Good afternoon, everybody, it’s time for The Match Of The Season (part one in a series of twenty or so.) Manchester City versus Chelsea. The champions of two years ago against the champions from last year. Manchester City purred, against West Bromwich Albion on Monday night. Even though the Albion manager Tony Pulis did at least stand up and state publicly that he got his formation wrong for this match – not a level of honesty that we could expect from all Premier League managers, of course) – which means that it is, perhaps, difficult to say how comfortable this win was might have been down to Albion’s lackadaisicality, it was still a performance of such confidence and control that the players, officials and supporters of the other clubs with title aspirations might have felt a cold chill come over them.
Let’s not get too bogged down in the Mourinho-manufactured controversy that has hung over Stamford Bridge over the course of the last week. Hippocratic oath, schmipocrattic oath, and all that. And besides, even with Dr Nick Riviera sitting alongside Mourinho on the bench this afternoon, let’s not forget that Chelsea have been sluggish in pre-season and were little better than mediocre last Saturday against Swansea City. Having said that, though, no-one has ever got wealthy themselves as a result of betting against a temporarily set-back uber-club bouncing back, so let’s not rule out the possibility of an away win this afternoon. But first. the teams:
Manchester City: Hart; Sagna, Kompany (C), Mangala, Kolarov; Yaya Toure, Fernandinho; Navas, Silva, Sterling; Aguero. Substitutes: Caballero, Zabaleta, Clichy, Nasri, Demichelis, Bony, Iheanacho.
Chelsea: Begovic; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry (c), Azpilicueta; Ramires, Matic; Willian, Fabregas, Hazard; Diego Costa. Substitutes: Blackman, Zouma, Mikel, Loftus-Cheek, Cuadrado, Falcao, Remy.
They’re about to open the new stand at The Etihad Stadium, which brings the capacity up to 55,000. If it’s full today, it’ll be the biggest crowd here since 1973, face fans. Meanwhile, we’ll be back with all the latest updates – including what happened when I went to an all-day birthing class with my wife this morning, if I run out of other things to talk about – at kick-off time.
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