Preview: Chelsea v Man City

25 February 2010 03:48
The match of the weekend takes place at Stamford Bridge where leaders Chelsea entertain fifth-placed Manchester City. One of the many sub-plots to the game sees John Terry and Wayne Bridge meet on the pitch for the first time since they hit the front as well as the back pages, with Bridge earlier this week saying he did not want to play for England again in the wake of the affair. The match also pits two of English football's biggest spenders together. Chelsea, backed by Roman Abramovich's massive wealth since he took over the club almost seven years ago, come up against a City side that has been revamped since the takeover by the Abu Dhabi United Group 18 months ago. While Chelsea have been battling it out with Manchester United and, to a lesser extent Arsenal and Liverpool, for domestic honours since 2003, City have spent the last seven years attempting to establish themselves as a Premier League club following their relegation to the third tier of English football in the last 1990s. They are challenging for a Champions League place this year but, with a tough run-in and talk of friction between boss Roberto Mancini and some of his senior players, that still seems unlikely. They seemed happy to settle for a point from last Sunday's dire goalless stalemate with fellow top-four pretenders Liverpool at Eastlands when three points would surely have put themselves in the driving seat. It leaves them with just two victories from their last six league matches as criticism of Mancini's perceived negative tactics grows ever louder. Carlos Tevez looks set to feature after missing the last three games as he had decided to return to Argentina to care for his wife who had given birth to their second child prematurely. However, veteran midfielder Patrick Vieira is suspended while Stiliyan Petrov and Michael Johnson (both knee) remain on the sidelines. Chelsea remain virtually invincible at home, winning 12 of their 13 Premier League games at Stamford Bridge so far this term, with a 3-3 draw against Everton spoiling their perfect record. Since losing 2-1 at Eastlands in December, Carlo Ancelotti's team have lost just one of their 12 league matches and have emerged as the favourites to win the title for the first time in four years. Ashley Cole (ankle) definitely misses out while Alex, Juliano Belletti, Jose Bosingwa, Deco and Michael Essien are all close to comebacks after struggling with knee problems recently. Last season in the capital, Chelsea edged to a 1-0 victory against City with Essien on the scoresheet.

Source: ESA