There it is, two main Premier League title contenders will meet each other in a possible deciding battle for the throne. The time is 5:30 PM, the place is Stamford Bridge, it’s Chelsea against Manchester City. The whole 38 rounds could be decided in 90 minutes, and regardless of how many times will Pellegrini state that this is not the deciding match, nobody can convince us that this match will not either completely change the whole course of the season or confirm the domination and catapult Roman Abramovich towards a new crown.
Nine goals conceded from Tottenham and Bradford
Both sides showed pretty impressive performances so far in the league, but both Mourinho and Pellegrini must be worried about the latest matches in which both teams showed how vulnerable they can be. Chelsea received the first slap in the face from Harry Kane whose match of the career led his Tottenham to a 5-3 victory over the leaders, but again it could be justified in some way. What cannot be justified in any case whatsoever is the latest FA Cup embarrassment because conceding five goals to Tottenham is one thing, but conceding four to Bradford at home is something totally different.
Mourinho will not be generous
Manchester City on the other side will possibly have to catch their last train at the Stamford Bridge because there are 15 round to be played and if Mourinho goes eight points clear at the top it is very difficult to imagine the scenario in which Chelsea would not be the champions. Not that the Citizens did not have their opportunities to go above Chelsea, they did, but they failed to step up in the most important matches, such as the one two weeks ago against Arsenal. Mourinho will definitely be less and less generous as the season gets closer to an end, thus it is crucial for Manchester City not to lose today’s match at the Stamford Bridge.
Diego Costa showed his ugly side during the Capital One Cup match against Liverpool and suspended himself ahead of the highly important match for his team. The Special One also won’t be able to count on Cesc Fabregas and Filipe Luiz who both suffered injuries against the Reds.
Pellegrini on the other side will be sad because Ivory Coast celebrated a victory over Cameroon securing their spot in the African Cup of Nations quarter finals, which means that both Yaya Toure and the recent signing Wilfried Bony will stay in Equatorial Guinea a few days more.
Possible Chelsea lineup:
(GK) Courtois – (Defence) Ivanovic, Zouma, Terry, Azpilicueta – (Midfield) Ramires, Matic, Oscar, Hazard, Willian – (Forward) Drogba
Possible Man City lineup:
(GK) Hart – (Defence) Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Clichy – (Midfield) Navas, Fernando, Fernandinho, Milner, Silva – (Forward) Aguero
The Citizens will remember their important Champions League victories over Bayern Munich and Roma without Yaya Toure in the squad. Looking at Chelsea’s latest results and at Chelsea’s squad without their key Spanish duo Costa and Fabregas, Man City victory at the Stamford Bridge does not seem impossible at all. However, their statistics at the Stamford Bridge is not quite promising because they managed to win only two out of last 17 away games v Chelsea. Going further, there is no worse opponent for Man City than Chelsea because no team has celebrated more victories in the Premiership against them than Chelsea.
If we leave the statistics though, we have to say that the only chance for City to win today are quality performances from Kompany and Aguero. Both of them really need to push harder, especially the Argentine striker who scored five goals in three matches before he got injured. He is now yet to score a goal after the return, and he played four matches already.
Aguero v Zouma
Huge opportunity here for Man City because Zouma being a young potential player with a huge future is still prone to a mistake and having such a striker as Aguero against him will be a huge challenge for him. Of course, John Terry, who is playing one of his best seasons in a blue shirt, will be there to cover Zouma’s potential mistakes and to make Ageuro’s job as tough as possible. Aguero at 100% could very easily be considered as the one who would decide the match, but since he’s still struggling to find his form after the injury, we’ll go here for Zouma and Terry.
Hazard – Zabaleta
Without Diego Costa, Hazard will be the man to look after in Chelsea. We all know that the Belgium midfielder can decide every match, he has the potential to become one of the best in the game, but he finds troubles to deal with the pressure and that’s what is preventing him to be compared to Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo. Today, he’ll be under even greater pressure with the absence of Diego Costa and we’ll go for Zabaleta and Kompany in this battle. Pablo is the guy every coach would like to have, he just does not give up, he always gives 100% and watching him on the pitch is delightful.
Silva – Matic
These two players may be considered as the most in-form players in their teams and both of them will most certainly play very important roles in today’s match. Silva found himself brilliantly in the new role of a shadow striker when all three of Pellegrini’s forwards were injured, while Matic became a vital part of Mourinho’s machinery. The Serbian is just the type of a player Mourinho loves to have and he has all the qualities of a modern midfielder. Today, he’ll be expected to move forward a bit due to Cesc Fabregas absence.
So, to sum it up, if you are not lucky enough to be at the Stamford Bridge, make yourselves comfortable and enjoy the battle for England. Though both teams will be without some very important players, we do not doubt that those on the pitch will make the game as entertaining as possible. And we do not expect anything less from a top-of-the-table clash. Enjoy!
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