Manchester City's Jesus Navas and Stevan Jovetic celebrate a goal against Tottenham in the English Premier League, 29 January. Reuters
Manchester City have been a force unparalleled at home this season, knocking goals for fun, and making most opponents look like schoolboys. However, come Monday night when they come up against Chelsea, a Jose Mourinho side finally starting to look like the real deal, Manuel Pellegrini's five-star attacking unit will be put to the stiffest test against the best defence in the English Premier League.
Where to Watch Live
The game is scheduled for a 8 pm GMT (1.30 am IST Tuesday morning) start with live coverage on Star Sport 4 and Star Sports HD2 in India. The match can also be live streamed online HERE. Catch the action in the UK live online HERE, while US viewers can do the same HERE. Live stream the game in Australia HERE. Viewers in North Africa and the Middle East can watch the action online via live streaming HERE, with the same option for viewers from the rest of Africa HERE.
With Arsenal winning on Sunday, City and Chelsea have been put under further pressure to take home a positive result. While the latter will he reasonably happy to come away with a point from the impregnable confines of the Etihad, City will settle for nothing less than three points and that place back at the top of the table, which Arsenal now hold after their 2-0 win against Crystal Palace.
"The game against Chelsea is very important for both teams," Pellegrini said. "Arsenal and Chelsea are both having a good season.
"Whatever happens in the game, the season is not over. There are still 42 points to play for. "At the moment, we are not thinking about titles. We are thinking about improving and winning every game."
City were supreme in their last Premier League fixture, putting Tottenham to the sword for the second time in the season with a 5-1 victory. Chelsea, on the other hand, were frustrated by a stubborn West Ham side, with the Blues failing to find the target at Stamford Bridge, despite having nearly 40 shots.
The potency of City's strikers, even without the injured Sergio Aguero, could prove to be the defining aspect in the game, with Chelsea's forwards, as has been highlighted so many times this season, hardly up to scratch.
"I want to attack them, I can tell you that," said Mourinho, who usually takes a more pragmatic approach in the big games against attack-minded sides. "But maybe after 10 or 20 minutes you realise Jose isn't attacking. If I don't it's because I can't. I don't know if other teams refuse to attack or if they can't do it.
Chelsea skipper John Terry tackles Manchester United
striker Danny Welbeck in their English Premier League game, 19 January. Reuters
"This game is 11 against 11 and I hope the referee is good and not unlucky. Mike [Dean] is a very good referee so I trust him completely, but I hope he is not unlucky to send somebody off. I hope it is a good game, and after that if Man City are much better than us and we can't express our game and our football, that's a different story."
Chelsea can go level on points with Manchester City with victory at the Etihad on Monday night, something that no side in the Premier League have been able to do, and if Mourinho pulls one of those proverbial rabbits out of the hat, like he did when the Blues won 2-1 at Stamford Bridge in the reverse fixture, then it will certainly make an already enthralling title chase even more interesting.
Team news: Manchester City: Aguero has been ruled out for a month with a hamstring injury, while Samir Nasri and Javi Garcia remain on the treatment table.
"It will be difficult because he is a top player for us but we have the players to replace him," Pellegrini said of missing the services of Aguero. "He has just come back from injury. Alvaro Negredo and Edin Dzeko replaced him then and Stevan Jovetic can now."
Chelsea: New signing Mohamed Salah could be in line to make his debut, while Fernando Torres, the man who scored that dramatic late winner against City in October, is ruled out, along with long-term absentee Marco Van Ginkel.
Key men: Manchester City: The home side just have so many attacking weapons at the moment, that the goals can come from any department, with the likes of David Silva, Yaya Toure and Jesus Navas acting as the creative forces, while Alvaro Negredo and Edin Dzeko have been banging in goals for fun.
Chelsea: Eden Hazard and Oscar will have to step up and create as many chances as possible for their side. However, the pressure will be on Chelsea's back four, and much will depend on how John Terry marshals his troops to quell the challenge of the best attacking side in the league.
Expected lineups: Manchester City: Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Kolarov; Toure, Fernandinho; Navas, Dzeko, Silva; Negredo.
Chelsea: Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta; Matic, Ramires; Willian, Oscar, Hazard; Eto'o.
Prediction: 2-1 to Manchester City
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