The Clash of the Titans, the Battle of the Billionaires… Whatever you bill this as, it’s going to be an epic game.
Andre Villas-Boas has turned Rafa Benitezesque in only a few months at the helm of Chelsea. One can only admire the strength of character Roberto Mancini has displayed, a man who was chastised for his negative football and continually hounded out by those who thought only the ‘Special One’ was good enough to lead us to glory.
While this game is not of any significant importance to City other than to emphasise our dominance over the top-flight, it is of great importance to Chelsea. Losing today will surely eliminate them from contention, leaving only Manchester United in the hunt for silverwear.
Roberto Mancini was cautious ahead of the clash with Chelsea, respectfully commenting: ‘It will be a tough game because they are in good form but it will be a good game because two strong teams are playing.
‘We will try to go there to win but we know it will be a difficult game.’
Joleon Lescott, an ever-present rock alongside Vincent Kompany this season highlighted City’s mentality, stating: ‘We are not afraid of going to Stamford Bridge. We don’t think we’ll go and score six like at Old Trafford, because that was even a shock to us.
But we know if teams don’t apply themselves right against us, we can punish them. Our main goal this season was always the Premier League and that remains so.’
Chelsea Team News:
Chelsea will have to make do without the David Luiz who is suspended after picking up a 5th yellow card of the season.
Jose Bosingwa will face a late fitness test after missing Chelsea’s midweek demolition of Spanish giants Valencia.
Player to watch: Daniel Sturridge
The England international left City fans with a sour taste in their mouths after departing for Stamford Bridge.
Fans could not understand why a player with his ability would be allowed to leave, and so pinned the blame on wage demands and greed.
No-one really knows what went on under Mark Hughes’ tenure, including Roberto Mancini who was evidently bewildered.
Sturridge has set about proving a point after being overlooked by subsequent managers. After eventually being loaned out, the young striker made the whole leage take notice with his clinical finishing and silky skills.
While he has nothing to prove against City, the Brummie born hot-shot will undoubtedly be a threat.
Manchester City Team News:
Aleksandar Kolarov and Micah Richards respective injuries mean that Roberto Mancini has little choice but to play Pablo Zabaleta and Gael Clichy. This strength in depth is crucial if City hope to continue their unbeaten season.
Player to watch: David Silva
David Silva is the king of exploiting defensive lapses, and against Romeu, he will have the perfect opportunity.
The diminutive Spaniard has proved to be the leagues stand-out player alongside Robin van Percie, and like the Dutchman for Arsenal at Stamford Bridge, he could be the catalyst for City running riot.
Facing compatriot Juan Mata will surely put a spring in the step of the former Valencia man and it will be interesting to see which star shines the brightest.
Match Facts & Stats
Manchester City have not managed to keep a clean sheet in their last seven league matches.
Chelsea have won five of their last six home games against the Citizens.
Both sides would love a victory, but I feel that Chelsea may be a little over cautious as defeat would surely rule them out of the title race. With this in mind, their no doubt organised formation will frustrate City to no end. While the Chelsea boss may be content just to avoid defeat, the players will be chomping at the bit – this conflict could just create the gaps City are looking for. If however, the players stick to the game plan, I feel that City’s impatience could get the better of them and present Chelsea with enough opportunities to get an unexpected win. I am not sure that Villas-Boas can keep his side from chasing victory and if so, this not only displays his lack of control, but I reckon it will contribute to a loss for the home side. Chelsea 1-3 City.
FA Cup: Home to Arsenal on December 18th 2011 @ 4.10pm