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Costa ban can open door for Man City at Chelsea in top two battle

The last time Manchester City won a match at Stamford Bridge, hosts Chelsea had two men sent off. A certain star striker will be missing these Premier League title rivals doing battle, as Diego Costa has been banned for stamping on Liverpool’s Emre Can during the Capital One Cup semi-final second leg.

As a result, Coral have lengthened odds for Jose Mourinho’s men to beat City from evens to 11/10. The reigning champions are 11/4 to cause a huge upset at Stamford Bridge, which has been a veritable fortress for Chelsea. A draw, which was the result when these two met at the Etihad, is 23/10.

In this fixture last term, Chelsea beat City 2-1, and Coral offer an enhanced match special of 7/2 on a home win with both teams scoring. Please note there is a maximum stake of £20 on this bet.

With Mourinho not speaking to the media because of Costa’s suspension, it’s difficult to know who is in his thinking to replace the Brazilian-born Spain striker.

Loic Remy has failed to score in three previous appearances against City, while Didier Drogba last netted against the Eithad outfit in October 2007. Both are 7/4 chances to strike anytime.

Recent Chelsea scorers in recent head-to-heads Andre Schurrle, Fernando Torres, Demba Ba and Ryan Bertrand have left, are leaving or out on loan.

To make matters worse, creative force Cesc Fabregas is a major injury doubt as well, though Branislav Ivanovic is expected to shake off a knock to feature at right back. Eden Hazard and Oscar, both 2/1 in the anytime market, will have to step up, then.

Frank Lampard, meanwhile, prepares to return to the Bridge for the first time since leaving, and is a tasty 10/3 to hurt his former club by netting anytime. He was on target in the reverse fixture as an impact substitute, but may be handed a start by Manuel Pellegrini here.

City are not exactly at full strength either, with Ivory Coast pair Wilfried Bony and Yaya Toure away on international duty. Sergio Aguero is available, however, and 6/4 to net here, as well as 11/2 to grab the opener.

Montenegro forward Stevan Jovetic has an FA Cup goal against Chelsea on his CV, and may have more freedom in that number 10 position without Fabregas pulling strings in midfield. Odds of 11/4 say the reported Juventus target will score anytime.

The absence of key personnel for both sides and that Lampard subplot do act as a leveller for this hugely anticipated contest. Willian’s work rate wide right may be important, especially in helping to stop David Silva (10/3), though City have their own grafter in James Milner to help contain Chelsea’s supporting cast.

It’s on a knife edge but, with chief scorer Costa and main supplier Fabregas both set to miss out, City cannot afford to pass this golden opportunity up to close on their hosts and give the title race that extra twist neutrals crave. Odds of 11/4 say there will be under 1.5 total goals in this great game, and a 1-0 away win comes in at 11/1.