In a season which has seen Chelsea involved far less in the Premier League title race than in recent years, the imminent trip to Eastlands to face second-place Manchester City will at least give the Blues the opportunity to gain some significance in potentially helping to decide just who becomes Champions in 2012. With City four points behind rivals United in the table, a home defeat to Chelsea would certainly give the red half of Manchester the impetus for success that they always seem to find at this time of year.
More importantly, of course, three points for Chelsea will not only maintain Roberto Di Matteo’s incredible start as Interim First Team Coach, but will provide a statement of intent that would crank up the pressure on our own city rivals in the race for third. Given our recent form, and keeping in mind City’s recent loss to Swansea, we have every right to be confident going in.
A note must also be made, unfortunately for us, about the return of Carlos Tevez. The temperamental Argentinian striker has made no secret that he and boss Roberto Mancini had chosen the Chelsea fixture as the game in which he will make his oh-so-gracious return to the fold. I’ve no doubt he wants to come back against Chelsea because he’s fully aware that he’s usually good for a goal or two against us, and if you were writing the story of the Tevez saga there is no doubt that the next chapter would have him scoring the decisive goal at the Etihad on Wednesday. Whilst doing your best to banish the inevitability of this scenario from your mind, here are some helpful, and some not-so-helpful reminders of how our recent encounters with City have panned out…..
Manchester City 1-0 Chelsea, Eastlands, Saturday 16th October, 2004
An 11th minute penalty from future-Blue Nicolas Anelka was enough for a triumph which gave Kevin Keegan’s side the distinction of being the first team to beat Chelsea under Jose Mourinho. It was, in fact, Chelsea’s only league defeat all season as they marched on to Premier League glory.
Manchester City 0-1 Chelsea, Eastlands, 28th December, 2005
Joe Cole’s solitary strike continued Chelsea’s fine 2005/2006 campaign with an important Christmas win. The game was notable as it was the first competitive club fixture Frank Lampard had missed since he arrived at the club from West Ham for £11million in August 2001.
Manchester City 1-3 Chelsea, Eastlands, Saturday 13th September, 2008
Tensions between the clubs were high after Robinho signed for City on deadline day of the August transfer window, having been linked with a move to Stamford Bridge all summer. The Brazilian made his debut in this one, and delighted manager Mark Hughes by scoring an early free-kick to mark a new era for the recently taken-over club. The fun ended there for City, however, as Ricardo Carvalho rattled in a John Terry knock-down before excellent goals from Frank Lampard and Anelka earned a deserved win.
Manchester City 2-1 Chelsea, Eastlands, Saturday 5th December, 2009
Mark Hughes saw his side come from behind, and goalkeeper Shay Given save a late Frank Lampard penalty in order to take three points from Carlo Ancelotti’s men. Emmanuel Adebayor scored the opening goal – putting it in the wrong net to give Chelsea the lead – but he soon atoned with the equaliser. Carlos Tevez scored the eventual winner from a free-kick shortly before the missed spot-kick.
Manchester City 1-0 Chelsea, Eastlands, Saturday 25th September, 2010
Chelsea were unfortunate to be beaten by Roberto Mancini’s team in a tight clash which, once again, was settled by a goal from Carlos Tevez. The former Manchester United striker had also hit a brace against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge earlier in the year. Chelsea would finally break the winless run against City with a 2-0 win in the reverse fixture, with goals from David Luiz and Ramires.
Manchester City vs Chelsea, Etihad Stadium, Wednesday 21st March, 2012
There are two common themes when looking at the recent history of this fixture, and, more pointedly, two most prominent goal scorers. As discussed, Carlos Tevez seems to like nothing more than a goal against Chelsea, but on the other side of the coin, Frank Lampard possesses and excellent hit rate against Wednesday’s opponents. Lampard is likely to spend more time on the pitch, as Tevez will probably feature only as a substitute. Hopefully it will only be Frank’s trend that continues.
It was great to see Fernando Torres back among the goals against Leicester City, and with a great all-round performance as well. A start against City would represent a huge vote of confidence in the Spaniard from Di Matteo, but after Didier Drogba’s colossal performance against Napoli you can’t help but feel the Ivorian will take priority in the big games for the remainder of the season.
All in all, we need more of the same. The team has been absolutely excellent recently, and if we show what we have in the last two games especially, City will have a very difficult night. If you remember, Man City actually did the double over us in our double-winning season not so long ago. I’m not saying they will or won’t win anything this season, but how about we do the double on them this time?