Chelsea travel to Manchester City this week as the two favourites for the Premier League title go head to head. The Blues are looking to bounce back from a tough opening weekend where they drew 2-2 at home to Swansea. City won their opener, and a victory this weekend would see them move five points clear of the champions.
That draw with Swansea seriously set back the Blues title challenge, as it has left supporters questioning their summer signings, or lack of. There are rumoured moves for more players, and it looks needed just to add some new blood. The team don’t look at their sharpest right now, which is worrying, as they came flying out of the traps this time last year.
The Swansea game showed that the team aren’t quite ready yet, but it also dealt another severe blow. The Blues had goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois sent off in the second half, and after an unsuccessful appeal he’s suspended for the next game. That means Asmir Begovic will make his first start at the Etihad, talk about a baptism of fire.
If last weekend is anything to go by, Begovic will be busy. The Blues were too open at the back, while City tore West Brom apart at every opportunity they got. The Citizens look to be up to speed fitness-wise, and their forward line looks incredibly dangerous. Adding Raheem Sterling to the mix just gives more problems for defences, who already had David Silva, Sergio Aguero and Yaya Toure to worry about.
City seem to have Toure back at his best, and the entire team has a hunger that they didn’t have last season. The title race should be a lot closer than last time around, with City genuine challengers. That means there’s a marker to be set down this weekend, but just who will do it?
Chelsea have a habit of getting their act together for these games. They’ve not lost to any of their top four rivals in the league for the last two seasons, and they’re built for games like this. Jose Mourinho will probably set up with a more defensive formation, putting Kurt Zouma or Ramires in beside Nemanja Matic.
We won’t get a classic game here, but we will hopefully see a more solid display from the Blues. Several members of the defence have had off days in the first two games, and they need to step up their game. It could be a lack of sharpness, or maybe just the lack of competition for places. Either way, the Chelsea defence need to be at their best this weekend.
Getting a result at the Etihad is a tough ask, but really Mourinho knows he can’t afford to fall five points behind, even this early. The manager would probably take a point, and that’s what we see him getting.
LCN Verdict: 0-0 draw