Manchester City vs. Chelsea: 4 Players to Watch in Sunday's EPL Match

Stefan GouyetAnalyst IFebruary 23, 2013

Manchester City vs. Chelsea: 4 Players to Watch in Sunday's EPL Match

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    On Sunday, Chelsea take on Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium. The two teams sit just four points about in the Barclays Premier League, with the Citizens in second place and the Londoners in third.

    With Manchester United 12 points clear at the top, it looks like Chelsea and Manchester City will be battling for second this season. 

    Roberto Mancini's side will still have their sights on winning the league and will need to win every single game left if they are going to reclaim the title. For Chelsea, staying in the top four is the goal, and they will need a win on Sunday in order to stay ahead of Tottenham.

    Here are four players to watch in the Chelsea-Manchester City game.

Juan Mata

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    Juan Mata has been Chelsea's most valuable player this season. The Spaniard has been the team's biggest attacking threat and has 17 goals and 19 assists from midfield (all competitions).

    While Chelsea had to pay around €30 million for the former Valencia man, that price tag now looks like a bargain. The 24-year-old has been superb for Chelsea in the past two seasons and has many years left in him.

    Mata will certainly start on Sunday, despite featuring in the whole game against Sparta Prague on Thursday. The Spanish international will likely play as a center attacking midfielder and will cause huge problems for Manchester City's defense.

Yaya Toure

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    Yaya Toure returned from the Africa Cup of Nations in Manchester City's poor loss to Southampton. The Ivorian didn't have a great game but made up for it with a great performance and a goal against Leeds the following week.

    Toure has been strong in defensive midfield this season, and his physical presence will be extremely important for City on Sunday. In addition, the 29-year-old is a very good dribbler and his runs up the field will cause problems for the Chelsea defense. 

Branislav Ivanovic

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    First of all, it will be interesting to see where Branislav Ivanovic starts for Chelsea. The Serbian international has played at right-back and at centre-back in recent games, and his position in Sunday's game will depend on whether John Terry starts.

    If Ivanovic is deployed on the right of Chelsea's defense, he won't be able to offer too much attacking support, as he will need to keep a close eye on City's left-winger, (most likely David Silva or Samir Nasri). 

    I feel it would be smarter for Ivanovic to start at centre-back, as he wouldn't have to help out the attack and he would have the task of dealing with Sergio Aguero in the center. 

    Wherever Ivanovic plays, his physical presence and tackling ability will be important for Chelsea's defense. 

Vincent Kompany

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    Vincent Kompany has been out of action since January 26th but is set to come back against Chelsea. The Citizens have certainly missed the Belgian defender, as they have dropped seven points in their last three league matches.

    Against Southampton, Manchester City had huge defensive problems as they lost the match, 3-1. The centre-back partnership of Javi Garcia and Joleon Lescott didn't work as Roberto Macini had planned and the team's back-four looked very unstable throughout the game. 

    Kompany's return will be extremely important for City as they will have to deal with the likes of Juan Mata, Demba Ba (uncertain if he will start) and Eden Hazard.