Last season’s Premier League top two meet just two weeks into the new campaign when Manchester City host reigning champions Chelsea at the Etihad on Sunday (16:00 BST, live on Sky Sports).
Man City finished eight points shy of Chelsea last season to relinquish their title following an inconsistent campaign. They are determined to make a better fist of things this time around and began the new season with a fine victory over West Bromwich Albion on Monday.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side started well and were two goals to the good within the opening 25 minutes thanks to a double from Yaya Toure. His second was a wonderful strike following a neat one-two with Wilfried Bony on the edge of the area. Vincent Kompany added a third just before the hour to seal a comfortable and convincing opening-day victory for the Citizens.
Raheem Sterling was the club’s big-ticket summer signing, coming in from Liverpool in a £49million deal. He should really have marked his debut with a goal when put through during the first half of Monday’s match, but his pace and movement helped stretch play and provide David Silva with the necessary space to conduct operations from the centre.
There were times last season when for all their talent City were a little too predictable, and the addition of Sterling will certainly add some verve to their attack. In Sergio Aguero they still possess the league’s best striker, while they may still add another forward player to their ranks before the end of the window. Improvement in defence would be an added bonus.
Pellegrini is highly likely to be without the injured Fabian Delph (hamstring) and Gael Clichy (ankle) for his side’s home debut. Yaya Toure was taken off during the second half of the win over West Brom with a groin strain but is expected to start on Sunday.
Chelsea lifted the Premier League trophy for the first time in five seasons last time out and are seeking to secure the club’s second-ever back-to-back success this time around. They were, however, pushed all the way in their league opener at Stamford Bridge last Saturday.
Jose Mourinho’s (pictured) side led twice but were pegged back on both occasions by an ambitious and well-organised Swansea side in what was an even and entertaining encounter. Chelsea’s goals came courtesy of Oscar and a Swansea own goal, and they played out the final half-hour with 10 men following the dismissal of goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.
It was not the most convincing start to the Blues’ title defence but that said more for the quality of their opponent’s performance than it did for their own failings. Mourinho’s side began last season in similarly open style, overpowering opponents with their attacking potency, before reverting to a more defensive approach from the turn of the year onwards. That result did see Chelsea drift to second favourites in the Premier League betting with the bookmakers.
Chelsea’s transfer activity since the end of the last season has largely been focused on the procurement of like-for-like replacements for outgoing players. While their squad looks in strong shape as is, they could yet dip into the market to sign another established player. If not, then young players like Bertrand Traore and Ruben Loftus-Cheek will in the gaps.
Mourinho will be without the suspended Courtois for the trip to Man City, with new signing Asmir Begovic set to make his debut in place of the Belgian. Chelsea otherwise have a full squad available for this fixture.
Man City v Chelsea Preview’s Betting Tips
Both of last season’s matches between these sides ended in 1-1 draws and there has generally been little to separate them in recent encounters, with only one of the last eight league meetings decided by more than one goal. Chelsea won three of those to City’s two, but Man City have a better home record, with four wins in the last six at the Etihad.
City began the season with a purposeful performance away to West Brom and will hope to carry that swagger into this game against one of their primary rivals for the Premier League title. While Chelsea will not provide them with the same freedom of midfield as Monday’s opponents did, they have enough quality in attack to cause the Blues problems.
Chelsea will have no qualms about playing in a defensive manner if they feel it is appropriate and they are certainly unlikely to be as open at the Etihad as they were at home to Swansea last weekend. They are comfortable defending close to their own goal and have sufficient pace and quality in the final third to be a dangerous proposition on the counter-attack.
We expect this to be a tightly contested affair in a similar vein to both of last season’s encounters. The most likely result is a low-scoring draw. Here are our Man City v Chelsea match preview’s betting tips: