Every year there are matches that formulate the shape of the season. In recent seasons, Manchester City and Chelsea, two of the heavy Premier League hitters have been involved in such games.
Two seasons ago Jose Mourinho conducted a tactical masterclass and a Branislav Ivanovic goal suggested the Blues would win the league – they didn’t.
Last season, City pegged back the runaway leaders with a late Frank Lampard goal that promised they would run them close in the chase for the championship – they didn’t.
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So, we face another in the saga this Sunday, with many pundits already predicting the demise of the current champions. No doubt, the City performance at West Brom on Monday was good - most notable the return to form of Yaya Toure - while Chelsea stuttered to a 2-2 draw in their opening game with Swansea.
One of the concerns among the London team’s supporters is the lack of options in the team selection, with it seemingly being a straight choice between Ramires and Oscar for a midfield place and possibly the versatile and athletic Kurt Zouma coming in to combat City’s strength.
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Potential new left back signing Baba Raman won’t have arrived in time, and the John Stones transfer saga goes on and on with no conclusive end in sight.
On top that Thibaut Courtois is suspended for his Swansea dismissal, meaning Asimir Begovic will be tested on his full debut, and Ivanovic will certainly need to improve on last week’s performance.
For City, Jesus Navas promises but doesn’t deliver and Samir Nasri is still a frustratingly inconsistent performer. Wilfred Bony hasn’t hit the heights yet and of course Raheem Sterling and Fabian Delph are bedding in.
However, the talented Sergio Aguero is likely to produce a moment of magic and a goal – though for Chelsea Eden Hazard is due one too, and nobody knows quite how fit Diego Costa is, except, ironically, the Chelsea medical staff.
The recent “Eva-gate” incident may have deflected away some of the other issues at Stamford Bridge, and are probably not what the doctor ordered. But at least there’s no Lampard this year to upset the travelling supporters.
Sadly, as a Blues supporter, I can only see City winning this, perhaps by two goals, meaning the champions would be five points behind them by Sunday evening.
But, these are early days in the long race for the medals and I expect Chelsea to strengthen and get their form back. They will still be challenging City, Arsenal and Manchester United for the main prizes.
Chelsea fans, do you think your side will beat City on Sunday? Let us know your predictions in the comments box below.