Chelsea won’t find it so easy to keep out free-scoring Manchester City
This is it. City v Chelsea. The Premier League 8/13 favourites against the 100/30 second favourites. The team with the most potent attack taking on the team with the meanest defence.
It is a massive test for both clubs. Chelsea have parked the bus at Manchester United and Arsenal this season and come away with goalless draws. But City are different gravy altogether. Can they thwart an attack that has scored an incredible 115 goals in 37 games in all competitions?
This is a big test for City as well. Yes, they have been scoring for fun and it’s difficult to find fault with a team which has smacked four past neighbours United, six past Arsenal and a total of 11 in two games past Spurs (and given a good hiding to several others, too, in both League and Cups).
But now they have to get past John Terry and Gary Cahill and find a way to outmanoeuvre a Chelsea side which will be prepared in every detail by Jose Mourinho to get something out of this massive fixture.
City have been especially awesome at home this season, winning all 11 matches while scoring close to four goals per game. The brilliant Sergio Aguero is out for a month with a hamstring injury, but Alvaro Negredo (4/5 to score again, 100/30 first or last ) and Edin Dzeko (6/4 and 11/2) have also been getting in on the act on a regular basis, while there’s also Montenegrin striker Stvevan Jovetic waiting in the wings.
If City have an Achilles heel it’s that they can be vulnerable to good counter-attacking sides. Arsenal were walloped at the Etihad, but they did score three times, while Bayern Munich also put three past them in the Champions League in October and could easily have scored more.
It might be asking a bit much of Chelsea to stick three past Joe Hart, but they won’t need to if their defence can hold out. Eden Hazard, Oscar and others will surely get chances to set up goal-scoring opportunities on the break – it may be a case of taking just one of them.
The Londoners will be desperate not to lose this – a defeat would hand a six-point advantage to their biggest title rivals.
Coral make a 1-1 draw their 11/2 favourite, but while I doubt whether City can brush Chelsea aside as easily as they have so many others this season, I do think that they will break them down often enough to beat them, maybe 2-0 (9/1) or 2-1 (15/2)