After the worry of Thursday night, Chelsea turn their attentions back to the Premier League and their hunt for second place. They travel to Manchester to face the blue half just four points behind. A win would put The Blues hot on the tales of Man City in the hunt to be the Premier League’s second best team. But it won’t be an easy task. Chelsea have lost on each of their last three visits to the Etihad / City of Manchester. They had one nine of their previous ten visits, however.
If there was ever a time to place Man City, it is now. Form and results have been hard to come by for Roberto Mancini’s men – the 3-1 defeat to Southampton the pick of the bunch. And with his team trailing leaders Man United by 15 points going into today’s match, Mancini has lost his usual calm and cool exterior – it looks like the manager mirrors his team.
Chelsea go into the match unbeaten in four matches, scoring four in their last Premier League outing. Although the final whistle was met with rapturous cheering and ‘One Step Beyond’ (because drawing 1-1 with Sparta Prague in the Europa League is such a big result), the performance was poor. And Benitez will have to change something if he has any hopes of beating Man City.
Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole and Branislav Ivanovic look set to return after they were rested for the Sparta match. And after a recent spell on the bench, we’re still no clearer on what Benitez thinks his best central defensive partnership is. Demba Ba will return to the squad after being cup tied for the Europa League.
Man City are waiting to the fitness of captain Vincent Kompany and Gareth Barry. Carlos Tevez returned to the team against Leeds in the FA Cup and is likely to partner Sergio Aguero up front.
City’s average points per game at home (0.87) against Chelsea is their worst against any team in the Premier League.
City haven’t won in their last three league games. The last time they went four without a win, Mark Hughes said his goodbyes.
Lampard goes in search of his 200th Chelsea goal, and a goal in his fifth consecutive Premier League game for only the third time in his career.
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