Preview: Chelsea v Manchester City
With the Europa League out of the way it’s time for City to switch focus to Chelsea. The champions have been resting players in readiness for this fixture and Roberto Mancini will do well to come away with anything positive after fielding a full-strength side against Kiev.
Torres, Essien, Luiz all had a midweek rest while Yaya will be playing his fifth full game in fifteen days on Sunday. It doesn’t bode well against a rejuvenated Chelsea looking to reclaim third place.
It won’t be a surprise to see Mancini put the shutters up in a manner last seen in the goalless draw at Arsenal. Even with similar personnel, the tactics are likely to focus on containment and hitting Chelsea on the break through Tevez.
The captain has an excellent scoring record against Chelsea and there’s a suspicion that Carlos may be able to catch out Luiz and snaffle a goal. Whether David Silva is fit enough to play after limping out of Thursday night’s encounter could be crucial. Without him the service to Tevez could be limited.
With the requirement to compete physically against Chelsea, it’s doubtful Dzeko or Balotelli will be starting. The absence of Zabaleta ensures Kolarov will be starting at left-back, and it will be no surprise to see Milner ahead of him. The England man may not be the most dynamic of wingers but he will give protection to the Serb.
If we are to get anything from the game, then the triangle of Kompany, Lescott and de Jong need to remain resolute. Behind them Joe Hart is likely to be busier than he has been of late.
Coming at the end of a punishing schedule, this could be seen as the toughest fixture we’ll face in the remainder of the season. After this the fixture list offers Mancini the prospect of more time on the training pitch to better condition his charges.
A draw on Sunday will see us hang on to third place, while victory would be as good a result as we’ve had all season. One that would set us up for the run-in and put us on track to secure qualification for the Champions League.
Blue Days line-up (4-2-3-1):
Richards – Kompany – Lescott – Kolarov
de Jong – Barry
Silva – Y Toure – Milner
Prediction: 1-0 to City.