Roberto Mancini and Rafa Benitez have named starting line-ups for Man City V Chelsea, kick off 1:30pm
Man City Team: Hart, Zabaleta, Kolo Toure, Nastasic, Clichy, Garcia, Milner, Rodwell, Silva, Yaya Toure, Aguero
Chelsea Team: Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, David Luiz, Cole; Mikel, Lampard (c); Ramires, Mata, Hazard, Ba
Manchester City welcome Chelsea to Eastlands at high noon on Sunday for a ‘Title Eliminator’. Anything less then a win for either side will signal the conclusion of any potential challenge.
Manchester United’s routine dominance over the last few months has resulted in each slip from their two main title rivals being ruthlessly exposed.
At twelve points back with twelve games to play Man City are the immediate challengers. Manager Roberto Mancini believes they need to win all but one of their remaining games to regain the title. City are in the comfortable position of having Champions League football all but secured for next season. Nine points ahead of Arsenal in fifth place they needn’t be glancing over their shoulders, instead focusing solely on catching their Manchester Rivals.
Chelsea are in such a position that they are unsure whether to look up nor down. Aspirations of a higher finish must be tempered by the danger of missing out on Champions League qualification altogether. With only five points separating them and fifth placed Arsenal, a defeat on Sunday could have big implication for the final make up of the top four.
It is in this sector of the season that other competitions become a distraction for teams challenging for honours. Chelsea’s laboured win over Sparta Prague on Thursday night leaves them only 62hours to recover for Sunday’s tie. City are reaping the benefits of a lacklustre Champions League campaign. Having 7 or 8 days to prepare for a game gives you an advantage before a ball is even kicked.
Under Rafa Benitez Chelsea’s play has lacked conviction. In Eden Hazard, Oscar and Juan Mata they have three of the best creative midfielders in the league, but end product is an ongoing issue. Fernando Torres is still suffering from his ‘Space Jam’esque’ talent robbery while Demba Ba has provided moments of relief but no consistent answer thus far.
City’s last league victory came almost a month ago against Stoke. Since then they have drawn to QPR and Liverpool while losing to Southampton. Last weeks FA Cup victory over Leeds signalled a rejuvenated attacking force, and with Aguero, Tevez and Dzeko all firing there may be some story-lines left in this title race just yet.
Prediction: Man City