This is as big as it gets.
When Manchester City host Chelsea, it will be a clash between two of the league's title contenders. The Citizens currently top the table with 53 points, while the Blues are lurking in third place with 50. As if the title race implications weren't enough to get you interested, the star power on display will be impressive.
Still, this match could come down to the venue where it is being played. At home this year, City are perfect, having won all 11 of their matches. Contrast that to Chelsea on the road, where they've taken 18 from a possible 33 points.
City will be favored, but can Chelsea steal a point (or three) at the Etihad? Let's find out.
When: Monday, February 3 at 3 p.m. ET
Monday, February 3 at 8 p.m. GMT
Where: Etihad Stadium, Manchester, England
Odds: Manchester City (49.4 percent), Chelsea (27.7 percent) and draw (22.9 percent), according to Bloomberg Sports
After demolishing Tottenham mid-week, 5-1, City have now won 18 of their last 20 matches, an incredible run of form. Not surprisingly, this is a club enjoying their football, as Vincent Kompany said after the Spurs match, via City's website:
It is the best team in the best form. This kind of performance gives you such a lift. It is massive for us.
Especially in the last few months we have been relentless. It is such a great feeling that no matter who you play, where you play you just want to win and it’s not just about winning, you want to make a statement. It is a good time to be part of this club.
A good time, indeed. City have scored an astonishing 68 goals on the season, 11 more than any other team. However, against Chelsea they won't have their most prolific scorer, as Sergio Aguero is set to miss a significant chunk of time to injury. From BBC Sport:
Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero ruled out for a month with a hamstring injury #mcfc— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) January 31, 2014
That's a big blow, no doubt, but City have the luxury of players like Edin Dzeko, Alvaro Negredo and Stevan Jovetic waiting in the wings.
Meanwhile, Chelsea come into this game having been one of the busiest teams in January on the transfer market. The team added Nemanja Matic, Mohamed Salah and Kurt Zouma (who was loaned back to St Etienne), while selling Juan Mata to Manchester United.
This isn't quite a "new-look" Chelsea team, but it is certainly one that has been heavily tweaked.
It's also a Chelsea team that haven't addressed their biggest need—an upgrade at forward. The combination of Fernando Torres, Demba Ba and Samuel Eto'o have combined to score just 11 Premier League goals, not a terrible total but what a team like Chelsea would expect to have from just one forward at this point in the season, not three.
Even for a team like Chelsea that is defensively sound, keeping City from scoring at the Etihad is a huge challenge. City have scored 42 goals at home and given up just eight, so Chelsea will not only need their best defensive performance of the season, but they'll also need a big performance from attackers like Eden Hazard and Oscar.
Chelsea did win the first meeting between these teams, 2-1. But the task will be far more daunting away from Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea are capable of earning a draw at the Etihad. But will they?
Which team wins?
Probably not. City are playing like one of the best teams in Europe in the moment, while the Blues have scored just one goal in their last two games. Even without Aguero, City are getting excellent seasons from Negredo, Yaya Toure, David Silva, Fernandinho and Vincent Kompany, among others.
Chelsea won't make things easy. But the Citizens are too hot to be stopped at the moment.
City wins, 2-1.