Arguably the sternest test since Jose Mourinho’s return to Stamford Bridge comes on Sunday as Manchester City come to SW6.
The Blues have found some good form in recent weeks, epitomised by the impressive 3-0 win over Schalke on Tuesday night. Fernando Torres scored the goals his recent form has deserved, while Eden Hazard continued his own purple patch.
Manchester City have similarly found their stride in recent weeks and with both Liverpool and Arsenal winning on Saturday, a win is vital for both sides in order to keep pace with the surprise early season leaders.
Ashley Cole could return to the side following the rib injury that saw him miss the wins over Norwich and Cardiff, while Gary Cahill will be hopeful to retain his place in the side having replaced David Luiz in Germany.
For Manuel Pellegrini and his side, the form of David Silva and Sergio Aguero has been crucial to their own recent run of form, and the scene is set for a tasty encounter on Sunday evening. The visitors however will still be unable to call upon the services of skipper Vincent Kompany.
Both sides have been scoring for fun of late, but City have looked suspicious away from home – only 4 wins in their last 12 away league games is not title winning form, and coupled with the vulnerability that tends to appear when Kompany is missing, Chelsea might fancy their chances.
The head-to-head record between the manager’s also favours the home side, with Jose Mourinho coming out on top in five of his seven previous meetings with Pellegrini, losing only once and seeing his side score 24 goals in the process.
The Blues haven’t lost a home game since January, and should be roared on by an atmosphere significantly different to the one that greeted them in the corresponding fixture last season, when Stamford Bridge let Rafa Benitez know what they thought of his appointment as interim manager.
It was a drab 0-0 that afternoon, the recent form and history between the managers suggests that won’t be the case again this time around, especially with such a vital three points on offer.
Call it the battle of the blues or the nouveau riche, it’s a compelling fixture each time it comes around, and this Sunday should be no different.