Manchester City v Chelsea

Our busy festive schedule got off to a good, if somewhat unexpected but exciting start at the Bridge on Boxing Day. Near neighbours Fulham came from 2-0 down (an ultra-rare mistake by Petr Cech and a striker’s tackle by Joe Cole cost us) before the genius of Hernan Crespo rescued all three points — which ultimately is the most important statistic.

Shaun Wright-Phillips will be making his first appearance back at the City of Manchester Stadium since his summer move to West London. The diminutive winger has yet to reproduce the brilliant form he showed for City, mostly due to lack of opportunites, but Jose Mourinho spoke this week of giving him more chances to shine during this congested Christmas and New Year period: “The best thing for [Wright-Phillips] is that in this period I will rotate players and he will get a chance to play and get confidence from good performances,” he said.

Neither Damien Duff or Asier Del Horno made it on to the bench against Fulham. Both are said to be close to returning from Achilles and thigh injuries respectively. Meanwhile Michael Essien is out due to illness, while Ricardo Carvalho is missing with an Achilles problem.

Prediction: Man City took four points off us last season. They blighted Mourinho’s excellent start in English football by nicking all three points in this corresponding fixture — 1-0, a Nicolas Anelka penalty — and held out to become the only team to prevent us from scoring at all when they visited the Bridge.

This season City have been shipping goals galore but also scoring for fun. They put five past Charlton at the Valley then lost to West Brom; they thrashed Birmingham 4-1 at home then lost 4-3 to Wigan at the JJB on Boxing Day. The epitome of inconsistency. I can see them putting one past us today, but their porous back line will struggle to cope with our attacking prowess. David James can’t have two miracle matches against us, can he? 1-3.

Related links:

Manchester City 0 – 1 Chelsea · Update

See Joe Cole’s goal here (downloadable zip file).

Match reports: BBC Sport; Sky Sports; ESPNSoccernet; Sporting Life; Official Chelsea FC Website; The Times; The Independent; The Guardian; Daily Telegraph.

Related links: