Sun 25 Nov 2012 16:00 (Attendance: 41,792)
A week of change ends with a visit from the league leaders. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton look at the prospects for a change in results too…
After all has been said and done over the last few days Chelsea have the chance to finish the weekend one point behind the current leaders, Manchester City. This is the sixth league trip for the Citizens - they have so far played two more home games than aways.
Many supporters recognised that this would be a season of transition and that a top-four finish in May would represent an achievement. The Blues are actually 10 points up on last season in like-for-like games, but the champions finished 25 ahead on the final table. Beating City would haul back a title favourite and restore fragile confidence after a run of two points gained from a possible 12 while only matching last season's result.
The Londoners have a great record against the Mancunians at the Bridge, winning six of the last seven meetings with an aggregate score of 18-5. Last season Raul Meireles cancelled out an early goal for the visitors before substitute Frank Lampard netted a late winner from the spot (pictured below).
City had arrived at the Bridge in the corresponding fixture last December as the only unbeaten club of the 92 in the league and having scored five in their previous game - precisely the same scenario as this year.
They did win our Community Shield encounter in August 3-2, but against 10 men, Branislav Ivanovic seeing red three minutes before half-time. Yet they have not looked the same force so far this season. And Roberto Mancini, chewing his usual Fruit Pastilles, watched his side crash out early from the Champions League at home to Real on Wednesday.
Chelsea's poor display in Turin the night before leaves the club requiring Shakhtar to beat Juve on matchday six while we hopefully gain three points against Nordsjaelland.
It also means we bid farewell and say thank you to Roberto Di Matteo. Among the memories he takes with him are victories over fierce rivals Tottenham and Liverpool at Wembley and, indelibly, Munich in May.
People have pointed to the synchronicity of the last two Chelsea managers losing their job following a loss on Italian soil in the Champions League and domestic defeat at West Bromwich Albion.
No new Chelsea coach has previously faced our club from the opposite bench more times than interim chief Rafael Benítez. David Calderhead had engaged with the Pensioners six times before being hired in 1907, Leslie Knighton (prior to 1933) 19, Ron Suart (1974) 16, John Neal (1981) four, Bobby Campbell (1988) seven, and Glenn Hoddle (1994), Guus Hiddink (2009), and Roberto Di Matteo (2012) one apiece.
Unsurprisingly, Benítez has also locked horns with Chelsea more than any other club in his coaching career. Of the 26 matches involved, the Blues won 12 and drew and lost seven. Those included such high-profile matches as a League Cup final, three Champions League semi-finals and one quarter-final, and one FA Cup semi-final.
Whatever the emotions stirred, the argument about a club requiring stability in the dugout is a flawed one. Since removing the incumbent, Claudio Ranieri in 2004, Roman Abramovich has appointed nine managers while Arsenal and Manchester United have retained the same man throughout.
Over that period the Blues have won 10 trophies (excluding two Community Shield victories) - more than anyone else. United have gathered nine pieces of silverware over the same period, and the Gunners just one.
Across Europe's major leagues, Internazionale have also hit double figures over the nine years, as well as scooping the FIFA Club World Cup (with Rafael Benítez in charge). Even 'all-conquering' Barcelona can only equal Chelsea's 10 major pots, plus two Club World Cups and one UEFA Super Cup.
The Citizens have scored one goal more than Chelsea, and conceded three fewer. Where they have excelled is in responding to conceding first in the league. It has happened five times to them and they have responded to gain 11 points. Chelsea's record is three points from going behind three times.
A City win would inflict a third successive defeat on Chelsea for the first time since May/Aug 2006 when we lost the last two league games against Blackburn and Newcastle (having already won the Premier League) and the Community Shield against Liverpool.
The last hat-trick of defeats when it mattered was in Sept/Oct 2002 when our embarrassing reverse at Viking Stavanger in the UEFA Cup was sandwiched between league defeats at home to West Ham and away to Liverpool.
