Manchester City-Chelsea Preview
LONDON (SE) - Two clubs who have endured a tumultuous week meet at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday afternoon in the highlight match of the Premier League weekend.
Chelsea look destined for a group stage European exit following a humiliating 3-0 defeat at Juventus, and the club followed up that loss by sacking manager Roberto Di Matteo. The Blues (7-3-2) are without a win in four in the league after winning seven of their first eight, and new manager Rafael Benitez is excited by the challenge of rediscovering the form of the reigning European champions.
"This is a massive club that allows me to fight for trophies," said Benitez in his first pre-match press conference with the club. "When you have an opportunity like this you have to take it. I will try to win from day one. In seven months we can win some trophies and I am sure that everyone will be delighted. Hopefully the fans will be really pleased at the end of Sunday's game. At the beginning, they are very clever and they will say we have to support the manager because that is the best for the team, and I think they will.
"Today I spoke to the players and everything was fine - the intensity was there and I spoke to them about ideas and I saw no problems. The players have trained really well and I am sure that with this attitude, they will improve and I think that with the players and staff together, we can win important things for the club."
Sunday's hosts Manchester City (8-0-4) crashed out of the Champions League with a midweek draw against Real Madrid, but they are faring better domestically. The defending Premier League champions have won six of seven and are the only unbeaten team in the English top flight, and striker Sergio Aguero is confident they will retain their league title.
"It's true Chelsea, (Manchester) United, Arsenal and the other teams have strengthened their squads intelligently - we are the champions and they want to take us on," said Aguero. "But it won't be easy for them because we are growing as a team and we know each other better every time we play.
"We are destined to win more trophies and barring any major setbacks, we will."
City have doubts over Vincent Kompany, Gael Clichy and Mario Balotelli, while Micah Richards and Jack Rodwell are out. Chelsea are expected to be without Daniel Sturridge, John Terry and Frank Lampard.
Chelsea have not gone four games without a win in any of their title-winning seasons, and it has been two years since they last had a five-match run without tasting victory. There are only four players in the Premier League who have managed five assists, but two play for Chelsea - Juan Mata and Eden Hazard.
City striker Carlos Tevez has scored seven goals in his last eight games against Chelsea and has won each of his last seven against the Blues. Fellow City forward Edin Dzeko has scored five goals as a substitute this season, but has not scored in his four appearances against Sunday's opponents.
The last meeting between these teams was for the Community Shield, which Manchester City won, while the Citizens also won at the Etihad in the league last season - with Aguero and Samir Nasri scoring in a 2-1 win.