The FourFourTwo Preview: Man City vs Chelsea
An action-packed and highly entertaining game between two teams launching wave after wave of attack. Because only a sucker would set his team out to sit deep, frustrate the opponent and play for a draw away from home, right?
Manchester City look to continue their goal celebration UK tour this Monday night, as the new league leaders take on third-place Chelsea in a game that could have a significant bearing on the destination of this season's league title.
MAN CITY FORM
- Tottenham 1–5 Man City (Prem)
- Man City 4–2 Watford (FAC)
- West Ham 0–3 Man City (LC)
- Man City 4–2 Cardiff (Prem)
- Man City 5–0 Blackburn (FAC)
- Chelsea 0–0 West Ham (Prem)
- Chelsea 1–0 Stoke (FAC)
- Chelsea 3–1 Man Utd (Prem)
- Hull 0–2 Chelsea (Prem)
- Derby 0–2 Chelsea (Prem)
With a 100% home record and more than 100 goals this season, you can take your pick as to which City stat you use to wow your peers.
But the one that is perhaps most ominous with Monday's game in mind, not to mention jaw-dropping, is that Manuel Pellegrini's team have scored more goals at home alone than the home and away tally of every team in the league bar Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool.
City's 42 goals at home is only one less than the Blues have managed all season in the league.
Jose Mourinho had a lot to say about West Ham's tactics after the 0-0 draw, conveniently ignoring a certain Champions League semi-final second leg with a team that wear black and blue.
Given the way The Affronted One set his team out at Old Trafford and the Emirates this season (0-0 draws the both of them) Mourinho may be whistling a different tune entirely should his side escape the Etihad with a share of the spoils.
At present, Chelsea have the best defensive record in the league, and in their last eight games only three teams (Crystal Palace, Liverpool and Manchester United) have managed to find the back of Petr Cech's net. That should be put to the test by the MCFC Globetrotters.
Pellegrini will be without talisman Sergio Aguero, who limped off with an injury to his right hamstring in the 5-1 win over Spurs.
His absence is a major blow for City given the unbelievable way the Argentinian is performing, charging around like Sonic the Hedgehog on an orgy of Smarties. Samir Nasri, James Milner and Javi Garcia are also out.
For Chelsea, new signing Mohamed Salah is eligible and could play some part, but Fernando Torres and Marco van Ginkel are injured. Mourinho went for the power and direct running of Andre Schurrle against City at Stamford Bridge, and may consider recalling the German international who scored in that game but has appeared in just two of Chelsea's last five league games.
Key battle: David Silva vs Ramires
Comfortably one of the Premier League's best players, Silva in full flow - as he was for spells against Spurs in midweek - is a joy to behold. Gliding across the pitch like a ballet dancer, all grace and poise, he makes the difficult look easy and the easy look nonchalant. In the game at Stamford Bridge, Silva completed more passes than any other player on the field and, as usual, was a constant threat.
Someone will have to keep an eye on him, and as the slippery Spaniard likes to cut infield so often that responsibility could fall to Ramires. Sitting in the second band of Mourinho's 4-2-3-1 system, Ramires often goes under the radar at Chelsea, leaving the plaudits to the more creative talents in front of him and the curmudgeonly stoppers in behind. But the Brazilian does an important job for the Blues and is often relied upon to help form the solid base from which to build on.
A true Mourinho lieutenant, Ramires has started all but one of Chelsea's league games this season - only John Terry, Petr Cech and Eden Hazard have been called upon more. In Chelsea's 2-1 win in October he completed 4 of 5 take-ons and made more ball recoveries than any other player. He will be asked to key tabs on City's blockbuster attack, but will need to be careful - no Chelsea player has made more fouls per game this season.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- Chelsea 2–1 City (Prem, Oct 13)
- Chelsea 1–2 City (FAC, Apr 13)
- City 2–0 Chelsea (Prem, Feb 13)
- Chelsea 0–0 City (Prem, Nov 12)
- Chelsea 2–3 City (CS, Aug 12)
An already frosty relationship dropped a few more degrees in temperature when the two teams met at Stamford Bridge back in October. Manuel Pellegrini, furious at the frenzied manner in which Jose Mourinho celebrated his side's late winner, refused to shake hands with his managerial counterpart.
"I didn't shake hands because I didn't want to," huffed a bullheaded Pellegrini, arms crossed and with bottom lip firmly south. It's fair to say a certain competitive rivalry appears to exist between the former Real Madrid gaffers, and it will be interesting to see whether Pellegrini chooses to greet Mourinho on Monday or snub him once again.
TIPS & TRENDS
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Facts and figures
- Chelsea have kept 3 clean sheets in a row away from home in the Premier League.
- Man City have won their last 13 home matches in all competitions.
- Chelsea have lost their last 4 Premier League visits to the Etihad, but no team has won more games away at Man City in Premier League history (10).
- Chelsea have been level at half-time in their last 5 away matches against Man City.
- Chelsea had 39 shots against West Ham in midweek (incl. blocked shots); the most by any team who failed to score in the PL since 2003/04.
- Alvaro Negredo has scored 16 goals in his last 13 competitive appearances at the Etihad.
More FFT Stats Zone facts • Find the best odds with Bet Butler
City look like they have too much class and confidence right now to be stalled by any Mou mind games. 3-1.