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Manchester City predicted XI vs Chelsea

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Manchester City travel to Stamford Bridge on Saturday evening to face Chelsea in what could be a season-defining match for Manuel Pellegrini's team.

The reigning Premier League champions currently sit second in the table, five points behind Jose Mourinho's men. But all could change this weekend.

If City can topple the host's they'll move within two points of Chelsea, but lose and they'll find themselves eight points adrift in their attempt to secure back-to-back Premier League titles for the first time.

Toure won't be back

Pellegrini had been hoping to have Yaya Toure back available, alongside new man Wilfried Bony. The duo are on international duty with the Ivory Coast and could have been eliminated on Wednesday evening.

However, the Ivorians beat Cameroon 1-0 to progress out of the group stage and the pair now won't be available again until the visit of Hull on the 7th February at the earliest.

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It's not all bad news for Pellegrini though, with Chelsea sweating over the availability of star striker Diego Costa who has been charged with violent conduct by the FA.

The charge, which Costa has appealed, relates to an alleged stamp on Liverpool man Emre Can during the Tuesday night League Cup clash and will discover his fate on Friday.

Striking options

After a striking crisis over the Christmas period, Pellegrini now has the luxury of having all three of his front men available.

Now Pellegrini has to decide if he wants to go with two up top or if he plans to pack the midfield and hit Chelsea on the break.

Either way Sergio Aguero is almost guaranteed to start up front as he looks to overtake Costa at the top of the Premier League goalscoring charts.

Given his ability to hold play up and relieve pressure on his defence, Edin Dzeko is likely to take the second spot should Pellegrini go with a two.

Defence has been week

Another big decision for the City chief is who he selects to partner Vincent Kompany at the heart of defence.

It's likely that his choice will be influenced by the availability of Costa, especially given that Eliaquim Mangala's best performance in a light blue shirt has been his debut display against Mourinho's men where he battled admirably against Costa.

The full-back positions will be somewhat easier to decide upon, with Pablo Zabaleta and Gael Clichy having been first choice throughout the campaign.

Does Frank Lampard play?

If Pellegrini allows sentiment to overrule logic then Frank Lampard will make the starting line up on Saturday, but you can expect him to have to be content with a place on the bench against the club he served with such distinction.

With Toure away, Fernando and Fernandinho will occupy the central midfield berths, while David Silva will certainly start.

If Pellegrini goes with a five-man midfield, we could see Silva from the left, Samir Nasri from the right and James Milner given a central role where he can best utilise he endless energy.

In a four man midfield, Nasri is likely to be the man eased out of the team, with Milner being asked to protect Zabaleta from the marauding Eden Hazard.

Predicted Line Up:

Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany, Mangala, Clichy; Nasri, Fernando, Milner, Fernandinho, Silva; Aguero

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Topics:
Manchester City
Football
Premier League

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