Man City vs Chelsea: Which PL heavyweight will come out on top?

Two of the top title contenders are set to face off against each other for the first time this season, as Chelsea travels to Manchester to face the Citizens on Sunday afternoon.

Both teams are coming off of uninspiring Champions League debuts. City had a heartbreaking loss on Wednesday in Munich as Jerome Boateng, a former City player, scored in the 90th minute to put Bayern ahead 1-0. Chelsea also had a disappointing match after a surprising 1-1 draw against Schalke 04.

These two clubs last met in February, when they played twice in the span of two weeks between league play as well as the FA Cup. In league play, Chelsea snapped City’s 20 game unbeaten streak thanks to a smooth left footed shot from Branislov Ivanovic. Chelsea was the stronger squad that day, but were unable to stop Pellegrini’s men less than a fortnight later as the Blues ousted Chelsea from the the FA Cup, 2-0.

Key Players

This match has stars all over the pitch; but it is hard to argue that the key players aren’t each teams strikers.

Chelsea’s Diego Costa is the hottest player in the Premier League right now. He is scoring goals at a record setting pace, and none of Chelsea’s first four opponents have had an answer for him. He has already found the back of the net seven times in this young season, coming off of a hat trick against Swansea last weekend. The Spaniard is currently converting 50% of his shots into goals; a truly astonishing rate.

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Costa’s striking counterpart across the pitch will be Sergio Agüero. The Argentinian is fixed to reclaim his starting spot at the head of the Blues lineup after spending much of the last month coming off the bench due to fitness issues. Agüero was the most efficient striker in the league last season, scoring 17 goals in 23 appearances in an injury riddled season. Compared to Costa, Agüero’s three goals this season seem pedestrian, yet that is good enough to earn him a tie for second place in race for the “Golden Boot”.

Match-up to watch

Can Costa be contained?

That is the question that Vincent Kompany and Martin Demichelis will hope to answer with a resounding “Yes!”. The center back duo are tasked with the responsibility of stopping the Spaniard. The quality of both players is undoubted, and they have proven their ability before, but their London opponents have rolled through the first month with a level of ease that has to strike fear into any defense.

Because of the firepower that City themselves possess, and the relative lack of form of Chelsea’s defense (6 goals conceded thus far), Kompany and Demichelis do not need to keep Costa off the score sheet completely. This game could easily end up in a shootout, and if the City duo can slow Costa to just a goal (as ridiculous as that sounds) they will be in a good position to win the match.

In a game that will have superstars clashing at every position, two world-class defenders facing a striker as in-form as Costa will be the most intriguing match-up, and likely will determine the outcome of the match on Sunday.

Lineup

Prediction

Vincent Kompany knocks one home off an early set-piece, Costa counters, Hazard hammers a second past Hart, and Agüero equalizes late in an absolute dynamite match at the Etihad.

Manchester City 2 – 2 Chelsea

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