The Premier League campaign has started in a relatively bright manner and one of the biggest games of the league season takes place on Sunday, as title hopefuls Manchester City go head-to-head with champions Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium.
The two teams enjoyed differing fortunes on the opening weekend of the Premier League campaign.
Chelsea drew 2-2 with Swansea at Stamford Bridge and also had highly-rated ‘keeper Thibaut Courtois sent-off.
Meanwhile last season’s runners-up Manchester City sauntered to a 3-0 victory at West Brom on Monday night, with Ivory Coast midfielder Yaya Toure producing a superb performance.
The win carried on the Citizens good form from the end of the last campaign, when Manuel Pellegrini’s side claimed six straight wins. The win will have been encouraging for everybody involved with the Citizens.
Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho is usually a master at grinding out results in this sort of game of matches. His now famous ‘parking of the bus’ tactic has proved very successful for the Portuguese boss down the years.
Mourinho is likely to approach this game with his trademark pragmatism. You can be sure that Chelsea will not be going at City from the start of this game.
Games between these two teams are usually tight, with both of last season’s meetings finishing 1-1. They are also tend to be low scoring, as seven out of the last eight Premier League meetings between the two teams have seen two or less goals.
Mourinho’s often defensive tactics have obviously contributed to some of those results, but I doubt many Chelsea fans will be complaining about their manager’s tactics if the Blues claim the Premier League title once again next May.
This game could be key when it comes to the psychological advantage this season. It may be early in the season, but a City win would restore some of the confidence that seemed to go missing during the middle of last season.
Chelsea boss Mourinho will know the importance of getting the better of the Blues main title rivals. He does have a good record against City, having won seven out of the 12 meetings against the Citizens and losing just twice.
In fact Mourinho has yet to lose a game to a fellow top four team since he returned to Stamford Bridge two years ago.
Despite the claims of Manchester united and Arsenal, these two teams still have to be favourites to claim the title at the end of the season. Often these games are nervy, tense affairs and this one is unlikely to be any different.
Both teams will know the importance of an early victory over their main rivals and what it could do to the spirits within each camp.
Manchester City are favourites to claim a victory at odds of 11/10, the draw is odds of 5/2, while the visitors are odds of 11/4 to claim the win at the Etihad Stadium.
City may be buoyed by their opening week win, but they cannot understatement the reigning champions. They may have drawn their opening game, but they have the quality and the know-how in their squad to claim a result in Manchester.
The most obvious result in this fixture is a draw. No doubt City will not go at Chelsea in a gung-ho manner and Chelsea will be happy to hit City on the break when they can.
As usual it is likely to be a cagey affair and possible as a result the game may just be an anti-climax. It will get a big build-up, but seldom do these big clashes between title challengers produce entertaining football. Neither side will want to open themselves up to be beaten, so both sides will attempt to keep it tight.
Even if the game is not an entertaining affair full of free-flowing, attacking football the tactical battle will be fascinating. Manuel Pellegrini has only ever beaten Mourinho twice in 12 meetings with the Portuguese, but will hope to outfox his former La Liga foe.
This game promises to be absorbing and could have an effect on the course of the season. However it is only one game, in week two of the Premier League campaign, so the result may not be definitive.
Who will come out on top at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday?
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