Chelsea – Manchester City (Premier League)
This Sunday Chelsea is host to Manchester City looking stronger than their visitors, something we have not seen in a while. In the last 10 clashes between them, the Citizens won 7 and the Blues only 2. But then again, José Mourinho never lost a Premier League game at Stamford Bridge, a stretch that goes back to his first time around as Chelseas’s Boss and it adds up to 64 fixtures. If the Londoners win the gap separating the two sides will grow to 4 points. It’s still a long run ahead but psychologically that can certainly help to tip the scale.
Let’s see Chelsea‘s numbers. Under José Mourinho Chelsea had 13 fixtures this season, 8 on the Premier League, 3 on the Champions, 1 on the Capital One Cup and the UEFA Super Cup final. They lost 3, to Bayern Munich, Basel FC and Everton. Just last Tuesday the Blues beat Shalke 04 (0-3) and are now sitting at the top of Group E. The team is slowly coming together to meet their boss’ and fans’ standards, although they are yet to be and play all they can. Chelsea struggled with opponents they were not supposed to. But even when the squad does not play his best football the Blues still win points. It’s one of Happy One’s signatures, no matter the circumstances his teams always want to add another notch to the victory belt and that wining drive gives them an extra boost. Against Norwich and Cardiff he showed that magic hand he has, reading the game and intervening to change the it’s course. At Gelsenkirshen Fernando Torres was reborn, netting two decisive goals, and must be eager to follow up on that. Other than the long-term absentee Van Ginkel and a doubtful Ashley Cole, Mourinho has the all squad at his disposal.
Probable lineup: Cech – Ivanovic, David Luiz, John Terry, Cezar Azpilicueta – Lampard, Ramires – Schurrle, Oscar, Hazard – Fernando Torres.
City, is heading to Stamford Bridge on the back of a 2-1 Champions League victory against CSKA Moscow in the Russian capital on Wednesday. They also notched their first way victory of the season at Upton Park last weekend (1-3). The Citizens have the best attack of the Premier League, 20 goals in 8 games, courtesy of Aguero, Yaya Touré, Negredo, Dzeko and friends. The Argentine has been outstanding, in top form, with eight goals in six games. Alongside him Negredo has emerged as a first-choice striker. Of course Dzeko’s fans would disagree but that is the drama when a squad that has several elite players for almost every position in the pitch. Manager Pellegrini clearly has an “A” team and he will probably stick to them. But with such scope, and the stakes at hand, he may resort to one or two surprises. Other than some doubts about Martin Demichelis fitness and Kompany’s thigh injury, he has no worries there.
Probable lineup: Joe Hart – Zabaleta, Javi García, Nastasic, Kolarov – Jesús Navas, Fernandinho, Yaya Touré, David Silva – Kun Aguero, Álvaro Negredo.
Mourinho and Pellegrini have a couple of things in common: they were both coaching in La Liga last season and both had the surreal experience of coaching Real Madrid. The Portuguese replaced the Chilean after Florentino Pérez sacked him for not beig mourinhoish enough. Manuel Pellegrini is calm, discrete, considerate and hates controversy. Mourinho, well, is nothing like that. In Spain they went face-to-face several times, but now it’s different. Málaga wasn’t really a match for Madrid. Out there, on the Premier League they are equals, leading big-money teams that aim to the top. Who will break?