3 Keys to Victory for Chelsea Against Manchester City
Despite last Wednesday's disappointing draw with West Ham, the Blues are still just three points behind Man City and second place in the League table.
And though a win would be invaluable, a loss would be absolutely catastrophic for Chelsea and cause a blow to their title hopes from which it would be nearly impossible to recover.
Chelsea have already triumphed once this season over their sky blue rivals from the north, and they can certainly do so again if they take the right approach to the game. Here are the three keys to victory for Chelsea.
This first point might seem quite obvious, and neutralizing the attack of a team that has won all 11 of its home games and scored 68 goals in the League so far this season is perhaps the most difficult task that any of Man City's opponents will face.
However, if there is one team who is up to this task, it is one led by Jose Mourinho.
Chelsea have managed to come away with clean sheets against both Manchester United and Arsenal on the road this season. Although City are a different kettle of fish, Chelsea will be confident of doing the same on Monday.
Much of Man City's offense comes from David Silva, so he will be a player that Chelsea will want to stop. As we all know, however, it is not as simple as stifling just one player. It is for this reason that we are likely to see Chelsea sit back and try to score on the counter-attack.
Chelsea had 39 shots against West Ham, of which only nine were on target. Much of this was down to solid defending from the entire West Ham team, but there was an obvious lack of precision when it came to Chelsea's finishing.
With Fernando Torres still out, Jose Mourinho only has two strikers to call upon. This will leave much up to the rest of the team to create, and take, opportunities in front of goal.
Of course, Manchester City will not play the way that West Ham did last Wednesday, but their defense is strong enough to frustrate Chelsea if they do not take their chances early on.
If Mourinho stays true to form, Chelsea's scoring chances are likely to be limited to counter-attacks, and may be few and far between. This makes it even more crucial that the Blues take the chances they get, if and when they get them.
Chelsea will be trying their hardest to stifle Manchester City's talented midfield, but they must make sure that they do not do the same thing to their own.
If they are to secure three points rather than one, it is the midfield that will provide them. In particular, the playmakers Oscar and Eden Hazard will be looking to add to their impressive form.
Hazard in particular will come up against Pablo Zabaleta. It is one contest that might just decide the outcome of the match, and perhaps the title. Zabaleta is a talented midfielder who will need watching, but we might just see Hazard take advantage of the space that he leaves on more than one occasion.
Mourinho will expect discipline from his attacking midfielders, but Chelsea fans will hope to see some of their trademark flair as well, as it will almost certainly be their play that hands them the victory.