On Monday night two of the Premier League title protagonists meet at the Etihad Stadium, as Manchester City host Chelsea.
Both clubs have built their recent successes from their respective owners having deep pockets.
No longer ruling
Chelsea’s Roman Empire no longer rules the Premier League. Portuguese general Jose Mourinho was brought in to guide the once great empire back to glory. He has won a few battles, but he may have difficult winning the war.
The wheels have not come off for Chelsea, more like hey have been bettered so far this season by a wily old Frenchman and a Chilean, who unlike other Premier League bosses does not whine.
Manchester City under Chilean boss Manuel Pellegrini have been simply irresistible in front of goal this season. The likes of Sergio Aguero, Alvaro Negredo, Edin Dzeko and Yaya Toure have all found their scoring boots and are using them to full effect.
City have now lost top scorer Aguero for a month with a hamstring injury. The Argentinian has been City’s star player, when he has been playing that is. Such is the strength of the City squad though that Aguero’s absence may not be that noticeable.
Edin Dzeko seems to be the eternal back-up striker at City. The Bosnian international has scored 17 goals this season, despite being considered a back-up to Aguero and Alvaro ‘The Beast’ Negredo. There was believed to be interest in Dzeko from elsewhere in January, but City boss Pellegrini knew the value of Dzeko to the squad.
Dzeko is expected to be partnered by the highly underrated Spaniard Negredo against Chelsea in tonight’s game. The former-Sevilla striker has scored 23 goals in all competitions for City in his debut season and become a cult hero amongst the City faithful.
When he and Roberto Soldado arrived from Spanish football in the summer, I predicted that both players would be a success in the Premier League. Oh well one out of two is not bad I suppose. The 28-year-old was a consistent goalscorer in La Liga and has carried on where he left off in the Premier League.
Then there is there is Montenegrin forward Stevan Jovetic, who has spent most of the season doing his best impression of the invisible man. The former-Fiorentina forward has hardly played for City since his summer arrival from Florence.
However, when he replaced Aguero against Tottenham he started to look like a big money signing, scoring a goal, hitting the woodwork and finally looked like he could offer City more than just a sicknote.
In Jose Mourinho’s first spell in charge at the Bridge the Blues were famed for their defensive record and being hard to break down. It has taken his team a while to re-establish that resilience in defence in his second spell.
That resilience has returned slowly, but surely and the Blues now have the best defensive record in the Premier League. That defensive record will be severely put to the test by a City team who have registered 42 home goals in just 11 Premier League matches this season.
The centre-back partnership of Gary Cahill and John Terry may fancy their chances against the likes of Dzeko and Negredo if the game becomes a battle. All four players are up for the physical battle though and it should be a good contest, even without Kun Aguero.
Chelsea will head into the fixture with optimism, as the Blues are one of only four teams to have beaten City in the Premier League this term. Mourinho’s charges defeated City 2-1 thanks to a last-gasp Fernando Torres goal at Stamford Bridge earlier this season, after a terrible mix-up between Matija Nastastic and Joe Hart.
Chelsea have also already claimed goalless draws at Manchester United and Arsenal this season, as Mourinho has set his stall out not to lose the big away trips, rather than going all out for victory, which is very understandable.
The Portuguese may use the same tactics that brought him relative success at Old Trafford and the Emirates, or he may choose the more unlikely tactic of attacking City and attempting to expose weaknesses in their defence.
This game may not decide where the Premier League title heads at the end of the season, but the result could have a big effect on it. A City win would move them to the top of the table and six points clear of the Blues, while a Chelsea win would put them level with the Citizens.
These two teams are relatively evenly matched, but the home side are favourites for the win in this clash at odds of 10/11, while the Blues are odds of 13/5 to claim the victory and the draw is odds of 13/5.
Those people that say money cannot buy you success should take a look at these two teams, as money has brought them success on the field in recent years. Without clever management money means nothing though.
Both these two teams now have managers capable of handling the pressure of being in charge of such big financial resources. Here is hoping that the match between the two wealthiest clubs in the Premier League does not turn out to be a complete waste of time and money.
Who will claim victory in tonight’s big clash?