PRE-MATCH BRIEFING: CHELSEA V MANCHESTER CITY - PART ONE
Stamford Bridge hosts the weekend's biggest fixture with both sides back from away games in Europe. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton set the scene for Sunday's game…
The first and second favourites to lift the Barclays Premier League trophy next May meet this weekend in what could be the most important match of the season so far. Both teams have had their difficulties but are improving rapidly on the back of better results.
Stamford Bridge is a fortress again. Chelsea have won 11 and drawn two of our 13 most recent home Premier League games since QPR left Fulham Road with three points on 2 January. We have also scored 14 goals in four games and a minimum of two in nine successive top-flight games at the Bridge.
Manchester City would be 14th rather than fourth if only away games were taken into account but did taste success across town at West Ham last weekend. They have the Premier League's worst record this season for squandering points from a winning position - eight lost in total. Chelsea have won every league game in which we have led and gained four points from losing positions.
City's arrival around this time of year is an echo of the opening to Jose Mourinho's first season in charge, 2004/05. As in the last few months, the Blues began the campaign without extravagance, the most emphatic victory being a 2-0 at Selhurst Park.
After eight games Mourinho's unbeaten side travelled to Manchester in October 2004 in second place, two points behind Arsenal - just as things stand in 2013.
Then comes the part we definitely hope to avoid: in torrential rain on a slick Eastlands pitch Paulo Ferreira tangled with Nicolas Anelka just outside the box and a penalty was awarded. The referee then was same as this Sunday: Howard Webb. Anelka scored from the spot and it was the only goal of the game.
Thus jolted, but with Arjen Robben finally ready to make his debut, Chelsea responded with a formidable run up to Christmas including six four-goal hauls that set the pace for the remainder of the season. A game of this stature is never quite as important as the aftermath and response.
Back in 2004 City were steered by that quintessential British football man Kevin Keegan. The Chilean coach Manuel Pellegrini is in his debut season. He is new to English football culture and conditions - the physical demands on players, lack of a winter break, spirit of smaller clubs.
So far he has managed some excellent results - notably the 3-1 win at Upton Park last weekend - and some surprisingly poor ones. His stellar side have yet fully to shake off the impression that they raise their game only when they fancy it. One thing is certain: any game against the Blues falls into that category.
Mourinho's managerial statistics since the start of the season are now 64 per cent wins, 22 per cent draws and 14 per cent losses, closing in on the 67 per cent, 22 per cent and 11 per cent he managed here between 2004 and 2007. Pellegrini's record at City is 49 per cent wins, 25 per cent draws, 26 per cent losses.
This will be the new City manager's sixth league joust across the technical area with the Portuguese. When they met in the Primera between 2011 and 2013 Real trumped Malaga in three of the five games, with one drawn.
Most notable among those results were emphatic 7-0, 4-0 and 6-2 beatings. The latter, as recent as May 2013, included a penalty fluffed by Ronaldo and two red cards for Malaga. If Pellegrini needs to check the details he might confer with his central defender Martín Demichelis, who was on the receiving end in all three matches.
The encouraging 3-0 victory over Schalke on Tuesday put the Blues top of Group E and with a big advantage in the head-to-head results that come into play in the event of a points tie.
Chelsea's clean sheet was the first by Champions League visitors to Gelsenkirchen for 11 matches. At the other end, Fernando Torres has now scored a hugely impressive nine goals in his last nine UEFA matches. Surprisingly, Eden Hazard's was his first in Europe's elite competition.
For those wondering why Chelsea wore royal blue in Germany, the answer is that the hosts' third choice green strip is also their official one for the Champions League this season. When we last played there in 2007 their European kit was black and light blue, so Avram Grant's men wore yellow and black.
|Barclays Premier League top six|
|Big six mini league|
Crisis club Crystal Palace have held Arsenal in their last two home league meetings. Two former Chelsea coaches, Brendan Rodgers and Steve Clarke, meet at Anfield. Stoke manager Mark Hughes has not steered a side to victory at Old Trafford since September 2005. Hull are unbeaten in two Premier League trips to White Hart Lane.
