Showdown at Stamford Bridge
Six clubs involved seriously in the race for the Premiership title, instead of the usual three or four, means many more huge games to look forward to over the course of the season and one of them is undoubtedly Sunday afternoon’s titanic clash between Chelsea and Manchester City.
Coral have these two clubs at the head of their Premier League list (City 7/4, Chelsea 5/2) and we can be sure that both sides will be fighting tooth and nail not to give the other a crucial edge.
Jose Mourinho has been having a dig at Manuel Pellegrini in the run-up to the game, but that’s just more talk from the Chelsea boss and we can forget all about it when it all kicks off at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea didn’t start the campaign impressively, but have settled down and look in a better spirits than City at this particular moment, quite apart from being one point and two places above them in the table.
They have recovered well from their early reverse in the Champions League and Mourinho will also be pleased with the way Fernando Torres is playing. The much criticised striker may never be quite as good as he was a few years back, but he is scoring goals and smiling again (the two things go together). Ashley Cole could be back, too, after recovering from his rib injury.
City are still without their star defender Vincent Kompany, which means that Javi Garcia may be filling in again, a midfielder who looks even more out of place at centre back than David Luiz does for Chelsea.
And the light blues may still not have that humiliating home hammering by Bayern Munich out of their system, the manner of which must have bruised their egos even more than losing out in close Premiership tussles with Cardiff and Aston Villa.
It is really tight at the top and things could look quite different very quickly. For instance, Man United have already been written off by many as title contenders this time around, but if they beat Stoke at home and City lose to Chelsea – a feasible scenario – then there will be only two points between them
Mourinho has never lost a Premier League game at home and he won’t risk that record by going all gung-ho against a side he knows has the ammunition to damage them on the break.
If the Portuguese adopts the same cautious approach he did at Old Trafford, it could be the same outcome, 0-0 (14/1).
But I think Chelsea could just edge it 1-0 (10/1) and such a tight game might be won at a set piece by somebody like Luiz or John Terry (both 25/1 to score first or last, 8/1 at any time), if Torres (7/1 and 2/1) fires blanks. Coral’s 17/5 under 1.5 goals also appeals.