Premier League big guns could cancel each other out again
Chelsea would open up an eight-point gap on champions Manchester City with victory over Manuel Pellegrini’s side in the capital this weekend and that would surely be a bridge too far.
This really is a must-win, or a must-not-lose, game for City if they want to hang on to their title but if anyone can get a result at Stamford Bridge it’s Vincent Kompany and his team.
City have won five of their last nine matches against Chelsea and only lost twice and they’ll have been pleased to see Liverpool take the Blues to extra time in the Capital One Cup in midweek.
Jose Mourinho couldn’t rest many of his first-choice XI and those 120 minutes will have taken their toll.
Chelsea, of course, are very tough to beat at home. In fact, they boast a perfect record at the Bridge this season in the Premier League and have only conceded three goals.
They’ve only lost five times in total in front of their own fans under Mourinho but one of those defeats came against League One Bradford City in the FA Cup last weekend and they probably aren’t playing with quite the fluency they were a few weeks ago.
The prospect of losing top scorer Diego Costa for three matches has upset Mourinho, who already thinks that the FA have got in for his team, and his mood wouldn’t improve if Frank Lampard returned to Stamford Bridge to haunt his former club.
But there are so many potential match-winners involved in this game that it’s difficult to focus on one player. Hazard, Fabregas and Oscar are all capable of magical moments on one side, while Aguero, Silva and Lampard can match that trio.
Didier Drogba is Costa’s likely replacement if the latter is suspended.
Chelsea’s exertions in midweek are a worry and City have won more away games and scored more goals than anyone else in the Premier League away from home.
But they also arrive off the back of a poor result in the FA Cup against Middlesbrough last week when Pellegrini fielded a strong side and their overall record in the top flight at Stamford Bridge (just one win in 16) is woeful.
City are still without Yaya Toure and new signing Wilfried Bony because of the Africa Cup Of Nations so are going to find it tough to break down Chelsea unless Pellegrini goes for broke and plays Edin Dzeko alongside Aguero.
We’ll take the view that the best two teams in the country will cancel each other out with the draw available at 49/20. A 1-1 correct score, as it was at the Etihad earlier this season, is 19/4.
The match kicks off at 5.30pm on Saturday, January 31st at Stamford Bridge.