Saturday’s clash between Chelsea and Manchester City at Stamford Bridge has as many twists and turns in the storyline as a daytime soap opera, in addition to two teams playing football.
Chelsea return to action after a 2-1 defeat to Inter at the San Siro. Interesting enough, the Premier League has seen fit to give us the 12:45 kickoff on Saturday, having just played Wednesday evening. It’ll be interesting to see how the players have recovered from the midweek travel before the early kickoff.
The main storyline in the press is the return of Wayne Bridge to face his former team and his former captain John Terry. After all the talk of affairs and such, Wayne Bridge has announced that he is no longer available for England because of Terry. It will be interesting to see the reception that Bridge receives at the Bridge.
Secondary storylines involve the Manchester City dressing room and talk of growing unrest. Carlos Tevez was granted compassionate leave to be with his wife and premature baby and should return to action Saturday, though his role isn’t clear. Craig Bellamy has also reportedly had a few issues with the manager and his training methods and did not start last week.
On the injury front, Chelsea’s injury list is growing, as Petr Cech will be out for a month after suffering a torn calf muscle while leaping to catch a ball. Henrique Hilario should be deputising in his place, with Ross Turnbull on the bench.
Long-term knee injuries also rule out Michael Essien and Jose Bosingwa, while Deco is also suffering a knee injury and is out. Ashley Cole will also miss out with a broken ankle, while Juliano Belletti could start after being on the bench for the Inter match.
Manchester City’s injury list looks a bit healthier with only long-term injuries to Michael Johnson and Martin Petrov. Vincent Kompany looks to be missing out with groin injury, while Kolo Toure and Roque Santa Cruz are both doubts with knee injuries.
Emmanuel Adebayor will also miss out after being sent off for violent conduct in the 3-1 defeat to Stoke in the FA Cup replay on Wednesday.
Recent form has shown City to have problems when traveling away from home. They have only won 3 times out of 13 away matches this season. Also, City has failed to score in their last 7 trips to Stamford Bridge. An eighth clean sheet will give them a record. Conversely, Chelsea’s home form has been tremendous seeing the Blues take 37 of a possible 39 points at home this season.
The referee in charge of the match will be Mike Dean who has shown 109 yellow cards and 4 red cards in 29 matches this season. He officiated our match with Arsenal at the Bridge as well.