Arguably two main candidates for the Premier League trophy will square off as early as this weekend, with one team set to gain a psychological advantage in the title race. Manchester City should be in better spirits having enjoyed a winning start, while Jose Mourinho is almost certain to revert to more defensive approach in spite of the opening stalemate against Swansea.
Having failed to mount a serious title challenge last term, Manchester City were always going to spend heavily this summer, and they surprised many pundits by recruiting three of England’s hottest prospects. And while Patrick Roberts is seen as a player for the future, England hotshots Raheem Sterling and Fabian Delph are expected to slot straight into the starting line-up. The Citizens are widely expected to add few more high-profile players to their ranks before the end of the summer transfer window, with Wolfsburg’s Kevin De Bruyne reportedly their number one target at the moment. Meanwhile, Manchester City enjoyed a strong start to the Premier League campaign, hammering West Bromwich 3-0 at the Hawthorns, but they will obviously have bigger fish to fry when they face Chelsea on Sunday. With Sergio Aguero admitting he was still far from the desired fitness after taking part at the 2015 Copa America, Wilfried Bony could keep his place in the side, while Jesus Navas is likely to be sacrificed as Manuel Pellegrini aims to start with two holding midfielders and move Yaya Toure further up the pitch. Fabian Delph and Gael Clichy are not yet ready to return to the side.
After winning the Premiership title in style, Jose Mourinho saw no reason to change the winning team, but he did get rid of some dead weight and also added Radamel Falcao to his ranks. The season did not exactly start well for the Blues and they largely struggled against Swansea at Stamford Bridge, albeit avoiding defeat after they were reduced to ten men. It would appear as though Chelsea will need some more time to hit the ground running and that is why Mourinho is unlikely to take many risks when his side take on Manchester City at the Etihad. Thibaut Courtois’ suspension has been upheld, meaning he will miss the high-profile encounter, but that should not be such a big problem after summer recruit Asmir Begovic was thoroughly impressive on his debut. Just like his counterpart, Jose Mourinho will drop one attacking midfielder, most likely Oscar, in favour of introducing another defensive midfielder to the side, with Cesc Fabregas set to assume the role of attacking midfielder. This means that Kurt Zouma may be used in midfield one more time having largely impressed in this position on previous occasions. We definitely expect to see defence-minded Chelsea on Sunday, although they will be sure to try and catch the opposition on the break.
Both managers respect the opposition too much to attack from the off and everything suggests we will see another tight game where one goal could decide the winner. Neither side will want to lose such a big match so early in the season, meaning under 2.5 goals should be a safe bet.
Verdict: Under 2.5 goals
Best Odds: 4/5