Barclays Premier League fixtures
Sunderland v West Brom 12.45pm - Sky Sports
Everton v Norwich 3pm
Manchester United v QPR 3pm
Stoke v Fulham 3pm
Wigan v Reading 3pm
Aston Villa v Arsenal 5.30pm - ESPN
Swansea v Liverpool 1.30pm - Sky Sports
Southampton v Newcastle 3pm
Chelsea v Manchester City 4pm - Sky Sports
Tottenham v West Ham 4pm
Sunderland v QPR 7.45pm
Aston Villa v Reading 8pm - Sky Sports
|Barclays Premier League table top six|
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Ex-Chelsea winger Clive Walker joins up with club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton for the second half of their look ahead to Sunday's Stamford Bridge fixture…
On the pitch this Sunday the story is about attempting to take three points from a title rival. Former Blue Clive Walker weighs up what might swing the game Chelsea's way.
'This is obviously a massive match for all sorts of reasons even before the developments this week. I feel very sad for Robbie Di Matteo but that's football. He can leave with his head held high.
'Now, with Rafael Benítez as interim Chelsea manager, you have two former Inter bosses facing each other, and both have quite a few questions to answer.
'Roberto Mancini is under a little more pressure because his team have flopped again in Europe at the group stage. Long-term it might help him in the league if they finish last in the group as he won't have the Europa League games to factor in.
'I think City would take a draw before kick off and the onus will be on us, and that can be dangerous.
'City have not really kicked on from what they had last season, even the likes of Yaya Touré and Vincent Kompany, who were absolutely terrific throughout the last campaign.
'As we are finding, as champions of Europe, other teams are upping their game and asking more questions: everyone wants to beat them. Their players and their manager are under more pressure to prove themselves and there's an edge to every game that maybe wasn't there before.
'The first question Benítez has to answer is can he organise Chelsea's defence, which hasn't kept a clean sheet for 10 games and is very un-Chelsea-like; he has to do that against a City side with four top-drawer forwards too.
'I don't think anyone can doubt how much we have really missed John Terry. Without him we don't look anywhere near as organised and Benitez will see that as something he can improve on straight away.
'Next is reproducing the best from Fernando Torres, who didn't have a shot at West Brom.
'Benítez obviously had him on fire at Anfield so can they rekindle the flame at the Bridge? They certainly had a rapport before and you'd like to think he can turn Torres around.
'Kompany was reported to have left on crutches after Man City's draw with Real Madrid on Wednesday and is an injury doubt, and from the Chelsea perspective as a forward you would always prefer to face City without their Belgian skipper.
'This is a match when the respective attacks will be on top and that's why Torres's performance will be so important. Chelsea don't quite have the resources in the striker department that Mancini does. Having Sergio Agüero, Mario Balotelli, Carlos Tévez, and an effective sub like Edin Dzeko, is a luxury.
'You can see Mancini is less confident about his back line and he is criticised for not knowing his best 11. He has opted for a back three with wing-backs and I wonder if it's something he wants to move to on a permanent basis, or because he has the players to play that system.
'Maicon, for example, is an attacking full-back, not a defensive one. Kolarov too. It should make sense. I'm not certain the centre-backs are convinced, even if Mancini seems to be.
'That was the system that Juventus used to unpick Chelsea but do City have the same smooth-running operation that allows Pirlo and Vidal to thrive?
'Changing formations can create problems and confusion. You saw that on the Real goal, where City easily outnumbered Madrid's two in the box but Benzema still had a free touch to score their goal.
'Chelsea need to be taking exactly those same kind of chances when they are offered. Had Eden Hazard finished in Turin after Oscar's lovely run we might have had a totally different scenario unfold.
'Top clubs, whichever player it is, put away chances at the right times when the opportunity arises. We're not doing it; a lot of clubs are not doing it either. We have to be a lot more ruthless.
'One warning from midweek is that David Silva seems to be coming into form. He is a world-class player, one of those who pops up in gaps and spaces. Sometimes he drifts out of the fray if you stop the supply to him, and that's something we have to try to do.'
