Jose Mourinho has gone all out for this match. Overall this season the master of mind games has kept things to a minimum, only really going after Arsene Wegner. Leading up to this match though, he has gone out of his way to try and stir the pot up. He's gone off about City not following Financial Fair Play, talked a ton about Manuel Pellegrini, and told everyone who would listen how crappy his team is.
This game really means something to him, which is why it is going to be so satisfying to beat his Chelsea team. Hopefully.
This Chelsea team is a pretty weird one. They have an amazing keeper, a well-organized back line who seem hell-bent on blocking shots, and world-class attacking midfielders. Of course, they've paired that with an average midfield, and old, skill-declining strikers. This isn't a vintage Chelsea team, and they'll be way better next season as they bring in a few more players.
Fact of the matter is, they're still an intimidating team, capable of playing suffocating football. The first match at Stanford Bridge was extremely disappointing. Neither team looked particularly great, with City combining to look the worst. The freak Torres goal ratcheted up the pressure on this City squad, which took some time to calm down. If you recall, that's when Jose did a ridiculous celebration, leaping into the crowd. In addition, we didn't have Vinny that day, and it showed.
All of this goes to say, don't look for Pellegrini to take it easy today. I think he comes out playing furious football, and tries to blow Chelsea away in the first 15 to 20 minutes. Here's my predicted lineup.
Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasic, Kolarov, Fernandinho, Yaya, Silva, Navas, Dzeko, Negredo.
This is a pretty risky lineup, one that isn't going to be particularly great at retaining the ball, but will be scary on the counterattack. On the break, the combo of Yaya and Silva pulling strings, with Navas and Kolarov providing width is intimidating, and Dzeko and Negredo are currently riding a nice run of form.
Playing devil's advocate here, but I would start Yaya behind Negredo up front, and then play Fernandinho and Garcia in the midfield. That would allow more numbers in midfield defensively, but also retain the ball more and look for ways to unlock the Chelsea defense. I don't see Pellegrini playing this way. It hasn't been his style all season, and I don't think there's any reason for him to change today. He's a man who loves attacking football. In Pellegrini I trust.
Prediction: City 4 Chelsea 2. Dzeko and Negredo each score, as does Yaya.
Come on City!!!