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Manchester City vs Chelsea - Match Preview

A re-energized Chelsea side will travel to the Etihad stadium to face Manchester City on Wednesday night in a game where defeat would spell disaster for either team. Manchester City currently lie in second, four points behind their arch rivals Man...

20 Mar 2012, 10:35 IST

A re-energized Chelsea side will travel to the Etihad stadium to face Manchester City on Wednesday night in a game where defeat would spell disaster for either team. 

Manchester City currently lie in second, four points behind their arch rivals Manchester United, however City do have a game in hand. The Sky Blues had led the table for the majority of the season, but after their 1-0 defeat at the hands of Swansea last weekend, twinned with United’s comfortable 2-0 win over West Brom on the same day, saw Manchester United pip City for the top spot. 

City weren’t in action this weekend but United were, meaning that United’s 5-0 win over Wolves extended the Champion’s lead to four points. A victory for City on Wednesday night would reduce this to just one point, which would make for a very, very intriguing final two months of the Premier League season.

As for Chelsea, their fans have witnessed a spectacular turn of fortunes since André Villas-Boas was sacked on March the 4th, and replaced by Roberto Di Matteo. So far, the Blues are undefeated under Di Matteo, with the 4-1 win at home to Napoli (which was enough to see them advance into the last 8 of the Champions League) the most remarkable of them all. However, only one of these four wins have been in the league, and that was the least impressive of these wins – a 1-0 victory over Stoke. 

In the league, they lie in fifth place, which would only give them Europa League football which isn’t good enough for Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich. A win over Manchester City would give Chelsea a massive boost in their battle to get in the top four. 

However, there is added pressure for the Blues as Arsenal, who are three points ahead of Chelsea, take on Everton away at Goodison Park on the same night. While Tottenham, who are four points ahead of Chelsea, take on Stoke. 

If both North London clubs win and Chelsea lose, Chelsea would be six points behind Arsenal and seven behind Tottenham. Hardly a desirable position to be in with just nine games remaining.

Manchester City’s starting eleven is arguably the most difficult starting eleven to predict in the Premier League. Roberto Mancini regularly alternates his starting strikers between Mario Balotelli, Sergio Kün Aguero and Edin Džeko. 

But to throw a spanner in the works, it is strongly being suggested that Carlos Tevez, who hasn’t played for City’s first team since September 27th after allegedly refusing to come on against Bayern Munich. Since then, the Argentine striker has been suspended by City, as well as fined. If he makes his return, it shall be interesting to see the reception the City fans give him. 

As for Chelsea, there will be some very tough decisions to make for Roberto Di Matteo. Does he go with the tried and trusted Didier Drogba or does he play Fernando Torres, whose performance against Leicester on Sunday was his best since joining Chelsea? 

Does he play Michael Essien who was disappointing against Napoli or does he play Raul Meireles who has divided opinion since joining the Blues? Which two central defenders does he decide to play out of David Luiz, Gary Cahill and John Terry? 

Chelsea’s starting eleven will certainly be an intriguing one.

Key Battles

Juan Mata v Gareth Barry

Trusting both men play, the winner of this battle could determine whether or not Chelsea are able to score at the Etihad or not. Juan Mata has had a fantastic first season in English football, and his creativity has contributed to a significant number of Chelsea’s goals this season. 

However, if Barry can stop Mata seeing a lot of the ball, it may be a frustrating night for Chelsea.

Sergio Aguero vs. John Terry

One of the Premier League’s best strikers will take on one of the league’s best defenders in this battle. Aguero, who’s scored an impressive sixteen goals for City this season, will no doubt attempt to use his trickery and speed to get past the more physical and powerful John Terry. 

Aguero will presumably get a lot of service from the likes of Yaya Toure and David Silva, so Terry will have a tough job on his hands if he wants to keep the striker quiet.

Ramires vs. Yaya Toure

These two midfielders have been arguably two of the Premier League’s best so far this season. Both teams seem significantly worse off when they’re not playing, and both Roberto Di Matteo and Roberto Mancini, will be relying on their player to boss the game and whichever one of these two players see most of the ball, could easily determine the winner of the match.

Written by Joshua Sodergren
Follow him on Twitter @chelsealad1365

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