Man City have to make decisions on Mario Balotelli (back), Gael Clichy (ankle) and Vincent Kompany (knee). Jack Rodwell (hamstring) and Micah Richards (knee) are out.
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WE HAVE HISTORY
This fixture was first fulfilled almost 105 years ago at Stamford Bridge in the First Division. Fifty thousand spectators watched a 2-2 draw in perfect winter weather on 7 December 1907 as the newly-promoted Pensioners came from behind twice through 'Gatling Gun' George Hilsdon and Billy Brawn to draw 2-2. Walter Smith was City's hero, making a string of saves.
One of the most memorable encounters took place 52 years ago to the week on 19 November 1960. Bert Trautmann was the Citizens' keeper tasked with picking the ball out of the net six times, including three times from the prolific Jimmy Greaves, and twice from his strike partner Ron Tindall. Bobby Tambling (pictured below) netted the eighth of his 202 goals that day.
The scoring sequence entertained the crowd throughout a remarkable first half: 3-0 to Chelsea, 3-1, 4-2, then 5-2 by half time. Both sides took a breather in the second half, the final score being 6-3.
Manchester City have scored in only two of their last 10 matches at Stamford Bridge.
The Citizens have won five of the last seven meetings between the clubs since December 2009.
City have won two top-flight league games at Stamford Bridge in 20 attempts over 34 years.
Our last 10 league meetings at Stamford Bridge
2002/03 - Chelsea won 5-0
2003/04 - Chelsea won 1-0
2004/05 - Drew 0-0
2005/06 - Chelsea won 2-0
2006/07 - Chelsea won 3-0
2007/08 - Chelsea won 6-0
2008/09 - Chelsea won 1-0
2009/10 - Man City won 4-2
2010/11 - Chelsea won 2-0
2011/12 - Chelsea won 2-1
Other match last season
21 March 2012 Barclays Premier League
Man City……..….…2 Chelsea………..……1
Agüero 77 pen Cahill 59
FA Community Shield this season
12 August 2012 Villa Park
Man City……..….…3 Chelsea………..……2
Y Touré 52 Torres 39
Tévez 58 Bertrand 79
Chelsea v Manchester City in all competitions
Games played 144
Chelsea wins 61
City wins 47
Head to head in the League at Stamford Bridge
Games played 67
Chelsea wins 34
City wins 13
Biggest league win at Stamford Bridge for each team
27/10/2007 - Chelsea 6-0 Manchester City
16/09/1978 - Chelsea 1-4 Manchester City
Chelsea won in the Premier League: 35
City lost in the Premier League: 231
Arsenal won a trophy: 2,745
Liverpool won the league: 8,240
Visit again tomorrow for part two of the Briefing.
Chelsea have used 19 players in the Barclays Premier League this term, fewer than any other club.
The Blues are 10 points better off after 12 games compared to the corresponding games last season.
Liverpool was the eighth occasion we opened the scoring in a Premier League game this term and the second game in succession we didn't go onto win the game.
Chelsea have won just two points from the last 12 available.
Although we haven't kept a clean sheet in seven Premier League matches (10 in all games), only Norwich, Stoke and West Ham (five) have kept more than Chelsea's four.
We have won 18 of our 25 matches at Stamford Bridge in 2012. The two defeats were against Newcastle and Man Utd.
|Last six results|
|Oct 31||Manchester United (League Cup h)||W 5-4 aet|
|Nov 3||Swansea (a)||D 1-1|
|Nov 7||Shakhtar Donetsk (Champions League h)||W 3-2|
|Nov 11||Liverpool (h)||D 1-1|
|Nov 17||West Brom (a)||L 1-2|
|Nov 20||Juventus (Champions League a)||L 0-3|
Premier League scorers
Mata 4, Torres 4, Hazard 3 (1 pen), Ivanovic 3, Lampard 3 (2 pens), Cahill 2, Cole 1, Moses 1, Ramires 1, Sturridge 1, Terry 1. Total 24
A home win: 2
League games since
|Chelsea's next three games|
|Wed 28 Nov||Fulham home||7.45pm|
|Sat 1 Dec||West Ham away||12.45pm|
|Wed 5 Dec||Nordsjaelland (Champions League) home||7.45pm|
We need two more goals for the half century for the season. Today is our 22nd match.
