As a player, you have respect for Barcelona but you never have fear. You have to plan for a good game against them and to try to cause them problems. So no, we do not have any fear of Manchester City, especially because we're playing at home in this match but we do have the ultimate respect for them because they're the league leaders. Fear, though? Not at all.
Fear does not exist in this dojo. So sayeth Juan Mata.
Edin Dzeko, flying high
A win isn't going to clinch us any silverware. A defeat, however, probably eliminates us, barring some absurd happenstance, from competing for a domestic league championship. Not only that but a loss, in the wake of Andre Villas-Boas' mega anti-media rant, would ramp up the outside pressure on the manager way beyond 11.
I don't think the man wants egg on his face, do you?
Who: Manchester City (est. 1880)
What: Barclays Premier League, Round 15
When: 12 December, 8pm local time (3pm EDT)
Where: Stamford Bridge (42,449)
How: ESPN2 (DirecTV 209, Dish Network 144)
Why: Much of the why is stated above. What else? Well, there's keeping this momentum we have managed to build - in the face of some serious turmoil - over the last few weeks going. Handing City their first loss of the domestic campaign would be pretty heady, too. And there's also the small matter of stamping our title intentions right on the forehead of Joleon Lescott. Yeah, a positive result at home against the runaway league leaders would be huge for Chelsea.
As tactics have already been discussed to a degree, let's touch on a few quick keys to our success against City from my perspective.
• Everyone knows that City have been scoring in bunches this season. Kun Aguero and company have netted three or more goals in 13 of their 23 matches in all competitions. What you may not know is that City have scored 35 of that 48 during the second half of games. That's roughly 73 percent of their total coming after the interval. So, they may be explosive but they also are patient. We'll need to remain steadfast in our approach, proceed with discipline and concentrate throughout - something with which we have had issues, at least individually, so far under AVB.
• We must use our pace down the channels. City fullbacks are prone to drifting forward with regularity, which means the duo of Daniel Sturridge and Juan Mata should have space in which to probe. Seeing as we've become more of a counter-attacking side in recent matches, it would appear we are well-suited to dealing with what City will attempt to do. Sturridge, in particular, will have the running of either Gael Clichy or Aleksandar Kolarov. I'll take the former Citizen over those two at the moment. What Sturridge will have to do better, meanwhile, is finish off his moves - either for himself or teammates. If Michael Richards, the right back, misses out with a calf injury then that's another massive boost for us on the flanks.
• Defend the Bridge. Manchester City may have won three of their past four league meetings with Chelsea, but only one of those has come at Stamford Bridge. In fact, City have only one victory in their last 13 trips to Fulham Road - that woeful 4-2 result in February 2010. Sure, we haven't exactly been great at home this season, but there's no reason that we cannot make the Bridge a fortress once again. What better way to rebuild that once-unmistakable aura than by sweeping aside the current league leaders in front of the home support?
That's all I got for now, my friends. We'll be back with the Rant Box tomorrow. Until then, drop us a line or two on what you think may decide this pivotal fixture. Carefree, bitches.