Roberto Mancini and Rafael Benitez find themselves entwined in different kind of race to the one they had planned earlier in the season. Both were legitimate title contenders way back in November, but now it's a case of who gets their P45 first.
The form book suggests Raf, but a home defeat for City will see Mancini's odds tumble further.
The stats are neither here nor there with this fixture, City have rolled Chelsea over thrice in the three outings at the Etihad, but polished previous against Chelsea aside, the Champions have 2 points from the last 9 available: the reasoning behind Fred Done paying out in February on Manchester United. Chelsea too find themselves under performing in the league, their matches continually interspersed with cup replays and second legs. There's a paragraph that doesn't help predictions.
Team wise, Man City will probably be left with Lescott at centre half, which is never ideal, but other than that Mancini can take his pick. Chelsea too have pretty much everyone important available, Lampard and Ivanovic had rests midweek and should return. With the continual rotation of forwards from both bosses (Dzeko & Tevez, Torres & Ba) the best betting in the first scorer market comes from midfield. While Sergio Aguero proved last week he is as sharp as ever, the Chelsea rear guard won't give him the space that Leeds did. Expect Yaya Toure to be the stand out player here in a game where midfield dominance will decide the outcome. The Ivorian is 10/1 with Bet365 to score first.
Despite being totally outclassed by Saints a fortnight ago, Man City should show some backbone at home here. Even money at Paddy Power is a generous price and certainly a bet for the coupon; maybe not a lump though. The question here is: what effect the result, either way, will have on Mancini's and Benitez's summer holidays? As a side note, Mancini is currently 3/1 to be the next Premier League managerial casualty, Benitez 9/1. (Lambert 16/1!)
Yaya Toure to score first @ 10/1 with Bet365
Yaya Toure Man of the Match @ 10/1 with Stan James
Man City to win -1 @ 5/2 with Ladbrokes
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