Pop quiz! It's been how many years since Chelsea did not lose at the Etihad? Here's a hint: We've had six managers since. So, yeah, a while.
What makes me think we can win this time? Quite frankly, I don't. Manchester City are a bit of a mess at the moment. They've not going to defend their first-ever Premier League crown, they've failed to perform at anything like last year's level, and they've managed to do even worse than we did in Europe, finishing fourth in their Champions League group.
But we're a mess too, and if there's anything I expect from Chelsea these days, it's nothing. We don't do well at the Etihad, we haven't played good football since several ice ages ago, they'll probably get Vincent Kompany back, we drew 0-0 against them in one of the worst games of this season, and I'm grumpy at writing previews so I'm going to be even more bitter and cynical than usual. Oh, and to make matters worse for us Gareth Barry is unlikely to be around to score hilarious own goals.
Happily, we're not going to be missing anyone other than Oriol Romeu, who remains out for the rest of the season thanks to a disappointing lack of divine intervention to fix his knee. Demba Ba's available on account of not being cup tied, and all of Frank Lampard, Branislav Ivanovic, Ashley Cole and David Luiz are all ok for selection after being rested for the midweek game against Sparta Prague*.
*Ok most of the rest of them took a rest against Sparta, but that's not quite the same thing.
It's still Manchester City away though, and getting the three points we need to pull them down into the battle for England's leftover Champions League spots, and the fact that that's really our goal for tomorrow tells you how badly the season's going on the domestic front -- all we're trying to do is to make our host feel the same way we do. Still, according to St. Thomas Aquinus annoying City is one of life's truest goods, so let's do our best and make it work, eh?
Tactics? You want tactics? Go to Lamin with your tactical needs! Piffle!
Date/Time: Sunday, February 24th. 1:30 pm GMT (8:30 am EST; 7:00 pm IST)
Venue: Etihad Stadium, Manchester.
TV information: Sky Sports 1 (UK), Fox Soccer Channel (USA), ESPN (India).
Go ahead and guess lineups and predictions in this thread. If you get them right, you will most certainly earn the respect and admiration of all who look upon your words.