When Chelsea and Manchester City meet at Eastlands tonight, it will be a match that could shape both sides chances for their respective ambitions. A win for Chelsea keeps the pressure on Tottenham and Arsenal for the last two Champions League places. Whereas a win for City keeps them on United’s heels in the race for the title. In the reverse fixture earlier in the season Chelsea came from behind to win 2-1, the result was meant to be a catalyst for better things to come but led to a series of bad results and the eventual release of manager Andre Villas-Boas.
Both teams could well be missing their captains when they walk on to the field, with John Terry having been ruled out and Vincent Kompany a doubt for the game, whilst defensive partner Joleon Lescott also unavailable. Both sides also face selection dilemmas up front, Roberto Di Matteo will have to decide which striker was more impressive on their last outing between Torres and Drogba. On the other hand Mancini faces leaving out one of his star strikers out the squad now with the return of Carlos Tevez, although the striker is unlikely to start it seems that he will be likely to see some action, even if it is only the thirty minutes the manager stated that he could play. There is the temptation on behalf of Di Matteo to play both Torres and Drogba, this could occur at the expense of Daniel Sturridge which would see Torres and Drogba rotate between playing out wide and the central striker role, which worked to great effect against Napoli.
In fact the Chelsea line up faces selection possibilities in virtually every position. Luiz, Cole and Ivanovic are expected to start as apart of the back four but it is again up to the manager to decide whether Cahill or Bosingwa will line up alongside the trio. If indeed it is Bosingwa, that would mean Ivanovic will partner Luiz at the back, although if Cahill were to start, Ivanovic would stay in his usual right back role and see Cahill partner David Luiz. Every game there will be questions as to which two midfielders should line up in the two man pivot role. Lampard was impressive against Napoli and Michael Essien became instrumental in breaking up play. However a very impressive performance on the weekend by Raul Meireles could see him retain his spot at the expense of one of the two previously mentioned. Another option would see Ramires dropped back into the holding role, however the Brazilian has put in brilliant performances of late out on the wings, the move could facilitate either a front three of Torres, Sturridge and Drogba or more likely see Frank Lampard occupy the No.10 role with Juan Mata pushed out wide to a left winger.
Predicted Chelsea XI – Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Luiz, Cole; Lampard, Essien; Ramires, Mata, Sturridge; Drogba
Have your say on who you think will start!