This was several years ago now, but there was a time in the mid to late '00s* when it seemed like Chelsea were always playing Liverpool. Every couple weeks, Gerrard & Co would show their faces and it would be annoying. Later, most memorably when Carlo Ancelotti was in charge, it would be Manchester United who'd always turn up, usually at the worst possible times. Nowadays, it's Manchester City whom we get to face at a rather alarming rate, a rate that's almost as fast as Jesús Navas or as big as Yaya Toure.
* I prefer 'aughts' just as they did during the first decade of the 1900s
Now I don't know what the actual frequency of encounters actually was - and if they were significantly more common than most other teams we got to face on a regular basis - but I suspect the reason they stick so vividly in memory is because Chelsea struggled and struggled often in many of these matches. Liverpool and their ghost goal, United and their constant exploitation of our right backs, City and their sheer power and domination - these were not our most glorious moments, that's for sure.
Last season, Chelsea faced Manchester City no less than six times. This fixture opened our season (2-3 loss in the Community Shield) and ended it as well (a pair of post-season friendly defeats, 3-4 and 3-5, in the USA). Of the six matches, Chelsea managed five losses and one incredibly dour, frustrating, eyeball-scratching (for more than just reasons of on-pitch product) 0-0 draw. Basically, Manchester City owned us.
So, the big question then is, can Mourinho change that? The confidence is there. The tactical know-how, attacking prowess, and defensive solidity are (in varying degrees) there. The midfield isn't there, but that's just how we roll lately, so we're just going to have to deal with it.
Can we do it? Yes, we can. Will we do it? Wellllllll...
Date/Time: Sunday, October 27, 2013, 16:00 GMT; 12pm EDT; 9:30pm IST
Venue/Location: Stamford Bridge, SW6
Forecast: Mostly sunny with an early shower; should be dry at game time with rain coming late, possibly
On TV: Sky Sports 1 (UK); NBCSN (USA); ESPN HD, Star Cricket (India); elsewhere
Chelsea squad news: Ashley Cole has been deemed fully fit, which means that Marco van Ginkel is the only player unavailable for selection (despite that ominous icepack on Schürrle's ankle on Tuesday). Meanwhile, both Torres & Eto'o seem to have found their goalscoring boots, while the defense have been pitching clean sheets with increasing regularity. Lampard & Ramires have formed a winning, if not entirely convincing partnership in the middle, while up front Eden Hazard and Oscar have been lighting it up. When the passing is accurate and the tempo is appropriate, Chelsea look very good.
Manchester City squad news: Vincent Kompany is a huge loss in the heart of the visitors' defense - three goals conceded to Villa and Bayern each notwithstanding - especially given Javi Garcia's less than convincing show midweek. Then again, when your defense is screened by Yaya Touré, less-than-convincing can be more than enough. When the big man is in the mood, he's unstoppable. And speaking of in-form, Sergio Aguero has seven goals in his last five, six in seven league appearances this season, and nine in ten matches overall. With Álvaro Negredo and Edin Dzeko chipping in a few as well, it's no wonder that City are the highest scoring team in the Premier League.
View from the enemy: Bitter and Blue
Previously: In addition to our struggles versus the Blues of another color last season, Chelsea have only won two of the last ten competitive meetings between the two sides - one of which needed a Gael Clichy red card (that's the one where Balotelli scored inside of two minutes) and the other of which netted a goal of the season for Ramires.
Interestingly, as Rick Glanvill points out in his preview, the timing of this match echoes Mourinho's first season, when Chelsea, two points off of Arsenal's pace in second place after eight matches, traveled to the Eastlands to suffer José's first defeat as Chelsea manager thanks to a penalty kick by none other than Nicolas Anelka (he can score them, it seems in retrospect). Despite that loss, Chelsea of course recovered to win the title, which would be the only consolation I could take from a similar defeat this Sunday.