Chelsea host title rivals Manchester City on Sunday afternoon.
The pair are much fancied for the Premier League title this season and this clash could be an early yard stick to where both clubs are at the moment.
Both teams have found consistency in recent months, after starting the season in a slightly inconsistent manner.
City suffered unexpected defeats at the likes of Cardiff and Aston Villa, while Chelsea were beaten at Everton and suffered a shock Champions League defeat at home to Swiss side Basel.
Chelsea have now won six out of their last seven games and are starting to produce the results expected of a Jose Mourinho team. City have won the last three games, after two consecutive defeats.
Both teams have prepared for this fixture with midweek Champions League victories. However, the wins came in very contrasting manners. Chelsea hammered Bundesliga side Schalke 3-0 in Gelsenkirchen, while City claimed a narrow 2-1 at CSKA Moscow.
Both results were vital in the grand scheme of the Champions League, as both teams had already suffered defeats in the group stages. Chelsea’s victory had to be regarded as the more impressive of the two though, despite City having to play on a pitch that looked more Sunday league than Champions League.
Some of the key players for the duo are just hitting form. City’s Argentinian striker Sergio Aguero is in outstanding form and has scored four goals in his last two appearances for the Citizens. The former-Atletico Madrid striker also seems to be forging a promising partnership with Spaniard Alvaro Negredo in the City attack.
For Chelsea another Spaniard stole the headlines in Champions League action, as Fernando Torres netted a brace against Schalke on a rare first team start these days. The former-Liverpool striker has struggled to get in the team since the arrival of former-Barcelona star Samuel Eto’o, but he took his goals well and may just have played himself into the team for Sunday’s game.
Chelsea also have Belgian ace Eden Hazard getting back to his best. The Belgium international winger has produced two good performances in his last two games. After a slow start to the season it seems that Hazard edging back to his best form.
One of the deciding factors in this match could be whether City’s defensive heart Vincent Kompany is fit to start the game. The Belgium international has been struggling with a thigh strain and is still a major doubt for the clash.
Even Chelsea’s Eden Hazard, a teammate of Kompany at international, has admitted Kompany’s importance to the City team. The winger told Sky Sports: “Kompany is really important for City because when he plays they win and when he doesn’t play they lose, often,”
“We know his quality and we’re lucky to have him in the Belgium team. I prefer to play with players like that than against them.”
Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini decided to start with central midfielder Javi Garcia at the heart of the Citizens defence at CSKA in the Champions League and the Spaniard was poor in the position. I doubt many City fans would fancy the prospect of Chelsea’s attacking players up against the Spaniard.
I am sure that City boss Pellegrini realised that Garcia did not look comfortable at centre-back and will decide to explore other options. If not then City could be in big trouble.
Chelsea will head into this match feeling very confident, especially as they have home advantage. That alone could be enough to tip the balance in their favour. City does not have the greatest record away from home this season and Stamford Bridge is always a difficult ground to visit.
This game could be very tight. Both teams will be looking for their big players to produce big performances. The likes of Aguero, Hazard, Toure and Torres will be looking to take centre stage and show the world why their team are likely to be Premier League champions at the end of the season.
These two teams are regarded as the favourites for the Premier League title, but a victory in this clash will not necessarily decide the title. However, to the victors the spoils of the psychological advantage that can prove so vital in these Premier League title races.
This game really is a tough one to call. Chelsea heads into the game as slight favourites at 11/8, while a draw is 12/5. The visitors are 11/5 to claim victory at Stamford Bridge. For me there is not much between these sides, so the draw maybe a decent bet.
Who will come out on top between Chelsea and City?
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