Manchester City v Chelsea
Date: Sunday February 24
Kick-Off Time: 13:30 Local Time
Venue: Etihad Stadium, Manchester
This is no doubt the stand out fixture in this weekend’s Premier league schedule with the Champions of England taking on the Champions of Europe. With title dreams seemingly over for both sides, although Roberto Mancini fails to admit it, this clash could prove to be crucial in the battle for second place and nothing more.
The home side have looked vulnerable in recent weeks, draws with Q.P.R and Liverpool coupled with a humiliating defeat at the hands of Southampton has left their hopes of retaining the Premier League title in tatters.
City did manage a comprehensive victory against Leeds United last weekend in the F.A Cup although we won’t know whether they have really turned the corner until 3:30 tomorrow afternoon.
Mancini will be sweating on the fitness of skipper Vincent Kompany and Gareth Barry as both face late fitness tests.
If the former doesn’t make it Kolo Toure could make his first Premier League start since returning from the African Cup of Nations, whilst brother Yaya is set to start in the heart of the City midfield.
It seems as if Carlos Tevez will be preferred to Edin Dzeko in attack alongside Sergio Aguero with Mancini opting for dynamism ahead of power in the forward areas.
Chelsea visit the Etihad in similar form to their hosts obtaining a less than impressive 11 points from their last six games.
Unlike City the visitors did manage a Premier League victory at the last time of asking with a rousing 4-1 victory over relegation threatened Wigan Athletic.
John Terry’s current feud with interim manager Rafael Benitez could well continue as it seems the Spaniard will once again leave him on the bench favouring Branislav Ivanovic and David Luiz in the heart of his defence.
Frank Lampard will once again be Chelsea’s stalwart in midfield as he looks to close in on Bobby Tambling’s goal scoring record. Lampard is currently on 199 goals and is just three short of Tambling’s all time Blues scoring record, although debate is still circulating as to whether the midfielder will stay on at Stamford Bridge after this season.
Brazilian international Ramires may be deployed in a wider role to give cover on the flank with Jon Obi Mikel replacing him in a central birth.
Once again Demba Ba will lead the line for the European Champions with hapless Fernando Torres presumed to be named among the substitutes.
On current form and squad strength a draw looks the logical result here, however given the fact that City have the home advantage and anything but a win would completely crush their title aspirations I expect Mancini’s side to be really up for this and to take all three points by a one goal margin.
Prediction: Manchester City 2-1 Chelsea