In most cases, matches in the second week of the season usually don't carry much weight. But for both teams this Sunday, this game will prove to be a very early, yet crucial test of mettle and might for the 2015/16 campaign.
City see themselves playing their first home match against the defending champions and manager Jose Mourinho, who come in to Manchester with quite a few distractions. This leaves the Blues looking to improve upon a nearly perfect match that was played last Monday at the Hawthornes against West Brom and stay atop the table where red rivals Manchester United currently reside.
A key aspect to this match will be the absence of Belgian keeper Thibeaut Courtois, who is currently facing a three match ban after picking up a straight red for a challenge against Swansea's Gomis. This leaves Asmir Begovich with the task of leading the Chelsea back line and dealing with the possession heavy City forwards. The last time Begovich faced City, Stoke gave up four goals in a loss.
On the City end of things (we thought we would never get there), David Silva and Yaya Toure look to continue the form seen in Monday's match, where Yaya showed sheer power and class after scoring
two against the Baggies. Striker Sergio Aguero will likely be on after sixty minutes as he says he's not fully fit to play the entire game as of yet. So look for Wilfred Bony to get the start.
One of the key matchups for this game will be on the left side of the pitch, as Raheem Sterling and Branislov Ivanovich go up against one another. Ivanovich had a very pedestrian game against Swansea last weekend, struggling to keep up with the pace of the Swan's Jefferson Montero. Sterling, who showed a few signs of promise in Monday's match against the Baggies, including a one on one opportunity that was saved, has to be salivating at the opportunity to redeem himself against Chelsea. If you recall, Sterling had a fantastic goal against Chelsea last January while at Liverpool, where he took on the entire back line.
Defensively, the back line looked more than confident and competent against West Brom. Captain Vincent Kompany paired with Elaquim Mangala to martial the middle of the park while Kolarov and Sagna patrolled the touch line and provided great linkup play to Sterling, Silva and Jesus Navas. Whether or not Pellegrini keeps this defensive set up is left to be seen. Chelsea's Eden Hazard is a constant threat, and Loic Remy can also prove to be dangerous if given the opportunity, so maintaining consistency is something that both Pellegrini and the back line must take seriously.
Expect City to come out very aggressive against Chelsea. It is their opening home match of the season and the newly expanded Etihad should be booming. Chelsea will undoubtedly be prepared to play, and all distractions from their side will be dealt with by kickoff. However, if City's form that was seen against West Brom in last Monday's match continues, expect the lighter shade of blue to prevail over their London counterparts.