More can’t buy you love, but in football it can get you a seat at the high table. Tonight, Manchester City face Chelsea in what many see as a defining game in this season’s title race. Whilst Arsenal sit on top of the league before kick-off, following their 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace at the weekend, the vast amount of money invested in the two protagonists tonight, is the main reason why most pundits believe these will end up as the top two teams in May.
The Daily Express has reported that the game will be watched by some 100 million viewers across the world, and big numbers are the essence of the two clubs involved, as the most expensively assembled squads in the history of English football face off. The Express reports that City’s squad cost some £360million to assemble, whilst Chelsea’s is not far behind on some £340million, and whilst Roman Abamovich is estimated to have poured in the order of £2billion into his west London club, Sheikh Mansour is fast caching up with having spent over £1billion and counting, in much less than the half the time of the Russian’s tenure at Stamford Bridge. But enough of money. When the whistle blows, it will simply be a battle between two teams on the park.
City’s recent form makes them worthy favourites, and many expect Chelsea to adopt a similar posture as in the away games at Manchester United and Arsenal, that is seek to choke off their opponents threaten by flooding the midfield and look for a draw unless a win can be stolen on the break. It’s a dangerous game against City’s goal-machine forward line, but in the absence of the hamstrung Aguero, Mourinho may just fancy his chances of negating the more muscular but less intuitive forward thrusts of Negrado and Dzeko. It remains a tough task however.
With Chelsea’s striker still resembling a shot-shy collection, any hopes of a slug fest of goals can be discounted and the blues hopes will doubtless be largely pinned on the mercurial Eden Hazard producing one of his better performances and threatening down City’s flanks where there is at least a hint of vulnerability.
If you had to back your life on an outcome you’d have to go for City, but the blues have already trumped Pellegrini’s side when a late Torres ‘steal’ profited from a mix up between Nastasic and Hart, so there will be some confidence in the away team, if no little trepidation.
Expect a cagey game, and if Chelsea manage to score first, that may well intensify. If however City get ahead, as I would expect them to, Chelsea may be drawn out, and then a clear win for the home team could be on the cards.
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