Manchester City vs. Chelsea: Five Game-Defining Battles
As Chelsea visit Eastlands on Saturday, the environment will be heated up as things had got ugly last season when the two teams met.
When Chelsea last faced City in Stamford Bridge earlier this year, the Terry scandal was at its peak and to add further insult the Blues' were defeated 4-2 by Mancini's men. Chelsea however, went on to win the Premier League while the high spending Manchester City missed the Champions League bus and had to be content with an Europa League spot.
Hence, on Saturday when Chelsea faces Mancini's team of multi-million dollar players it will be a battle of vengeance and supremacy. While City has spent millions this summer to sign top quality players, the team is yet to gel and though the players may be brilliant individually, they are not that good together as has been proved in their latest defeats.
On the other hand, Chelsea have a team that seems to be in their peak from and the understanding among the players cannot be better than this. They are presently the most-feared team in the Premier League given their clean record as well as goal-scoring prowess.
Hence, the City of Manchester stadium will face a heated duel among to rich clubs of the Premier League and while City will be looking to register their earlier feats, Chelsea will be on the look-out for revenge and maintaining their so-far clean record intact.
In the following slides, we will take a look into the five key duels that will define the this weekend's most-awaited match as Carlo Ancelotti's ageing boys take on his fellow-countryman's star-studded team.
Goalkeeping Battle : Stable Cech vs In-Form Hart
Hart and Cech
Last time when Chelsea faced Manchester City, neither Petr Cech nor Joe Hart were present.
While the Czech shot-stopper was sidelined injured, Hart was doing his duties for the Birmingham City. This time around Hart is the most-promising goalie of the Premier League. He has been superb under the post and one of the prime reasons why City are still at the top half of the league table. His brilliant performances against Tottenham, Liverpool, and Wigan contributed a big portion in City's success against them.
Petr Cech on the other hand has been in good nick too. Though he is yet to be tested seriously against tougher opponents he seems to be in good touch.
The goalies will play a very decisive role in Saturday's match. Last time around Chelsea second-choice goalie Hilario's mistakes cost Chelsea the match against City and this time Cech would not like something similar to happen when the West Londoners faces the Eastlands outfit.
Joe Hart will have to work hard to keep the likes of Didier Drogba, Nicolas Anelka, and Malouda at bay.
So whoever wins the battle of the goalies might see their club emerge triumphant.
Defensive Battle : Can Ivanovic Stop Milner
Perhap's one of Manchester City's most precious signing was Englishman James Milner, who arrived from Aston Villa this summer. The English midfielder can perform both defensive as well as attacking responsibilities though he would look to be more adventurous when Chelsea visit them on Saturday.
He has been a consistent performer for the high-spending but low achieving City in the new season and will be one of the threats that Chelsea must be very careful about. His eye for goal and superb goal-creating abilities makes him a nightmare for any defense. If he gets enough space to flex his footballing skills the English midfielder can run havoc in opposition defenses.
With Terry looking to make the starting lineup Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti might hand over the right back position to Branislav Ivanovic, who seems to be in good touch after an impressive 2009-10 season. The 26-year-old Serb might be assigned the task of marking Milner and he has to be very focused on his job. His tough tackles and good defensive reflexes makes him an ideal candidate to mark City's versatile midfielder.
The onus will be on Ivanovic to guard his man well as any lapse on his part will give City the advantage and might even cost his team their now clean slate. So it will be a vital duel as its outcome will go a long way in deciding the result of Chelsea's "first real test."
Tough Tackling Dutch vs High-Flying Frenchman : De Jong Takes On Malouda
Florent Malouda, man of the moment for Chelsea.
The left-footed French winger has been on fire for his club since last season and it seems he has only got better with age. He is Chelsea's highest goal-scorer so-far with six goals from the five matches(should be four as he played only seven minutes against West Ham). The Frenchman seems to be on top form after two quite seasons since his arrival. His superb pace, ability to be in the right place at the right time and his goal-creating abilities has made him one of the top midfielders in the world. He has the ability to tear down opposition defenses and make merry on his day and he will be looking to maintain that form when Chelsea face Manchester City early Saturday.
City boss Roberto Mancini is facing a defensive crisis ahead of his club's much-awaited duel with Chelsea. With most of his regular defenders sidelined due to injury Mancini might give his Dutch defensive midfielder some defensive responsibilities and the arduous task of marking Chelsea's high-flying winger. Nicknamed the Lawnmower for his combative and feisty style, the product of Ajax's youth system Nigel De Jong has been a consistent performer for the Eastland's outfit. His athleticism and ball-recovery abilities makes him defensive shield for City.
Much responsibility will be on the 25-year-old Dutch player as he will be looking to keep Malouda in chains. He has a tough job at hand as a single mistake on his part can cost his team the match. So it will be interesting to watch if the hard tackling City defender can control the in-form Chelsea winger.
Battle Of the Nation : Kolo Toure vs Didier Drogba
Drogba and Kolo Toure
Chelsea's talismanic Ivorian hitman Didier Drogba has been on fire this season. Be it in scoring goals or in creating them the Chelsea striker has been going great guns all through.
He seems to be in even better form than last year and is presently one of the most feared forwards in football. His gritty determination, power and skills make him a threat for any defense. In Chelsea's first five fixtures he has scored five goals and made five assists and the numbers speak as to how deadly he can be on any given day. The 32-year-old Ivorian is the biggest danger for City and they will be hoping Drogba does not has a good outing on Saturday.
Mancini might give the responsibility to keep Drogba at bay to the Ivorian's fellow national Kolo Toure, the brother of City's star-midfielder Yaya Toure. Kolo Toure has been a regular in the Eastlander's defense and he has done well enough. He has been neat in tackles and has shown quality defensive reflexes. The 29-year-old former Arsenal star needs to be at his best to stop the dangerous Drogba.
If Kolo succeeds in stopping Drogba, that would give City the chance to take a point from this game or even win the match. But in case Kolo fails to guard the Blues' hitman then Mancini's highly-paid boys are in for neck-deep trouble. Hence, this battle will be a decisive one for this match.
Chelsea Captain vs City Talisman: Terry vs Tevez
Tevez and Terry at Loggerheads
Terry had a good performance against Newcastle in their mid-week clash in the Carling Cup. Though it is unsure if Ancelotti will play his captain against City, if Terry takes the field he will surely be assigned the duty to guard Chelsea's nemesis from last year Carlos Tevez.
When the last time these two teams met the timid Argentine made a meal out of the Chelsea defense. The Chelsea captain had a horrifying time tackling the pacy and skilled Argentine forward.
This time Carlos Tevez has been in good form and he will be looking forward to repeat his earlier feat. But he can expect his dreams to be broken as Chelsea have a good and compact defense. Though Terry seems vulnerable at times he is still one of the best defenders in the world.
Tevez might be able to outpace the ageing Terry who is getting a bit slow. But Terry's superb positional sense, sheer determination and stamina will help him to keep the fiery Argentine quiet during the whole match.
These face-off will be very important because if Terry is successful in keeping Tevez at bay it might win the match for Chelsea without any troubles. Terry will be looking to avenge the defeat and keep the City forward quiet.