A week ago, right about when Thibaut Courtois was shown his red card, this fixture loomed ominous and terrifying, the darkest timeline of starting the season with back-to-back losses suddenly materializing on the horizon. Swansea were already in the ascendancy and the equalizing goal prompted the very real possibility of Jose Mourinho losing a Premier League match at Stamford Bridge for just the second time ever. Fortunately, Chelsea rallied with 10-men to see out the draw and drop just the two points. Hardly ideal, that goes without saying, but still better than no points. While no title has ever been won or lost on the back of two matches, zero points from six games to begin a season — something we haven't done since 1998 — would surely ratchet up the pressure and all that lovely media sideshow and fan anxiety.
"The season is very long. Thirty-eight matches is an eternity, a marathon which started last week and ends in around 10 months."
"I cannot say it's crucial, it's decisive, or it's very, very important, but it is two title contenders, and three points. If you can get three and your opponent zero it is important but for sure I am not going to say the game decides anything for the winner or anything for the loser."
-Jose Mourinho; source: Chelsea FC
We could still very easily face the prospect of having just one point after two matches to star the season of course, but we don't exactly have to worry about that alone ratcheting up the pressure and the media sideshow and the anxiety. Mourinho already took care of all that with his ill-advised public comments about our medical staff. Oh well. It would hardly be Chelsea to make any of this easy, right?
This showdown of the two best teams from last season still looms ominous and terrifying. But what's the worst that could happen? Three dropped points? Pah.
Date / Time: Sunday, August 16, 2015, 16:00 BST; 11am EDT; 8:30pm IST
Venue: Etihad Stadium, Manchester, England
Referee: Martin Atkinson — while we have not registered a win in the last three matches refereed by Atkinson, the veteran referee remains a generally excellent omen. In his 33 matches, Chelsea have only lost 3 times.
Forecast: Pleasant sunshine, maybe
On TV: Sky Sports 1 (UK); NBCSN, Telemundo (USA); Star Sports 1 / HD 1 (India); elsewhere
Online: Sky Go (UK); NBC Sports Live Extra, NBC Deportes En Vivo Extra (USA)
Manchester City team news: City are short two midfielders, Fabian Delph and Fernando, while a third, Yaya Touré, may be carrying a small groin tweak. He's expected to start anyway, unlike fellow ultra-key player Sergio Aguero, who still hasn't regained proper match fitness following his exertions at this summer's Copa America. Gael Clichy is a doubt as well.
Pellegrini's men are coming off a rather convincing 3-0 win last weekend, albeit against a horrendously disorganized and almost disinterested West Brom side. Goals from Silva, Yaya, and Vincent Kompany powered the warning shot fired in the general direction of every other title rival.
Following their spectacular January collapse that handed Chelsea (back) all the initiative we'd ever need to win the league, City are currently on a seven-match Premier League winning streak.
View from the enemy: Bitter and Blue
Chelsea team news: We're down possibly one midfielder as well, Oscar who has some sort of a knock, though are also still working with a short-handed squad, especially in defense. Thibaut Courtois will be serving his one-match suspension for the red card he received for taking out Swansea's Bafetimbi Gomis. New boy Asmir Begović will get his first start, while long-time third wheel Jamal Blackman (still just 21) will serve as backup. U21 starter Mitchell Beeney has been called up to be third goalkeeper.
Not counting the three games after we had wrapped up last year's title, Chelsea have not lost in the Premier League since the New Year's Day debacle at Spurs. We also have not lost any August games since 2006.
Previously: Our last two league visits to the Etihad have gained us four points. Let's make that at least five in three visits.