Sunday’s Premier League clash between Manchester City and Chelsea is a vital one for both teams.
The reigning Premier League champions Manchester City could kick-off 15 points behind bitter-rivals Manchester United at the top of the Premier League table.
Both teams have suffered from inconsistency this season. Both went out of the Champions League because of tough opposition, but inconsistent performances were also a factor in their demise.
Chelsea started the season in sparkling form and looked like they were realistic challengers for the Premier League title.
The trio of Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Oscar looked set to rip up top flight opposition week-in week-out.
Unfortunately for Chelsea and then-boss Roberto Di Matteo the Blues couldn’t continue in the same vein and their form dipped. Di Matteo paid the price by losing his job and being replaced by Spaniard Rafa Benitez, whose appointment was met with widespread outrage amongst the Chelsea fans.
Ironically the Spaniard’s first game in charge was against the champions. His team have been inconsistent since he took over and the Spaniard has failed to convince fans that he can bring the club the success they crave.
Benitez will inevitably leave his short term role in the summer and Chelsea will be back to the drawing board looking for yet another new boss.
City boss Roberto Mancini’s future is also in doubt. He reacted angrily to questions about his future in a recent press conference and it seems the pressure is now getting to the Italian. The champions haven’t been able to find any consistency in their performances this season.
Mancini seems to have the backing of his players and the majority of fans, but still there is speculation that the Italian may still leave his position at the end of the season.
City’s lack of consistency and Manchester United’s relentless form has led to City falling 12 points behind the Red Devils. Manchester United could stretch that lead to 15 points with victory at QPR today.
Recovering to win the Premier League title may not be impossible, but it will be very difficult. City will have to win every match from now on, starting with the Chelsea game and United would need to be defeated in a least four of their remaining games.
It seems unlikely, but United blew an eight point lead last season. The biggest problem for City is that United look so determined to reclaim the Premier League crown. Not winning this game will make winning the Premier League almost impossible.
Manchester City might now be realistically competing with Chelsea for second place behind their local rivals. I’m not sure if City fans would have foreseen this happening this season, but the Citizens may have to settle for challenging for second place.
Without thinking about challenging for second place Chelsea firstly need to secure third place. Fourth place Tottenham are just a point behind their London rivals in the Premier League table.
With Tottenham playing at West Ham on Monday night this game is a chance to move further clear of Andre Villas-Boas’ side. However, the Blues will have a difficult task of winning at the Etihad Stadium.
The pressure is on both sides to gain victories in this clash. It’s a must-win clash for both teams. Roberto Mancini and Rafa Benitez both know that defeat is unthinkable and will increase the already heavy pressure.
Who will come out on top between Chelsea and City?