lampard. Manuel Pellegrini has confirmed that Lampard will be included in the 18 man squad for this fixture. After an illustrious 13-year spell at Chelsea, during which he scored 211 goals in 648 appearances in all competitions from midfield, making him Chelsea’s highest ever goal scorer, Lampard departed to New York City in the summer.
But since the MLS doesn’t start in a while, Lampard has been loaned to City for six months, primarily because both New York City and Manchester City have the same owners. There had been suggestions that Lampard won’t feature in matches against Chelsea. However, Pellegrini said that the 36-year-old would be very much available for selection on Sunday against his former side.
Didier Drogba is quite excited at the prospect of facing Lampard.
“I can’t wait to see him, my partner in crime. It is a pity that I came back and he’s not here anymore, but I will be happy to see him,” said Drogba. “It doesn’t matter the team where he is playing, i think he still belongs to us. He is a Chelsea player, for what he did. For me, he is a part of the history of the club.”
Last Season Stats & Point Table:
Chelsea won both league matches against City last season, while lost against them in the FA Cup tie. Right now City is five points adrift of Chelsea, and a defeat would leave them eight points behind the league leaders.
“It is a very important game, they are first in the league and have more points than us. We can’t lose on Sunday and let the gap get any bigger. So it is a very important game,” said David Silva.
Predicted Starting Line-Ups:
Manchester City: Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Clichy; Fernandinho, Lampard; Silva, Navas, Toure; Aguero.
Chelsea: Courtois; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta; Fabregas, Matic; Hazard, Oscar, Schurrle; Costa.
Predicted Score: Manchester City 1 – 2 Chelsea
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