This week’s top match sees second placed Manchester City visit Stamford Bridge for a mouthwatering clash against table-toppers Chelsea as both sides look to down each other for the Premier League title.
To gather an insight into the minds of the two sets of fans we asked members of the respective supporters’ clubs to share with us their predictions, likely line-ups and players to watch.
Do you agree or have they missed the mark? Use #360Fans to share with us your thoughts.
— Goal India (@Goal_India) January 31, 2015
TOBY YOUNG – CHELSEA UAE SUPPORTERS CLUB
Chelsea have come out of their Christmas and New Year lull strongly, despite last weekend’s set back against Bradford in the FA Cup. The belief will be back with the players having dispatched an improving Liverpool side on Tuesday night.
Chelsea will aim to field their strongest team, although there appears to be a few concerns at the moment. Cesc Fabregas came off with a tight hamstring on Tuesday night, so is a doubt, as too are Felipe Luis and Branislav Ivanovic, the former with a calf injury and the latter with a gashed foot. I suspect Ivanovic will recover, and that Cesar Azpilicueta will replace Luis having got over his own injury woes.
If Fabregas does not recover, Ramires (pictured) should be the man to come in, although Mourinho may decide to play a little more defensively and look to John Obi Mikel to partner Matic.
Manchester City have played well in the league of late although they too tripped up in the FA Cup last weekend. Not having Aguero for a number of weeks clearly took its toll on them, while the disappearance of Yaya Toure to AFCON will also likely have an impact.
Chelsea player to watch: Nemanja Matic – If he can play as he did when Chelsea beat Manchester City soon after his arrival then Chelsea will have a much better chance. Shackling Manchester City’s attacking instincts is going to be key to any success.
Man City player to watch: Frank Lampard – The returning hero of August has now become somewhat of a pantomime villain for Chelsea fans having helped Manchester City out of a number of holes recently. I fully expect him to start against Chelsea. Partly for the shock value, but he does also possess undeniable quality.
Prediction: 1-1 draw similar to the fixture at the Etihad earlier in the season. Mourinho will no doubt see this as a game Chelsea do not have to win, but won’t want to lose either.
LIKELY XI: Courtois; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta; Matic, Ramires; Hazard, Oscar, Willian; Costa
If you want to join us to watch the game, we will be watching at Loca in the Dubai Marine Beach Resort and Spa. Kick-off is at 9.30 in the UAE, so people will no doubt start gathering from around 8.00.
DARREN BALL – ABU DHABI BLUES
City travel to Chelsea for the late game on Saturday knowing that a win is pretty much a must. At this stage of the season an 8 point gap will be extremely difficult to close on a Chelsea team that has been ruthless so far this season. A draw would not be the end of the campaign but surely we must be looking to take all 3 points.
Chelsea are coming off a lengthy midweek Capital One Cup semi-final, making this an exciting top of the table clash with both sides missing key players.
City will be without Samir Nasri, Yaya Toure and new signing Wilfried Bony and there are doubts over the fitness of Vincent Kompany. He has looked vulnerable over the past few games and could possibly be benched.
Sergio Aguero has now had a couple of games under his belt to return to match fitness and hopefully the rest of the team has recovered from their bizarre trip to the UAE, which is hard to believe Manuel Pellegrini sanctioned.
Chelsea are facing a few problems themselves all of which I don’t really care about. The important thing for City is how we approach the game and how we play. With the transfer window ready to close shortly after this game it could be time for some of the players to show they should still be a part of the team for the final run in…. Jesus Navas, Stevan Jovetic and Fernando, we are looking at you.
Prediction: Chelsea 1-2 City
Likely XI: Hart; Zabaleta, Demichelis, Managala, Clichy; Fernandinho, Milner, Silva Navas; Dzeko, Aguero
City player to watch: Edin Dzeko – If he plays he will be out to secure his long term future when Bony returns from Africa. He has always been a big game player for City and has come under massive scrutiny over the years, but has always delivered when it matters most.
Chelsea player to watch: Oscar – If City allow space in front of their defence, Oscar could be the roaming player that could really punish them. Hazard will be closely watched by Pablo Zabaletta which will allow a bit more ball time for Oscar.
Where to watch: The Abu Dhabi Blues, the only Official Manchester City Supporters Club in the UAE will be gathering to watch the game at Mcgettigans AUH.
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