It’s only the second week of the 2015/16 Premier League campaign, and we are already going into a game that looks like one of the biggest of the season. Chelsea’s trip to the Etihad Stadium on Sunday to face Manchester City is sure to throw up more answers than questions, as the Champions and the runners-up from last season collide.
After last week’s 2-2 draw at Swansea City, and a week laden with controversy with regards to the demotion of club doctor Eva Carneiro, Jose Mourinho needs his side to give a big response. That is easier said than done, though, as they face off against a side who arguably, despite their worries last season, man-for-man still have the best squad in the league.
We take a detailed look at the shape Manchester City are in going into this game and analyse where the gaps may be for us to exploit.
Left-back Gael Clichy (ankle) and central midfielder Fernando (groin) are doubts for the home side, but they have personnel at their disposal more than able to fill these positions.
Fabian Delph is a long-term absentee with a hamstring injury, and will certainly not be making his debut anytime soon, following his much-talked-about move from Aston Villa in the summer.
City were, without a doubt, the standout performers of the first week, expertly negotiating a tricky away trip at West Bromwich Albion to come away with a 3-0 win. To add to that, it was three of their senior-most players – Yaya Toure, David Silva and Vincent Kompany, getting on the scoresheet.
They are the Premier League’s most in-form team if the end of last season is considered as well. They are on a 7-match winning streak, and their best players have all come back strongly after some harsh criticism last season. They only lost twice at home last season, winning their last seven at the Etihad. The form book is certainly on their side going into the monumental clash with Chelsea, and they will be looking to keep it going and go 4 points clear of the Blues.
City are thriving on oodles of confidence at the moment, which makes them a very dangerous proposition indeed. Manuel Pellegrini’s men always play well when they are in a good run of form, and can beat any side in the world.
Sergio Aguero’s fitness is key, as the Argentine has been a constant thorn, not only in our defence but every other defence in the Premier League as well. With our centre-backs performing as poorly as they did last weekend, he will be licking his lips at the prospect of making a big impact.
We analysed Branislav Ivanovic’s role in the team last week, and the Serbian is set to face off against Raheem Sterling on Sunday. The English winger, signed for £49 million from Liverpool in the summer, is one the fastest players in the league, and will rip Ivanovic to shreds if the latter decides to go walkabout at any point.
Despite the good run of form City have been in, there is no doubt that their defence can be got at. Kompany hasn’t been at his best in the last year or so while Eliaquim Mangala has yet to settle in following his big-money move from Porto last summer. If Diego Costa can keep them honest throughout the game, there is a big chance they will buckle and present us with an opening.
Another factor to be considered is the players’ attitudes when the team is down. The likes of Silva and Toure may be fantastic individual players, but when their heads are down, they fail to track back and defend for their side. So, if we can get on top early on and get a goal, the spaces will start to open up in midfield.
The wingers, Sterling and Jesus Navas, are both brilliant going forward, but do not track back. Willian and Eden Hazard will find time and space to run with the ball, and must take full advantage of this.
Possible starting line-up
Manchester City are expected to line-up in a 4-2-3-1 formation as follows:
This is really difficult to predict as a Chelsea fan, as the neutral would most probably go with a home win, as current form suggests. But Mourinho is experienced enough in these games and knows that this is a game Chelsea can’t afford to lose. So, I’m going to sit on the fence and call it a score draw, just like last season.
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Edited By: Karan Dubey
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