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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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.