In preparation for tonight’s showdown between Manchester City and Chelsea, I have compiled what I think to be the best starting XI made up of players from both sides.
GK - Petr Cech
This selection may cause slight controversy but I firmly believe that Petr Cech is the more consistent. Hart will no doubt be scarred from his mistake in the reverse fixture earlier in the season. An ever present this term, Cech has kept nine clean sheets; four more than his rival Hart. Cech has also been in more big games than Hart and therefore has more experience.
RB - Pablo Zabaleta
In a season where Manuel Pellegrini has rotated his centre-halves and left-backs, Pablo Zabaleta has been the firm choice right-back. He has improved drastically over the last 2-3 years and his work rate inspires his team. Although Branislav Ivanovic is much more of a physical presence and a threat from set pieces, he has a worse disciplinary record and the players must keep their cool in a game of this magnitude.
CB - Vincent Kompany (C)
When he’s fit, he’s simply one of the best defenders in Europe. Pace, power, skill - the Belgian has everything in his arsenal required to stop the best attackers in Europe. Kompany always seems to play better in the bigger games and scores some crucial goals-don’t be surprised if he pops up with a towering header at some point in tonight’s game.
CB - John Terry
After a difficult couple of years under previous managers Andre Villas Boas and Roberto Di Matteo, John Terry has re-established himself under Jose Mourinho as one of the best defenders of his generation. Love him or hate him, Terry is a true Chelsea legend and a leader on the pitch.
LB - Gael Clichy
This is probably the weakest area of the pitch for both teams. If this list was designed two years prior, Ashley Cole would walk into the team. However, over the past eighteen months, Clichy has been the more consistent left-back for either side. His pace is a valuable asset both offensively and defensively and will relish the challenge against Chelsea’s attackers.
RW - Eden Hazard
I’m sure if Manuel Pellegrini could select only one Chelsea player to include in his squad, it would be Eden Hazard. With nine goals and five assists to his name already this term, he has often been the stand-out player in Chelsea’s team. He is probably the best dribbler of the ball in the league at this moment in time; the ball looks like it is glued to his feet. His battle with Zabaleta will be crucial to tonight’s game; whoever wins that may win the match.
CM - Yaya Toure
In my opinion, Yaya Toure is the most complete midfielder in Europe. When he plays well, City play well and unfortunately for Premier League teams, Toure plays well more often than not. This year, he has been much more of a threat in-front of goal. With 12 goals to his name so far, he has already doubled his tally for the previous three seasons. He is also a major threat from set plays having scored with 80% of his free-kicks so far.
CM - Oscar
Many football fans were surprised by Juan Mata’s exclusion from the Chelsea team but the reason is Oscar. Jose Mourinho is building his side around the young Brazilian and it is clear why. He is one of those players that dictate the pace of the game and can often produce the spectacular to win games single-handily. If he can erase the simulation from his game then he has all the talent and time to become one of the best ‘number tens’ in Europe.
LM - David Silva
David Silva is one of the most gifted footballers in England right now, even if he is playing out of position in order to accommodate Oscar. The tricky Spaniard is the one player who makes the City team tick. His range of passing is exceptional as he demonstrated during City’s demolition of Tottenham at White Hart Lane. He is extremely calm on the ball and is able to pick out passes most players would never even attempt.
ST - Alvaro Negredo
With 23 goals in 33 appearances in all competitions so far this season, Alvaro Negredo is enjoying one of the most impressive debut seasons in recent memory. ‘The Beast’ is exactly that; likened to Alan Shearer, he is the definition of the classic ‘number nine’. Although Terry and Gary Cahill will relish the physical challenge tonight, expect Negredo to get the better of his opposition more often than not.
ST - Sergio Aguero
What a massive blow it is to Manchester City that Sergio Aguero is injured for tonight’s game; the Argentine is simply unplayable on current form. Having taken him only 81 games, he is the fifth fastest player to reach 50 Premier League goals and is surely one of the top two strikers in England along with Luis Suarez. Fans of the Premier League will be hoping he gets back to action sooner rather than later because there aren’t many more entertaining players to watch.
Can Chelsea be the first team to stop Manchester City at the Etihad? Have we missed anybody out of the team? Let us know in the comments below!
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