MAN CITY STATS
3 League championships, last in 2012
5 FA Cups, last in 2011
2 League Cups, last in 1976
4 FA Charity/Community Shields, last in 2012
1 European Cup Winners' Cup in 1970
Man City are unbeaten in 18 Premier League games. Their last defeat was at the Emirates against Arsenal on 8 April.
West Ham are the only team Manchester City have failed to score against this term.
City have gained 14 points from losing positions which is the second best record in the Premier League. Seventy per cent of their goals have come in the last half an hour.
They have won nine points from a possible 15 on the road winning at Fulham and West Brom and draws with Liverpool, Stoke and West Ham.
Joe Hart and Yaya Touré are the only players to have started all 12 Premier League games this season.
Manager Roberto Mancini
Days in charge: 1,071
|City's last 10 year league history|
|Last six results|
|Oct 27||Swansea (h)||W 1-0|
|Nov 3||West Ham (a)||D 0-0|
|Nov 6||Ajax (Champions League h)||D 2-2|
|Nov 11||Tottenham (h)||W 2-1|
|Nov 17||Aston Villa (h)||W 5-0|
|Nov 21||Real Madrid (Champions League h)||D 1-1|
Premier League scorers
Džeko 6, Tévez 6 (1 pen), Agüero 5 (1 pen), Y Touré 2, Garcia 1, Kolarov 1, Lescott 1, Milner 1, Nasri 1, Silva 1. Total 25
League games since
An away win: 1
An away draw: 0
An away defeat: 8
CITY'S MAJOR SUMMER MOVES
Ins Javi Garcia (Benfica, £16m), Jack Rodwell (Everton, £12m), Scott Sinclair (Swansea, £6.2m), Maicon (Inter Milan, £3m), Matija Nastasic (Fiorentina, £12m), Richard Wright (unattached)
Outs Adam Johnson (Sunderland, £10m), Nigel De Jong (AC Milan, £3.5m), Emmanuel Adebayor (Tottenham, £5m), Stefan Savic (Fiorentina, undisclosed), Vladimir Weiss (Pescara, £1.32m), Wayne Bridge (Brighton, loan), Stuart Taylor (released, now Reading), Owen Hargreaves (released), Dedryck Boyata (Twente, loan), Roque Santa Cruz (Malaga, loan)
THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE
Chris Foy is the official for his first Chelsea game in over a year, since our defeat at QPR 13 months ago. Chelsea have enjoyed a 71% success rate in games with him charge.
Rafael Benitez's reign as Chelsea interim manager saw the Blues and Manchester City play out a goalless draw, only the second occasion this season on which we've failed to score in the league.
On reflection, it was probably a fair result, and while Roberto Mancini's side will feel they should have won it, Benitez will be pleased to have seen his men keep a clean sheet for the first time since the 4-0 win against Nordsjaelland at the beginning of last month.
Pablo Zabaleta, David Silva and Sergio Aguero all wasted good chances for the away side in the first half, and after the break Ashley Cole cleared one off the line.
Our best opportunity fell to Fernando Torres midway through the second half, but the striker fired over after a deflection had fallen kindly for him, while Joe Hart saved well to deny Cole.
Attention now turns towards a crucial London derby on Wednesday against Fulham, when Benitez will be hoping to earn his first win as Chelsea manager.
Benitez's first game in charge of the Blues saw the Spaniard recall Torres to the starting line-up after he was left out for the midweek defeat against Juventus. Branislav Ivanovic partnered David Luiz in central defence, while Cesar Azpilicueta started his fourth league game in a row at right-back. Juan Mata, Oscar and Eden Hazard were entrusted with supplying the ammunition for Torres tucked in behind.
With much of the pre-match talk focused on the transition in management at the club, it was easy to forget that there was a football match taking place.
