24th November 2012
What a start this will be for Rafael Benitez if he can guide his new side to a victory over Premier League leaders Manchester City, with this game a perfect opportunity to prove all his doubters wrong. Roberto Mancini, on the other hand, will demand another solid showing from his squad, after the Citizens finally notched up a couple of good results in a row.
Everybody is wondering what exactly made Roman Abramovich trust Rafael Benitez to replace Roberto Di Matteo, despite the fact that the club have made it clear this is only a short-term appointment. The only logical conclusion is that the Spaniard was brought to help Fernando Torres return to his best, as it is more than clear the former Liverpool boss wasn’t signed to help Chelsea become even more attractive than they were under Roberto Di Matteo. The new boss will have his work cut out for him as he attempts to restore the confidence following back to back defeats to West Brom and Juventus, while it will be interesting to see whether he will keep the three attack-minded players behind Torres or opt for a more defence-minded approach. Either way, Chelsea players can be expected to give their best, regardless of their feelings towards Benitez, although I am not convinced that will be enough for the win. Fernando Torres should return to the starting line-up, but John Terry and Frank Lampard continue to miss out.
Despite being heavily criticized for their performances from the very start to the season, Manchester City currently sit at the Premier League summit, without a single defeat in 12 games. One has to admit team’s European showings have been utterly disappointing, which is why the Citizens have once again crashed out of the Champions League in group stage, but at least they can now fully focus on their Premiership campaign. Following back to back wins over Tottenham and Villa, this is going to be a very important clash for Roberto Mancini’s side, as any result other than a win would probably see them slip from the top of the standings. This is why everybody at Etihad is hoping Vincent Kompany will be passed fit to play, while the game comes too soon for Jack Rodwell and Micah Richards. Gael Clichy and Mario Balotelli, on the other hand, should be back in contention.
With Chelsea desperate to make amends for back to back defeats and City hoping to remain at the Premier League summit, we should see a very interesting game at Stamford Bridge. A tight game can be expected between two evenly matched sides, and I could see them canceling each other out.
Verdict: Draw (X)
Best Odds: 5/2