Manchester City host Chelsea at the Ethiad on Sunday 16th August, in which could be an early indicator of who will win this season's Premier League.
Manchester City were currently top of the league after beating West Bromwich Albion 3-0 at the Hawthorns, on Monday evening before Manchester United's win over Aston Villa.
City were excellent and scored early when Yaya Toure’s strike deflected off David Silva, which deceived Boaz Myhill in the West Brom goal. City struck again in the 29th minute when Yaya Toure released a thunder bolt into the top corner, after playing a neat one-two with fellow Ivory Coast international Wilfred Bony.
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This put City in a comfortable position and West Brom rarely threatened City’s back four. Kompany added a third goal in the second half with a bullet header, after a lapse in concentration from West Brom’s defence. It was a pretty comfortable game for City, but they will certainly face a much bigger obstacle against Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea.
Chelsea hosted Gary Monk’s Swansea City at Stamford Bridge on the opening day of the Premier League and were held to a 2-2 draw. After a disappointing pre-season defeat to Arsenal in the Community Shield, Chelsea wanted to bounce back and send a message to their major rivals by dismantling Swansea.
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Things didn’t quite go to plan for Jose’s men though, as Chelsea were pegged back, not once, but twice, with Thibaut Courtois receiving a red card in the second half after pulling down Bafetimbi Gomis in the box. Gomis calmly finished from the penalty spot, sending Asmir Begovic, Chelsea’s new keeper, the wrong way. The game finished 2-2, as neither team could steal a winner late on.
HEAD TO HEAD – THE RIVALRY
Chelsea are unbeaten in their last four Premier League meetings against Manchester City, winning two and drawing two. The Blues will be looking to build on this good run of form against their bitter rivals.
Manchester City could go five points clear of Chelsea if they can win, and that will no doubt be the objective for Sunday’s affair. Manuel Pellegrini’s attacking philosophy could play into the hands of Jose Mourinho’s men however, as it will suit Chelsea’s defensive strengths and allow them to hit City on the counter-attack.
Manuel Pellegrini and Jose Mourinho have somewhat of a fiery relationship, after both have criticised each other’s teams and tactics.
Mourinho took over from Pellegrini at Real Madrid in 2010 after Real sacked the Chilean manager. The Special One succeeded where Pellegrini failed as Real Madrid won the Spanish title, La Liga, in 2012. Jose publicly criticised his predecessor and stated, “If Madrid were to fire me, I wouldn't go to Malaga. I’d go to a top-level team in Italy or England”.
Mourinho has continued to use his mind games and tactics to frustrate Pellegrini in England. Pellegrini has stated Chelsea have a ‘small team’ mentality after Mourinho’s men sat back and defended for large parts of the match in last season’s encounter at the Ethiad. City were down to 10 men and managed to grasp a late equaliser, when former Chelsea legend, Frank Lampard, struck in the 85th minute.
City dominated the game completely and Pellegrini hit out at Mourinho’s defensive tactics, especially as Chelsea had a man advantage. Pellegrini stated after the match that “It was not the result that was deserved, but we had a very similar result to Stoke here, ten players defending their own half. They scored a goal that was a counter-attack against ten players… and they continued to defend to the end”.
Pellegrini loves to play in an attacking fashion, keeping possession and creating lots of chances; whereas Mourinho’s men like to defend in numbers against bigger opponents and will not commit to attacking as much. Pellegrini does not believe in this type of philosophy, which, in a way is good, because his teams are always entertaining to watch, but at times this attacking style can be slightly naïve and cause problems for them defensively.
STAR PLAYERS MISSING
Chelsea will be without the suspended Thibaut Courtois and so new signing Asmir Begovic will get his opportunity in between the sticks. He is undoubtedly a fantastic shot stopper and will have to be at the top of his game, if he is to preserve a clean sheet against Manchester City.
Yaya Toure will be Manchester City’s major injury concern, after he sustained a minor groin injury in the match against West Brom. It is highly likely he will miss the clash against Chelsea and that will be a huge blow to City. Toure is an instrumental player and can single-handedly win City games at times. He is also a major goal threat too, having contributed 36 goals over his last two seasons with the club.
Chelsea will be hoping that the Ivorian talisman, does not make a rapid recovery. City’s midfield still possess quality, but without Yaya Toure, does not pose the same threat.
Gael Clichy and City’s new acquisition Fabian Delph are also out with injuries and so will most probably miss the match too.
Sunday’s fixture promises to be an exciting encounter, with both teams wanting to win and make an early claim to the title. After a less than impressive display against Swansea, Chelsea must respond with a positive result against Manchester City.
City will look to build on what was the perfect start to their Premier League campaign against West Brom, with another win here. Six points out of six for Manchester City would send a real message to their rivals that they mean business this season; however with Mourinho’s tactical genius, that statement is easier said than done.
Mourinho will want to take at least a point from this game and anything short of this will be unacceptable. This is the biggest game in the Premier League so far and should hopefully live up to the hype, bringing plenty of goals too.