It was the visitors who had the first real sight of goal after a David Luiz clearance had been pounced on by Zabaleta. The defender exchanged passes with Silva and it took a last-ditch clearance from Cole to deny the Argentinian.
As an attacking unit, we were struggling to impose ourselves during the opening exchanges, with both Vincent Kompany - who had passed a late fitness test - and Matija Nastasic dealing with the threat of Torres quite comfortably.
When that defence was breached, by a delightful Mata pass, Torres was unable to bring the ball under control, allowing Joe Hart to collect easily.
The best chance of the game fell to Manchester City moments later when Zabaleta crossed from the right and Silva, under no pressure, headed inches over the bar.
As a spectacle, the game was struggling to get going, but with the Blues having failed to keep a clean sheet for the past 10 games, perhaps it was to be expected that Benitez's immediate concern was to make us harder to break down.
Silva then had a low drive blocked by Azpilicueta after we'd failed to clear our lines, while at the other end some lovely link-up play between Oscar and Mata almost released Cole.
Zabaleta, who had been a constant threat throughout the first half, forced a decent save out of Petr Cech, this time after intercepting a poor Ramires pass, feeding Edin Dzeko and taking the return in his stride.
We had to wait until six minutes before the break for our first real attempt on the City goal, David Luiz's free-kick from distance running tamely through to Hart.
It was Mancini's side looking the more likely as the half wore on, and Aguero wasted the best chance of the game, heading straight into the arms of Cech after he was found in acres of space by Dzeko.
Ramires had the first sight of goal seven minutes after the restart, fizzing his strike just over Hart's bar from outside the penalty area.
City's response was instant, surging forward at pace, and the Blues were grateful to see Yaya Toure over-hit his pass with Aguero screaming for the ball inside the box.
As the game began to heat up, Cech did well to save a bouncing Toure effort which threatened to deceive him, while Torres was beginning to make a nuisance of himself in the final third.
The Spanish striker could, and probably should, have broken the deadlock on the hour, smashing a left-footed effort over the bar after it had fallen invitingly into his path, but there was no denying that the match itself was opening up as both sides looked to seize the initiative.
Shortly after it was the away side who threatened again, Dzeko and Silva combining down the left-hand side, but it was Cole to the rescue once more, clearing the Bosnian's teasing centre off the line as everybody else hesitated.
It was to prove Dzeko's final contribution as he was replaced by Carlos Tevez - so often a thorn in our side - in the 68th minute.
The arrival of Moses saw Mata switch to the left, with the substitute taking his place wide on the right and Oscar continuing through the middle behind Torres.
As the heavens opened, Benitez opted for another substitution, replacing Mikel Obi with Oriol Romeu in a straight swap, but it was the away side who were pressing forward in search of a winner, and Cech was forced into another intelligent stop, this time at his near-post from Milner.
The Blues, though, were equally intent on stealing the three points, and after David Luiz and Moses had narrowly missed out on connecting with two Mata corners in quick succession, Cole forced a smart save from Hart with a stinging strike from the edge of the penalty area.
Mancini then made a second attacking switch, replacing Aguero, who'd had a fairly quiet afternoon by his own standards, with Mario Balotelli.
City almost stole it at the death when Nastasic rose to meet a Silva corner, but Cech was equal to it, and when Balotelli was booked in the closing stages for simulation, it seemed a fitting end to a game which had promised so much, but ultimately delivered little.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Cech (c); Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, David Luiz, Cole; Mikel (Romeu 79), Ramires; Mata, Oscar, Hazard (Moses 70); Torres.
Unused substitutes: Turnbull, Ferreira, Cahill, Bertrand, Marin.
Manchester City (4-4-2): Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Nastasic, Kolarov; Silva, Y Toure, Barry, Milner; Aguero (Balotelli 85),
Dzeko (Tevez 68).
Unused substitutes: Pantilimon, Maicon, K Toure, Garcia, Nasri.
Booked Zabaleta 64, Kolarov 76, Balotelli 90+2
Referee: Christopher Foy