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PL Preview: Manchester City v. Chelsea

The what: Premier League, Round 6 – Manchester City v. Chelsea
The where: City of Manchester Stadium (47,726)
The when: September 25, 12:45pm local time (7:45am EST)
The how: ESPN2 (DirecTV 209, Dish Network 144)
The why: Because, well, our season is just starting you see. Or that's what most would have you believe. Either way, this is a massive fixture, with massive names - and massive egos. A statement of intent is imperative. So, too, is revenge; remember last season?
The referee: Andre Marriner

These jerseys have since been burned, and will never be worn, or seen, again.


The stat: City had only won two out of 24 league meetings with Chelsea before winning home and away last season. Anomaly.
The punt: Chelsea have won at Eastlands more than any other team in the Premier League era (10). Take the famous CFC.
The liveblog:

City —
4 (8 points)
League Form: DWLDW
Team: Hart, Given, Zabaleta, Kompany, K. Toure, Boyata, Cunningham, Lescott, Boateng, Silva, De Jong, Y. Toure, Barry, Vieira, Milner, Johnson, Tevez, Adebayor, Jo, Santa Cruz.
Doubtful: Richards (hamstring), Wright-Phillips (knee)
Injured: Balotelli (knee), Boateng (knee), Bridge (thigh), Kolarov (ankle), Nimely (ankle), Lescott (groin)
Suspended: None
Leading scorer: Tevez 3
Quote: "We were delighted to beat them twice last season and we hope to do it again. It's going to be a really exciting game. We need to make sure we take something from it. If we can get one point that would be great, but if we can get all three like we did twice last season, that would be fantastic." -Kolo Toure

It's not looking good for City manager Roberto Mancini. His boys have won only three of their last 10 league matches; they have also managed to score just five goals in those 10.

More distressing? Injuries. The Italian fashionista has only three fully fit defenders to choose from for the visit of Chelsea - Pablo Zabaleta, Vincent Kompany, Kolo Toure.  Wayne Bridge and Aleksandar Kolarov are out, while Micah Richards is almost certain a no-go; Jerome Boateng and Joleon Lescott face late fitness tests. If neither can go, whose to line up at left fullback? James Milner, Gareth Barry? Either way, that's not exactly how one would like to line up against the reigning champions of England.

"We have big problems,'' Mancini said. "I hope that Micah Richards can recover. If not I don't know who can play left-back.''

How long until this man is roaming around Italy searching for employment?

Nevertheless, his forward options are excellent - despite injuries lying there as well. Carlo Tevez has netted five times in his past four appearances against Chelsea. Adam Johnson is a gem - one that could have been wearing Chelsea blue (I'm still bitter). Milner, in midfield, is a workhorse. That is if Mancini decides not to go with six or seven holding mids.


: 1 (15 points)
League Form: WWWWW
Team: Cech, Tunbull, Ferreira, Ivanovic, Terry, Alex, Bruma, Cole, Van Aanholt, Zhirkov, Essien, Ramires, Mikel, McEachran, Malouda, Drogba, Anelka, Sturridge, Borini.
Doubtful: Kakuta (back)
Injured: Bosingwa (fitness), Lampard (groin), Kalou (thigh), Benayoun (calf)
Suspended: None
Leading scorer: Malouda 6
Quote: "I don't think we have had an easy start. People say that because we won all our games, but those games were not easy. At Wigan we struggled in the first half but managed to turn it around. City will be a good test to see if we can deal with better opposition. After that it is Arsenal - another big one - so it's a crucial period. ... It's true City were a problem for us last year - they beat us twice. They might be another problem for us this time, but if we win the league at the end, I don't mind." -Carlo Ancelotti

Quite the season opener, you think?

Apparently 21 goals, one conceded, hasn't quite done it for most of you. Perhaps a decisive performance at Eastlands will get you in the mood. No question last season's result (2-1, missed Frank Lampard penalty) will be fresh amongst our boys.

Like City, we haven't necessarily been immune to injuries. Yossi Benayoun and Salomon Kalou were the latest, collecting significant knocks in the defeat to Newcastle midweek. It appears three weeks apiece for the pair, both key reserves. This to go with news that Frank Lampard will not return for this contest. In fact, his recovery from hernia surgery may well keep him out for the next three fixtures - at least. Damn.

Regardless, we have a first team unrivaled in this league. A front three of Nico, Flo and The Mighty One is, well, supreme. I mean, Flo is joint top scorer in the league with six goals. City, meanwhile, has scored just eight - as a team.

May I add that I love when King Carlo drops the 11 prior to the match. It's almost like a challenge to the opposition. Layeth down the challenge: This is who were are. Match us, or get the hell out of the way.

Starting XI (official)


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