Chance City to blast from the blocks

  • By: Ben Coley
  • Last Updated: February 3 2014, 19:59 GMT

Ben Coley previews Monday night's crucial Premier League clash between Manchester City and Chelsea.

Alvaro Negredo and Edin Dzeko can ensure City don't miss Sergio Aguero
Alvaro Negredo and Edin Dzeko can ensure City don't miss Sergio Aguero

Manchester City v Chelsea (2000 GMT)

Before attempting to predict the outcome of this game, it's important to establish whether or not you believe Jose Mourinho.

The Chelsea manager says his side will try to win at the Etihad Stadium and if that's truly the case, we're in for a cracker and over 2.5 goals (4/5) is close to a certainty.

The problem is that while Mourinho may claim otherwise, Chelsea haven't really tried to win when faced with trips to their rivals in the Premier League since his return to Stamford Bridge.

At times they looked like they might win at Old Trafford but ultimately 0-0 was a fair reflection of a match they started without a recognised striker. Soon after, Chelsea lost 1-0 at Everton having created little while it was clear that a 0-0 draw at Arsenal represented a satisfactory result, too.

The only time they've scored away from home at a rival was when drawing 1-1 at Tottenham and the man who obliged that day, Fernando Torres, will be missing from the side which faces this huge challenge on Monday night.

Such has been Manchester City's dominance at home that it's hard to say exactly what the best plan of action would be for Chelsea. If they do play to contain City then they may limit the damage, but can they really keep out this attack for 90 minutes even in the absence of Sergio Aguero? I'm not so sure.

But if they go for the jugular, can they outscore City? They may well find the net given that the hosts tend to concede in open games, but Arsenal, Tottenham and United were all comfortably out-scored and Chelsea are no more potent an attacking force.

Personally, I think they'll play for a point and bank on their defence - the best in the division away from home - being able to hold firm. It's a plan which could work, but I don't think it will.

City's home record needs no introduction but here it is anyway: 11 games, 11 wins, 42 scored and just eight conceded. They beat Liverpool, Crystal Palace and Cardiff without Aguero and in Edin Dzeko and Alvaro Negredo have two world-class strikers more than capable of plugging the gap.

The more I see of City, the more I consider them comfortably the best team in this division and they're not far off the top of the tree in Europe, either.

They've the additional boost of having beaten Chelsea in the last four renewals of this fixture and I'm confident they can do so again.

By all means back them to do so at 17/20, and consider the 14/5 quoted about a home win to nil if, like me, you think Chelsea's mandate will centre around defending.

However, my policy is to overlook slight concerns about a packed away defence and take the rare opportunity to back City in the half-time/full-time betting at 2/1.

City have won 17 times in the Premier League so far this season, and in 14 of them they led at the break. That's a remarkably impressive first-half record and includes victories against Tottenham, Arsenal, United and Liverpool.

If Chelsea do succeed in keeping them out for 45 minutes then a frustrated City could struggle to put them to bed after the break anyway, so it could just be that the hosts need a fast start to win.

Everything about the way they've operated all season at home suggests they'll produce one.

Verdict: Manchester City 2 Chelsea 0

Opta facts:

Manchester City have won 19 and lost just one of their last 21 Barclays Premier League games at the Etihad Stadium, including winning the last 11 in a row.

Chelsea have lost their last four Premier League visits to the Etihad, but no team has won more games away at Man City in Premier League history than the west Londoners (10).

Man City have won their last eight Premier League games in a row, longer than any run secured in the title winning season of 2011-12 (most was seven).

  • Posted at 1655 GMT on 02/02/2014.