Barclays Premier League fixtures
Crystal Palace v Arsenal 12.45pm - BT Sport
Aston Villa v Everton 3pm
Liverpool v West Brom 3pm
Manchester United v Stoke 3pm
Norwich v Cardiff 3pm
Southampton v Fulham 5.30pm - Sky Sports
Sunderland v Newcastle 1.30pm - Sky Sports
Chelsea v Manchester City 4pm - Sky Sports
Swansea v West Ham 4pm
Tottenham v Hull 4pm
Only Southampton (three) have conceded fewer than Chelsea's five in eight league outings.
In the Barclays Premier League, we have won 34 points of the last 36 at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea have lost one of our last 16 Premier League matches.
We have won all four league games when we have scored the opening goal.
|Last six results|
|Sep 24||Swindon (Capital One Cup a)||W 2-0|
|Sat 28||Tottenham (a)||D 1-1|
|Oct 1||Steaua Bucharest (Champions League a)||W 4-0|
|Oct 6||Norwich (a)||W 3-1|
|Oct 19||Cardiff (h)||W 4-1|
|Oct 22||Schalke (Champions League a)||W 3-0|
League games since
A home win: 0
A home draw: 5
A home defeat: 13
|Chelsea's next three games|
|Tue 29 Oct||Arsenal (Capital One Cup) away||7.45pm|
|Sat 2 Nov||Newcastle away||12.45pm|
|Wed 6 Nov||Schalke (Champions League) home||7.45pm|
If selected, Branislav Ivanovic will make his 150th Premier League appearance.
MAN CITY STATS
3 League championships, last in 2012
5 FA Cups, last in 2011
1 European Cup Winners' Cup in 1970
2 League Cups, last in 1976
4 FA Charity/Community Shields, last in 2012
Premier League - Second
Champions League - Group stage
FA Cup - Runners-up
Capital One Cup - Third round
Man City have scored 20 goals this season, more than any other Premier League team.
City have won 29 and drawn two of the 31 Premier League games in which Sergio Aguero has scored.
Five of City's league goals have been scored in the last minute or stoppage time of the first or second half.
Eight of City's nine Premier League goals conceded have been scored in the second half.
Manager Manuel Pellegrini
Days in charge: 135
|City's last 10 year league history|
|Last six results|
|Sep 24||Wigan (League Cup h)||W 5-0|
|Sep 28||Aston Villa (a)||L 2-3|
|Oct 2||Bayern Munich (Champions League h)||L 1-3|
|Oct 5||Everton (h)||W 3-1|
|Oct 19||West Ham (a)||W 3-1|
|Oct 23||CSKA Moscow (Champions League a)||W 2-1|
Premier League scorers(20)
Aguero 6, Toure 4, Negredo 3, Dzeko 2, Nasri 2, Silva 2, own goals 1
League games since
An away win: 0
An away draw: 2
An away defeat: 1
CITY'S MAJOR SUMMER MOVES AND AUTUMN LOANS
Ins Fernandinho (Shakhtar Donetsk, £30m), Stevan Jovetic (Fiorentina, £22m), Alvaro Negredo (Sevilla, £20m), Jesus Navas (Sevilla, £14.9m), Martin Demichelis (Atletico Madrid, £4.2m)
Outs Carlos Tevez (Juventus, £12m), Kolo Toure (Liverpool, free), Wayne Bridge (Reading, free), Roque Santa Cruz (Malaga, free), Maicon (Roma, undisclosed), Gareth Barry (Everton, loan), Scott Sinclair (West Brom, loan), Abdul Razak (Anzhi Makhachkala, loan)
THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE
Referee Howard Webb has already been the whistler for both teams this term: our only league defeat at Everton and City's home derby win against Man Utd, both in September.
There are no suspensions. Jose Mourinho was sent to the stands against Cardiff City but was fined rather than banned.
Visit again tomorrow for Part Two of the Briefing.
- Live audio commentary of the game will be available here