Battle Of The Blues A Cagey AffairStats
Man City v Chelsea
Man City and Chelsea both suffered disappointing results in Europe but have the opportunity to put it behind them when they pair off this Sunday.
After holding firm for so long against Bayern Munich in midweek, Manchester City were eventually undone by a former player when Jerome Boateng finally broke the deadlock in the last minute as the constant pressure exerted by the German champions paid off.
That was the third game without a win in a row for City, who have won just twice in six games this season. Manuel Pellegrini’s side have lost on their own patch to Stoke already this term and although it is very early in the campaign, the champions have so far looked to badly lack some of the cutting edge which drove them to the title last season.
A 1-1 home draw with a Schalke outfit they had previously enjoyed a great record against, got Chelsea’s Champions League campaign off to a poor start on Wednesday night, with perhaps the main positive coming when Cesc Fabregas got off the mark for his new club with his side’s only goal.
That brought an end to the Blues’ perfect opening to the season as they have raced out of the blocks in the Premier League,
winning each of their four games while scoring 15 goals as they sit top of the pile, and one of only three teams yet to suffer defeat in the top flight.
Along with a sterling showing from Fabregas upon his return to Premier League which has seen him return six assists to date, Diego Costa has taken to English football like a duck to water, scoring seven in four games, including a hat-trick against Swansea in last weekend’s 4-2 win.
Costa failed to make the starting XI for Chelsea’s midweek game as he continues to have trouble with his hamstring will line out from the beginning here with boss Jose Mourinho confirming as much while admitting the striker is not yet ready to face more than one game per week. Mourinho must also decide who makes up his back four after Felipe Luis came in for his first start against Schalke at the expense of Cesar Azpilicueta at left-back.
Striker Stevan Jovetic remains out of action for City as he continues his recovery from a hamstring injury picked up on international duty. Brazilian midfielder Fernando is also expected to miss out with a groin problem but Sergio Aguero should line out from the start having only come on as a substitute against Bayern as Manuel Pellegrini continues to monitor the Argentine’s fitness. Frank Lampard looks likely to start on the bench against his former club.
Chelsea completed a famous 1-0 win at the Etihad last season when Mourinho was praised for a tactical masterclass but City had their revenge just under a fortnight later when they knocked the Blues out of the FA Cup for the second season in a row. The Citizens have actually won five of the previous eight meetings though, and there has been just one draw in the past 21 meetings.
It’s interesting that both bosses rested their star strikers for the Champions League with this game on the horizon and says much about the standard of the Premier League. It’s possibly only home advantage which has City as favourites at 7/5 since their performances certainly haven’t been worthy of such confidence so the away win looks a great price to me at 21/10. In what could be quite a cagey affair, the 21/20 on under 2.5 goals could also prove a worthwhile gamble.