Can City stop Chelsea?
This Sunday marks the first meeting of this seasons outstanding title contenders. Chelsea make the long trip up the M6 to meet Manuel Pellegrini’s Manchester City, in what promises to be an intriguing early season battle. The league won’t be won or lost this Sunday but neither manager will want to lose the early initiative in this game and I fully expect a cagey affair, similar to the league games we saw between the two sides last season, in which Chelsea reigned supreme.
Both sides come into the game with disappointing results in their mid-week games with German opposition. I would argue that Chelsea’s result was the worse of the two, spurning the opportunity to take an expected three points against Schalke team who have endured a disappointing start to their league campaign. City made a return to a ground they picked up a famous victory on last season, however didn’t even get close to repeating such heroics as they fell to a late Munich winner to break City fans hearts. Chelsea will come into this one as slight favourites and largely down to the scintillating form of their newest signings Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa. I believe this is where City need to begin if they are going to end Chelsea’s 100% start to the season.
The partnership between Fabregas and Costa has been sublime but we saw on Wednesday how Chelsea could fare without their talisman upfront. Drogba replaced the injured Costa, who is expected to be fit for Sunday, and Chelsea couldn’t finish the job. If City can nullify the threat of Costa then they are half way to beating Chelsea and I truly believe City have the right man for the job. Vincent Kompany has long been courted as one of the best centre halves in the world and he has done nothing but support these claims in his last two appearances in sky blue. The man is an absolute beast and is made for the big occasions like Sunday. There isn’t a defender in the world more excited about pitting himself again Diego Costa than Vincent Kompany and if the big Belgian gets it right, Costa is in for a terrific battle.
With Diego Costa dealt with, City’s next mission is the seemingly invincible class of Cesc Fabregas. Cesc personifies and subsequently oozes class and guile and City need to find a way of stopping the dashing Spaniard. Once again I believe City have the tools in the arsenal to do so. When you talk about Brazilians your mind instantly wanders to outrageous skill, creativity and flair (and perhaps smoking hot women in thongs on the Copa). But not at the Etihad. At the Etihad if you are talking about Brazilians you talking about machines. Fernandinho has built a reputation at City for running through brick walls and his compatriot Fernando is quickly following suit. Whilst City sweat on the fitness of Fernando, Fernandinho proved on Wednesday that he is more than capable of smashing up play in a one man central midfield whilst Yaya Toure struggles to keep up with what’s going on. Toure has been accused of lacking interest of late, somewhat unfairly I believe, but Fernandinho has done Toure’s running for him. Ferni, as us City fans like to call him, has put in two titanic shifts in over the past two games against Arsenal and Munich and if he can find another on Sunday then he has a very good chances of keeping Fabregas at bay.
The final thing City need to do is something they did impeccably at home last season and that’s bring the noise. One of the only criticisms from Wednesday’s game with Munich is in the second half City offered little in the way of attacking threat and they can’t afford to do the same this Sunday. Sergio Aguero is likely to start and all City need to do is get him the ball in the final third and watch the magic happen. There’s a reason you can find his name tattoo’d on my backside and that’s because he’s an absolute demon in front of goal and always delivers in the big games. This is another game when your team needs you Sir Sergio, so please arise. If City can keep Chelsea contained and Sergio does his thing City are in for a good afternoon and the beer will be flowing all over Manchester… and probably here in Nottingham too.