Date:Saturday September 25 2010
Saturday, 25th September
The first game of what is a crucial week for Roberto Mancini's side is upon us. Chelsea travel to Eastlands with a 100% record in the league this season whilst City are aiming to repeat last season's heroics by producing the goods. This should be a cracker
'I'm disappointed because we need all the players who are injured; it's an important moment for us. But what can you do? I had to make changes in midweek also because we didn't have the players.
"I do not know what I am going to do just yet. I will speak with Joleon and Jerome, but if they are not available I am not sure. Maybe Boyata, but I am not sure. I am disappointed we have all these injuries at the moment. I only have 11 players who are 100% fit.
'Chelsea are the best team at the moment. They look as if they will win the Premier League easily, a strong team who have played together for years and who have a fantastic manager.
'They have scored a lot of goals, but even when you score so many goals, the day always comes when you don't score. So I hope it's tomorrow! Why not? We know it will be a difficult game for us, but it is for them as well.
'Chelsea is the top squad, but I don't think our players are worse than theirs. Our team is a strong team. We have only one problem - the injuries. But the players on the pitch tomorrow will be strong, of that I am confident.'
'It's funny; I think a lot of players have a team that they like to play against, who things turn out well against sometimes. I've played against Chelsea many times, managed to convert a few goals and played well.
"For some reason they suit me and they're a lucky side for me, or they certainly have been in the past. What's important now is that we remain calm and focused in the lead-up to the game. We have to turn a good performance into three points.
'Being made captain has brought me a lot more responsibility on and off the field. It's important for me to be working hard and help the rest of the lads keep working hard, and I want to try to help grow this team from a very good one into something even bigger. I'm working hard, but I have to say that I love the responsibility."
"When you play against someone like Chelsea it`s a different game to other matches. We are at home and will have our supporters behind us, which is an advantage. I think it will be a good game, as both teams have great players. Last season we had two great matches and, hopefully, we can beat them again.
"We have a great chance to go up the table and if we want to stay in the race we need to win these games. We have a number of players out with injury, but I can adapt to different positions.
"I have to be ready, when the manager decides to play me."
"Manchester City is a strong team, players with a lot of skills, but it is a game, and we have to do the same, do our best and show our football for 90 minutes. Every game is a test, [this] is an important test, it is also a test for Man City tomorrow. It is a match against one of the most important teams in the Premier League.
'They have a possibility [to win the Premier League]. They didn't start so well this season but they have a possibility, the time to come back in the first place of the table. Unbeaten I think is not realistic, because there are a lot of strong teams here, there are a lot of games and it is very difficult to remain unbeaten for one year. It is not our aim.
"Carlos Tevez is the most dangerous player of Manchester City, he has quality. He has power and very good mentality. I appreciate his kind of play and we have to pay attention."
Roberto Mancini is in more than a spot bother. Injured players are coming through faster than a late night curry. Mancini claims to have 'only have 11 players who are 100% fit.' Claims have been made this week about Mancini`s diabolical training techniques contributing to the mass number of sidelined players at this early stage of the season. Here`s the full list: Aleksandar Kolarov, Jerome Boateng, Joleon Lescott, Micah Richards, Wayne Bridge, Micahel Johnson, Shaun Wright Phillips and Mario Balotelli. That`s nine senior players out injured!
Mancini`s biggest call is who to play at left back, or right back to that matter. Kolo Toure and Vincent Kompany will start in central defence whilst Pablo Zabaleta will play either full back position. Most likely is that Dedryck Boyata will start at right back with Zab at left back but if Mancini doesn`t trust the young Belgian against Florent Malouda then I expect Gareth Barry to deployed as an emergency left back. With all that in mind, here is what I expect the side to be:
Possible City Team:
38) Boyata - 28) K Toure - 4) Kompany - 5) Zabaleta
11) A. Johnson - 42) Y Toure - 34) de Jong - 18) Barry - 7) Milner
32) Tevez (c)
Yaya has made an indifferent start to life in the fast lane. At times he`s looked slow, off the pace and slightly clueless, but then again his passing accuracy has been sublime, he made 'that` run against Sunderland (the less said about the applied finish the better) and he popped up with a goal last week at the DW Stadium. There have been glimpses of the player we know he is and hopefully he`ll start to bed in now. However, he faces arguably the best box to box midfielder in the world on Saturday - Michael Essien. The Ghanian is a beast; he is the complete player and he`s started this campaign like a house on fire. If our midfield three can stem the threat of Essien in particular, then our chances of coming away from the game with all three points will be much rosier.
There is no team news for you Chelsea fans out there. Carlo Ancelotti, brimming with confidence has already named his starting team for the clash:
Chelsea Starting Team:
Ivanovic - Alex - Terry - Cole
Essien - Mikel - Ramires
Anelka - Drogba - Malouda
What a transformation Malouda has undergone. Not so long ago Chelsea die-hards were offering to personally drive him to his next club, songs were even made to criticise Malouda`s ability as a player. Anyway, he`s in sensational form - bagging six goals in six games which a strike-rate that the likes of Rooney and Torres can only dream about at this moment. Due to Chelsea`s loose formation, the Frenchman has a licence to roam; cutting in field at every opportunity whilst still making late dashes into the box. Yes, Chelsea haven`t played anyone with a decent defence as yet but he proved his quality last season with consistently brilliant performances. He has to be monitored closely.
City had only won two out of 24 Premier League meetings with Chelsea before beating the Blues home and away last season.
No other team has won more Premier League games at Manchester City than Chelsea (10 wins).
Carlos Tevez has scored 24 goals in his last 28 Premier League outings and five in his last four against Chelsea.
Chelsea have scored 54 goals in their last 13 Premier League games, and have conceded just five.
Didier Drogba has assisted five goals this season, a league high, and scored five.
This is a real tricky one. Chelsea are flying but haven`t been 'tested` thus far. City are stuttering but are always more than useful at home. The midfield battle will be extremely interesting to watch, whichever team manages to emerge victorious in that area of the field will probably edge proceedings. However, I can`t see anything else but an enthralling draw being the outcome: Prediction: City 2 - 2 Chelsea
Thursday, 30th September v Juventus. EUROPA LEAGUE @ 20:05 (H)
Sunday, 3rd October v Newcastle @ 13:30 (H)
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Date:Saturday September 25 2010
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