Kalou and Benayoun doubts

LONDON - In-form striker Salomon Kalou is doubtful for Chelsea's visit to Manchester City on Saturday when the champions face what is likely to be their toughest game in the Premier League so far this season.

Kalou has scored four times in Chelsea's blistering start to the new season, which has produced five successive league wins, but he suffered a thigh injury during Chelsea's shock 4-3 home defeat to Newcastle United in the League Cup on Wednesday and was replaced at half-time.

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Manager Carlo Ancelotti, who made nine changes from the side that beat Blackpool 4-0 last Saturday, said after the Newcastle setback that midfielder Yossi Benayoun could also miss the trip to Eastlands because of a calf injury.

"They will both have scans on Thursday but they are both doubtful and I am not sure they are going to be fit enough in time," said Ancelotti after watching his side lose a competitive match for the first time since April.

Manchester City, like Chelsea, were also beaten on Wednesday, losing 2-1 at West Bromwich Albion and although the League Cup was not a priority for either side, they will both be eager to bounce back immediately.

Chelsea lead the table on 15 points, while City are fourth, on eight points from their opening five games.

The weekend's other feature games see second place Arsenal host West Bromwich Albion, while third place Manchester United make the short trip to Bolton Wanderers.

Tottenham Hotspur, who are fifth, travel to bottom-placed West Ham United while Liverpool, humbled by League Two Northampton Town in the League Cup on penalties on Wednesday will be looking to appease the wrath of their fans when they face Sunderland at Anfield.

Liverpool's defeat to Northampton continued their poor start under new coach Roy Hodgson. They are currently 16th with just one win from five games and dissent is apparent in the squad with defender Daniel Agger criticising Hodgson's tactics in an interview earlier this week.


Saturday's match at Eastlands pits new money against even newer money with City desperate to emulate the success Chelsea have enjoyed since Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich rescued them from penury seven years ago.

Before Abramovich's arrival, Chelsea had won the league just once in 1955, but have now won it again another three times and completed the FA Cup and league double last season.

City are desperate for that kind of success and their owner Sheikh Mansour has spent 170 million pounds this year alone trying to find the formula for glory, but they have so far failed to gel as a side and coach Roberto Mancini is having to deal with some internal problems he could do without.

Earlier this week he expressed his irritation at his players publicly criticising his methods, saying they should stop expressing their views in the media.

"I played football myself and I understand why the players who are not chosen are unhappy," he said.

"But at the same time it's really important that we start to change their mentality because if we want to win something, to be a top team, its going to be impossible, if, every few days if a player does an interview moaning 'I am not playing'."

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