Although it is still very early days in the 2014/2015 Premier League season, making a real statement of intent against your closest title rivals can have a significant psychological impact. Reigning champions Manchester City host current leaders Chelsea at the Etihad in Week 5 in a game already billed as a clash between the two title favourites.
It is undoubtedly the biggest game of the season so far, with both teams looking to establish dominance at the summit through the considerable quality they possess. A battle of minds between Manuel Pellegrini and Jose Mourinho will add even more intrigue and suspense to a fixture that will be watched by millions of football fans across the world. Both teams could place a marker by securing victory, although the latest Premier League odds illustrate that it is too close to call in what could be a wonderful, open game or a cagey affair that fails to meet expectations.
An indifferent start to their campaign makes victory against the title favourites imperative for Manchester City, who are already five points behind Chelsea after just four games. A dominant 3-1 victory against Liverpool should have been the catalyst for Pellegrini’s men to assert themselves as reigning champions, but the shock defeat at home to Stoke and 2-2 draw at Arsenal has halted Manchester City’s progress.
Sergio Aguero has started the season in excellent form with 3 goals in 4 games, but City have yet to reproduce the performance levels that were pivotal in their surge towards the 2013/2014 Premier League title. Yaya Toure has also looked a shadow of the unstoppable powerhouse that made him integral to Manchester City’s success, with the Ivorian midfielder looking considerably short of match fitness in their Champions League defeat at Bayern Munich.
Pellegrini will need both players to be on top of their game to secure a positive result, while Vincent Kompany may need summer signing Eliaquim Mangala alongside him to combat the physical threat of Diego Costa.
Coming into the crunch game against fellow title contenders Manchester City with a 100% record makes Chelsea slight favourites to secure an invaluable victory at the Etihad. A repeat of last season’s 1-0 victory would do nicely for Jose Mourinho who has truly delivered on his word that his team would be much stronger in his second season since returning to Chelsea as manager.
Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa have made a major difference since arriving at the club during the summer, particularly the latter who has started life as a Chelsea player on fire with 7 goals in just 4 Premier League games. The former Atletico Madrid striker is a doubt for the Manchester City game due to a hamstring injury; his absence would be a big blow as his movement, physical approach and deadly eye for goal is exactly what Chelsea were missing last season.