Two of the early season favourites for the Premier League title meet on Sunday when Chelsea host Manchester City at Stamford Bridge (Sunday, 16:00 BST, live on Sky Sports 1).
Chelsea are currently second in the table, two points behind leaders Arsenal with 17 points from five wins, two draws and one defeat. After a patchy start to the season the Blues come into this fixture on the back of four consecutive victories in all competitions.
The most recent of those wins came on Tuesday, when Jose Mourinho’s side were strong in defence and dangerous on the break in a 3-0 Champions League win away to Schalke. Fernando Torres scored twice, with Eden Hazard adding the third to continue his recent good form in front of goal.
Hazard has scored in each of Chelsea’s last three matches, including a double in last weekend’s 4-1 win at home to Cardiff. With the club’s strikers having scored just one league goal between them so far this season, the main goalscoring burden has fallen on the attacking midfielders, and Mourinho will be delighted that Hazard has begun to match the return of Oscar.
At the other end of the pitch, Chelsea have the joint second best defence in the league so far this season, with five goals conceded in eight matches. They have been particularly strong and stable when John Terry and Gary Cahill have been paired in the centre of defence, keeping three clean sheets in four matches.
Terry and Cahill started against Schalke on Tuesday, but David Luiz could well come into the team on Sunday, most probably in place of Cahill. Ashley Cole is expected to recover from the rib injury that has ruled him out for the last three weeks to start, leaving Marco Van Ginkel, who is out for the season, as Chelsea’s only major injury absence.
Man City are just a point behind Chelsea with 16 points from five wins, one draw and two defeats. Impressive victories at home to Newcastle and particularly, local rivals Manchester United have been offset by away defeats to Cardiff and Aston Villa.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side do, however, appear to have at least partially rectified their problems on their travels, having recorded two away victories in the week leading up to Sunday’s match. Last weekend’s impressive 3-1 win away to West Ham was followed on Wednesday by a vital 2-1 win away to CSKA Moscow in the Champions League.
Central to both victories was the sharp goalscoring instinct of Sergio Aguero, whose four goals over the last week have taken his total to the season to nine in 10 appearances. The Argentinian international was not in the best of form last season, but now appears to have returned to the level he displayed during City’s 2011/12 Premier League title success.
City did not have everything their own way on Wednesday, with CSKA’s speedy attackers causing their makeshift defence a number of problems. Midfielder Javi Garcia filled in for the injured Vincent Kompany in the centre of defence and was very poor, lacking pace and displaying poor positional sense on a number of occasions.
Luckily for Pellegrini, Kompany is now ready to return from his thigh injury and will bring some much needed solidity to the City defence on Sunday. His return leaves City with no remaining injury problems, although a lack of match fitness could see Martin Demichelis again miss out on a place on the bench, as he did on Wednesday.
Chelsea vs Manchester City Betting Tips Verdict
Last season’s equivalent fixture ended 0-0, but City were 2-0 victors when the sides met in Manchester and also triumphed against Chelsea in the Community Shield and the FA Cup semi-final. Chelsea have, however, won three of the last five meetings at Stamford Bridge.
Both of these sides like to dominate their opponents and although they go about it in different ways (Chelsea through solid defence and quick counter attacks and City through controlling possession) they are equally as effective. Both are in the league’s top three when it comes to Total Shots Ratio (shots for as a decimal of shots for plus shots against).
Sunday’s match is likely to be tight, cautious affair, with neither team willing to deliberately cede ground to the other. The attacking talent on display will ensure that some opportunities are created, but we do not foresee a high scoring match and believe both managers would be relatively content with a draw.
- Back the draw @ 5/2 with Betfred, BetVictor or Stan James.
- Three of the last five Premier League meetings between these sides have ended with two or less goals and despite the change in personnel on the bench of each club, we expect to see a match with similar characteristics to last year’s 0-0 draw. Back under 2.5 goals @ best odds of 6/5 with Coral.