Manchester City vs Chelsea: Battles to be won on and off the pitch!
It's arguably, the biggest game of our season and at this early stage, Chelsea have a chance ...
It's arguably, the biggest game of our season and at this early stage, Chelsea have a chance to move eight points clear of our title rivals. In order for that to happen, battles need to be won both on and off of the pitch!
It's games such as the one this afternoon where Jose Mourinho comes to the fore. Last season, Chelsea were unbeaten against the top four as the special one knows exactly what it takes to get the job done. The boss needs to be at it again at the Etihad in our sternest test of the season so far.
Much is being said about Costa, Fabregas and Hazard this season already but if Chelsea are to succeed this afternoon, we need ALL eleven players to win their own individual battles. Players such as Courtois, Cahill, Azpilicueta and Matic all need to dominate to deliver three important points. We did exactly that in the game here last season so I see no reason why we can't again today.
I do have a concern heading into this one and that's been the fact that we are conceding goals. In some instances, we have been blown wide open in games and luckily enough in the Premier League, it has not cost us. Against City, we simply cannot afford to let that happen because they WILL punish you.
We cannot afford to give the likes of Aguero, Silva, Toure, Navas, Nasri and Dzeko any space in and around our box as they will hurt you. Last season, David Luiz and Nemanja Matic delivered the defensive performance that was all part of the Mourinho tactical master plan. Questions remain whether or not he will choose to adopt the same approach this afternoon.
Chelsea really, really do need to be solid in defence and give our attacking players the base to build from. Once again, Jose will be looking for those players to get back and help out defensively, but to also hurt City when we have possession of the ball.
Eden Hazard was simply outstanding last year at the Etihad and caused City all sorts of defensive problems. We need him to cause havoc again.
In addition, Cesc Fabregas needs to continue doing what he does best and that's to orchestrate our midfield. His link up play and understanding with Diego Costa has been a key feature in those early games and it could be vital. It will be interesting to see where the boss decides to deploy Fabregas. Does he play him next to Matic or further forward?
What can you say about Diego Costa? Not exactly 100% fit but who cares at the moment! He hasn't been since the beginning of the season and just look what he has achieved so far. The battle he is due to have with Vincent Kompany is THE one I am looking forward to. If he can bully him, keep his head and dominate him, then I believe that's half the job done.
As much as I respect Manchester City and the threat they pose, I cannot see Chelsea losing this game. Whether we will only pick up a point, to me that's the worst that can happen. Chelsea are so, so strong now and City have one hell of a job on to beat the players and our manager.
Jose Mourinho is the man for the occasion. He is a tactical genius and once again Manuel Pellegrini has to try and out-think him. Let's face it, City won the league last season because Chelsea threw it away by struggling against the so-called lesser sides.
Come on Chelsea, get out there and deliver the kind of performance we know you are capable of. Deliver the result we know we can achieve and lay down a marker for everyone to sit up and take notice of for the season.
It's time for the "little horse" to become a Stallion and gallop all over the Etihad!