While most English Premier League fans realize league-leading Chelsea will be in for their toughest test of the young season when they visit Manchester City on Sept. 25, it’ll also answer quite a few questions about manager Roberto Mancini’s City team. Chelsea, the reigning EPL champions, have steamrolled their way through their first five league games and have outscored their opponents 21-2 for a four-point lead over Arsenal and Manchester United.
However, they were humbled 4-3 at home at Stamford Bridge by Newcastle in the Carling Cup on Wednesday. The club also lost Gael Kakuta, Salomon Kalou, and Yossi Benayoun in that game due to injures and they could be sidelined for a few weeks.
Man. City also lost on Wednesday as they were beaten 2-1 away to West Brom in the Carling Cup. City sits in fourth place in the league with two wins, two draws, and a loss and are seven points adrift of Chelsea. For many fans that’s not good enough as they spent about $187 million on new players in the summer transfer window and have spent about $ 1 billion over the last couple of years.
Mancini and Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti both rested the majority of their top players in the Carling Cup games, so they should have all healthy hands on deck for their all-important matchup. And important it is, especially for City as they’ll fall 10 points behind Chelsea if they lose it. A loss would also put a lot of pressure on Mancini as there have already been calls for his scalp from frustrated City fans and his job could be on the line.
However, while Chelsea strikes fear into most opponents, City might head into the game with quite a bit of confidence as they beat Chelsea in both meetings last season, 2-1 at home and 4-2 away. But Chelsea has enjoyed more success on the road against City than they have against any other team as they’ve beaten them 10 times on the road since the inception of the Premier League.
While Chelsea boasts a superb record so far, all their games have come against the league’s weaker clubs. City’s biggest test was at home against Liverpool, and they passed it with flying colours by slamming them 3-0.
Chelsea welcomed back captain John Terry in midweek, but looks like they’ll be without ace midfielder Frank Lampard for the game. Still, they have more than enough scoring power to give the City defence headaches, especially if strikers Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba are partnered together and with City having a few defenders out with injury. Chelsea forward Florent Malouda is also red hot with six goals in the first five games, half of last season’s total of 12.
City also has quite a bit of talent with James Milner, Carlos Tevez, and Adam Johnson leading the way. The goalkeeping matchup is also a good one with two of the league’s best facing each other in City’s Joe Hart and Chelsea’s Peter Cech.
Chelsea should be able to do enough to keep their unbeaten string alive, but perhaps with a draw here instead of a win.
Betfair.com has the odds of a Chelsea win listed at 6/5, while a City win is 47/20 and the odds of a draw are 43/20.