This could be the first day of the title race. Or possibly the last. This weekend, all eyes will be on the contest between Chelsea vs Manchester City.
Opta powered fantasy football game www.oulala.com have taken a detailed look at the biggest match of the season so far.
In September, Chelsea visited the Etihad at the top of the table and 5 points clear of their nearest challengers – Manchester City, the game ended 1-1. The leaders missed the chance to extend their advantage while City failed to make up much needed ground on their rivals.
Four months on and the situation repeats itself. Chelsea are again 5 points ahead despite being caught by City over Christmas who then let the gap appear again. This time the West London club welcome City to Stamford Bridge.
After having to endure extra-time in Tuesday night’s Capital One Cup semi-final second leg against Liverpool, the Chelsea players will have the distinct disadvantage of a shorter rest period. However, Jose Mourinho has previously spoken of his love for a more demanding schedule, the facts are that the fatigue will surely take it’s toll on his players in the latter stages of the game.
Manchester City winger Jesús Navas feels that the clash is a must-win game for his side in the pursuit of retaining their Premier League title. He said “We need to go there with maximum attitude. It would be something very big to win the title two years in a row. But we need three points against Chelsea to close the gap”.
With both sides dumped out of the FA Cup last weekend, at home, and by lower league opposition, the game will tell us a lot about which side has the guile and strength in bouncing back fighting in the return of the Premier League after its two week break.
An intriguing clash awaits us…
Branislav Ivanovic (foot), Felipe Luís (calf) and Cesc Fàbregas (hamstring) all picked up minor injuries against Liverpool on Tuesday night. Diego Costa face a three match suspension after being charged for violent conduct in the same game.
Frank Lampard suffered a hip injury in Abu Dhabi but is expected to recover in time for his return to Stamford Bridge.
Nemanja Matić: ‘The Giant’ is arguably his side’s most important player. Chelsea have lost only once in 32 games this season when he has featured. His job on Saturday will be to offer his team-mates safety, security and reliability against the inevitable wave of City counter-attacks, especially in the second half.
David Silva: Thierry Henry recently called him ‘the best Manchester City player’. The Spanish magician’s ability to both create and score goals makes him City’s most indispensable player in the eyes of the ex-Arsenal striker. Silva is arguably the most likely player to unlock the resolute Chelsea defence.
Mourinho v Pellegrini has been it’s own little soap opera since the Portuguese replaced the Chilean at Real Madrid in 2010 with the pair exchanging little snipes towards each other ever since. The rivalry between the two will be as much about getting one up on the other in theier personal battle as it will be the three important points for their clubs. There’s no love lost here.
- Chelsea have scored the most league goals from set pieces of any team (11)
- Man City have scored the most league goals from counter attacks (5)
- Man City have had the most shots per game in the Premier Leaque (17.4)
- Chelsea have had the most shots on target per game (6.2)
- Man City have enjoyed the most possession in the Premier League (60%)
- Man City have the best pass accuracy in the Premier League (85.2%)
Soccerisma Prediction: Chelsea 1-1 Manchester City