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Manchester City v. Chelsea: Can Mourinho’s ‘Anti-Football’ claim City?

Feb 3, 2014, 12:52 PM EDT

Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester City - Premier League Getty Images
  • 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 kept three clean sheets in a row away from home in the Barclays Premier League.
  • 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

The match of the week in the Premier League falls on Monday when Manchester City host Chelsea on Monday (live 2:00pm ET on NBCSN and Live Extra) where a win by the Citizens will see them reclaim top spot in the Premier League.

City enter the match on fire having won eight straight in the league since the 1-1 draw with Southampton on December 7th. During that stretch Manuel Pellegrini’s men have scored 27 goals, sticking to their approach to kill opponents off with offense. And the bigger the opponent, the bigger the goal scoring display as Arsenal and Tottenham have found out, having had six and five put past them, respectively.

Defensively, City tend to be a bit lax through the middle where Vincent Kompany has yet to cement a proper counterpart in Joleon Lescott, Matija Nastasic and Martin Demichelis. And therein lies the soft spot most clubs try to access when playing City – hope to press high early on and nip one through the middle. Watford managed to do it twice last weekend in the FA Cup but the two goal deficit proved nothing for City’s firepower, who banged home four in the second half to win comfortably. Chelsea, however, are another story.

Jose Mourinho’s game plan against top competition is tried and tested: sit back, defend and if it’s on, try and score off the counter. This approach, which many have labeled “anti-football” and “boring”, was best displayed in the early season 0-0 draw at United and the December 23rd 0-0 draw at Arsenal. And that’s exactly what fans should expect from his side on Monday. Staunch defense, low (to no) scoring. Praying for a point on the road.

Chelsea enter the match after a bit of a stumble last week in the 0-0 draw at West Ham. Ironically enough, Mourinho called the Hammers’ approach “19th century football.” But the Blues haven’t lost in nine matches and if they can manage to win Monday will find themselves on even terms with City in the table, with only goal differential setting them back.

City will be without Sergio Aguero (hamstring), Samir Nasri (knee) and Javi Garcia (knock) while Chelsea striker Fernando Torres (knee) is their only significant player sidelined with injury.

What They’re Saying

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho: “Chelsea try to win every game. We are not going to change our philosophy. We are going in a certain direction, and just because we are playing a certain opponent doesn’t mean we are going to change that.”

City manager Manuel Pellegrini: “It is my job to make certain the players don’t believe all that and I am absolutely sure they don’t. They know perfectly well that the only target is to beat Chelsea in the next game. We are not invincible, no team is invincible. We are in a very good moment, but the difference between a win and a loss is so slight, in every match it is possible you can lose.”

Prediction

Chelsea will do their best to take the steam out of this match but City’s firepower is just too much. They will score, Chelsea will get stretched trying to equalize and I think City will get another.  2-0 to the home side.