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Match Preview: Chelsea @ Manchester City


Well, it's finally here. The match of the season to date awaits Manchester City and Chelsea at Eastlands tomorrow, with City sitting in 4th place and Chelsea atop the table. A result for the Blues will not only prove that they belong in the top 4, and all three points would mean that Manchester City have a legitimate chance at the Premier League title. 

On the injury front, Micah Richards has been ruled out with a hamstring injury, along with Wayne Bridge and Aleksandar Kolarov. There's a little hope for Joleon Lescott and Jerome Boateng, though, who will need to be checked out before the game. 

Chelsea will be without Frank Lampard once again, and so have already named their starting XI: 

Ivanovic - Alex  - Terry - Cole
Ramires - Essien
Anelka - Drogba - Malouda

With all the defensive injuries, the key for City tonight is very obviously to slow down Florent Malouda and Didier Drogba. The midfields will sort themselves out, and I'm pretty confident that de Jong, Barry, and Y. Toure can acquit themselves well against Essien and Mikel. It's worrisome, however, when you start to think that Dedryck Boyata may be pressed into duty against Malouda. That's something to keep your eye on as the match develops. 

Offensively, Manchester City needs to exploit the aging legs of John Terry. While still very good positionally, Terry will find it rough sailing if he tries to keep up with the speed of David Silva and the workmanship of Carlos Tevez and James Milner. If Silva can unlock Chelsea's back four with some nifty passes, I would not be surprised to see Tevez in behind rather easily. Keep in mind that City's attackers are by far the most potent Chelsea have faced thus far. 

Here's how I hope Roberto Mancini begins tomorrow's match: 

Zabaleta - Kompany  - Toure - Lescott 
Barry - de Jong
Y. Toure
Milner -  Silva
Whatever the result, there's no doubt that it'll be a riveting contest. It's City's possession based game against the free flowing attack of Chelsea. Drogba v. Kompany, Tevez v. Terry, etc. Manchester City's resilience will be tested in a way that they haven't been so far, and I think they may be up to the task - sort of. Put this one down for an entertaining 2-2 draw, and make sure to check out our Q&A with a Chelsea blogger from yesterday, and the blog itself - We Ain't Got No History.