The two richest clubs in the Premier League aren’t where they thought they’d be at the beginning of the season, but Manchester City are still dreaming of catching up with the league leaders, while Chelsea are hoping they can catch up with Manchester City.
At the current situation, with United opening a 15 point lead over City, while Chelsea are only four points behind the (probably) exiting champions, a direct battle for second place seems more likely. A loss for City, and the pressure will be on Roberto Mancini, even more than before; a loss for Chelsea and suddenly the fourth place becomes their new home, with Arsenal threatening from outside the top 4.
It’s been just over two weeks since Chelsea last played a league match, with the Europa League (passing Sparta Prague) and the FA Cup (getting by Brentford) getting in the way. Chelsea were on a four-game winning-less streak, but then came the 4-1 win against Wigan, which took the pressure off Rafa Benitez for a bit, and going through in both cup competitions eased the situation a bit again. It doesn’t matter if he drops points on the road, where Chelsea haven’t won since a surprisingly easy 4-0 win at Stoke.
Benitez began his Chelsea career managing against City, a 0-0 draw that brought the boos from across Stamford Bridge upon the Spanish manager, who’s only fault is being the man opposite Jose Mourinho on the touchlines during the three seasons the ‘Special One’ spent managing at Stamford Bridge.
Manchester City’s form has been terrible as well, despite the camouflage of success in the FA Cup. They lost their last league match to Southampton, letting the title slip even further away, and haven’t won in the league Since a 2-0 home win against Fulham, followed by a draw against QPR and a home draw against Liverpool. Roberto Mancini is losing faith in his players, and they are in him, with the team’s creativity factor looking less and less apparent despite the on-paper talent he has at his disposal.
Prediction – Both teams need a win badly, and anything but a win for Manchester City will mean an official end to their title hopes. Still, because of the lack of confidence their managers are beaming towards them and the bad form both teams are in at the moment, a draw seems like the most likely result.