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Manchester City v Chelsea: Preview
Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini has to cope with a defensive injury crisis ahead of Saturday's Eastlands clash with Barclays Premier League leaders Chelsea.
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Micah Richards (hamstring), Wayne Bridge (thigh) and Aleksandar Kolarov (ankle) are definitely out, and the fitness of Joleon Lescott (groin) and Jerome Boateng (knee) will need to be checked before Mancini can finalise his line-up.
Further forward, Emmanuel Adebayor returns after missing four matches with a dead leg, but Shaun Wright-Phillips (knee) is also out.
Roberto Mancini has already conceded the Premier League title to Chelsea. Mancini's Manchester City side tackle the champions with a patched-up side containing just three fully-fit senior defenders.
It is hardly the backdrop he wanted heading into one of the key games of the campaign, and not one that was anticipated when City were spending in excess of £100million this summer.
However, according to Mancini, the result will not have an affect on where the championship ends up this season.
"Chelsea are the best team in the Premier League at the moment," he said.
"They are probably going to win the Premier League title easily.
"They are a strong team, who have been playing together for many years. They have a fantastic manager and they have worked to reach this situation."
Chelsea will be without Salomon Kalou and Yossi Benayoun for three weeks while Frank Lampard has not shaken off his hernia problem in time to play.
Kalou and Benayoun were expected to be out for up to a month after suffering thigh and calf injuries respectively in the 4-3 Carling Cup defeat by Newcastle.
Paulo Ferreira drops to the bench to make way for captain John Terry, who returned in midweek after missing the 4-0 win over Blackpool five days ago with a rib injury, while Nicolas Anelka is set to replace Kalou in the only other change from last week.
Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti laughed off suggestions from Mancini that the Blues have already won the title. Chelsea sit four points clear at the top of the Barclays Premier League with five straight wins over West Brom, Wigan, Stoke, West Ham and newly-promoted Blackpool.
The Blues opened the season with successive 6-0 wins over West Brom and Wigan and Mancini has since hinted that, as far as he was concerned, it is Chelsea's title to lose.
However, Ancelotti would not be drawn into playing any kind of mind games with his former national team-mate.
"I agree with him," said Ancelotti.
"It's not a mind game, I know him very well and so he knows us very well. He knows our ability.
"You have to build a mentality of a team. He doesn't have an easy job, he is doing his best. I hope the club appreciate it.
"He's very competitive manager because he has experience, he has ability to read the game.
"It's a very good relationship, we were team-mates in the national team in the past. I met him two months ago in Manchester, the relationship is very good.
"Every game is easy after you win 6-0. You can say it was easy then.
"Before every game it is difficult. We started the season well but now we have another game, a different opponent and City are a strong team, they have a lot of player with a lot of skills.
"We have to prepare for the game well and do our best to play our football for 90 minutes."
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