CHELSEA TAKE ON NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK

By Rowan Farnham-Long
Sep 12th, 2008

It’s the billionaires versus the gazillionaires this Saturday as Chelsea head up north to visit fully-loaded Manchester City in a game where all eyes will probably be on just one player. The summer-long Robinho saga was finally settled as the transfer window slammed shut , with the seemingly suicidal Brazilian forward escaping the hellish surroundings of Madrid (!) for the utopia that is Manchester (!), with Chelsea unwilling to stump up the multi-millions Real wanted for him. Cash-rich City will of course be able to parade their latest (and first of many it seems) superstar signing against Chelsea this weekend. You really couldn’t make it up. With ex-Blue Shaun Wright-Phillips also set to line up against us, I think the pessimists and old romantics amongst us are definitely fearing the worst!Believe it or not, City also have other players on their books, and it won’t just be Robinho and SWP take. If new owners Abu Dhabi United had got their way on deadline day, the pint-sized duo would have been joined by Ruud van Nistelrooy, Cesc Fabregas, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Fernando Torres, PelĂ©, Dimitar Berbatov, Tom Cruise, Jon Bon Jovi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Noel Gallagher amongst other ridiculous targets. As it is, they will have to make do with the likes of Tal Ben-Haim and Didi Hamann.

City have injury doubts over a few players, with Valeri Bojinov, Benjani Mwaruwari, Martin Petrov and Darius Vassell (would Cristiano even get in the side with Darius in full flight?) all definitely out, while Michael Johnson and Micah Richards struggle for fitness following a groin injury and a shoulder problem respectively. As well as Robinho, City confirmed the signings of Pablo Zabaleta, Vincent Kompany and Glauber recently, with all three expected to shore up the Citizens defence. One time Chelsea target Kompany has already made his debut, and impressed against West Ham, picking up the man of the match award in a 3-0 rout over the Hammers. City’s last game also ended in a 3-0 win for Mark Hughes’ side, with Sunderland put to the sword.

On the same day, Chelsea struggled to a dismal 1-1 draw against Tottenham, and things haven’t got better since despite the international break. Michael Essien picked up a knock playing for Ghana which was later revealed to be an Anterior Cruciate Ligament injury, while Joe Cole was the victim of an attempted murder against Croatia, leaving the playmaker with a nasty head wound. Both players join Michael Ballack on the sidelines.

Chelsea tend to do well against Man City however, only losing two games against them in the last 15 years. Those defeats came in 1993 and 2004, with a Nicolas Anelka penalty the difference between the two sides in the latter game. Last season’s meeting at Stamford Bridge ended in a 6-0 rout as Avram Grant showed he could do entertainment after all…Well, for that game anyway.

The last time we played them at the City of Manchester Stadium, it was still a win, but only by two goals, with a Richard Dunne own goal followed up later by a Salomon Kalou strike with City defender Nedum Onuoha stretchered off mid-way through the game. Of course this season they have a new manager, Ex-Chelsea striker Mark Hughes, as well as the aforementioned former Blues Shaun Wright Phillips and Tal Ben-Haim. There should be a warm reception for all three (maybe two, sorry Tal, I can’t think of any fond memories mate), and maybe if we go 6-0 up again, Shauny can knock one in. All eyes will be on Robinho and the newest  members of the billionaires club, but hopefully we’ll be watching our own Galactico’s record a win and send out a message:

Money can’t always buy success. We should know after all!

Prediction: One big name doesn’t change a side over night, and although City have been impressive recently, there are still question marks over their consistency. They have already lost to Aston Villa, and only scraped into the UEFA Cup First Round, so they are beatable. However, our own recent form and especially on-field performances haven’t been all that flash either. Hopefully we’ll be better than we were in our last away game against Wigan, and certainly better than the dismal draw with Spurs, so I’m going for a narrow 1-0 win, with Robinho taken off inside five minutes after finding out what it’s like to come up against John Terry!

Chelsea play Manchester City on Saturday 13th September at the City of Manchester Stadium. Kick-off is 5:30PM.

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