Sunday sees reigning Premier League champions Manchester City and FA Cup winners Chelsea contest the season’s traditional curtain-raiser, at Villa Park on this occasion. The stakes are high as the two big-spending giants of English football go head-to-head.
Roberto di Matteo’s Chelsea have a completely new look after their extravagant spending spree while Roberto Mancini has struggled to add players to his squad.
Brighton 3-1 Chelsea
Chelsea 0-1 AC Milan
MLS All Stars 3-2 Chelsea
Chelsea 1-1 PSG
Seattle Sounders 2-4 Chelsea
Man City: WWLWW
Limerick 0-4 Man City
Wolfsburg 0-2 Man City
Oldham 2-1 Man City
Malaysian Super League All Stars 1-3 Man City
Arsenal 0-2 Man City
Chelsea handed Man City their first defeat of the 2011/12 season with a 2-1 win at Stamford Bridge on 13th December.
Man City took revenge however by crucially defeating their rivals in a reverse of that match, prevailing 2-1 themselves at the Etihad on their road to the title.
Though honours are even as far as head to head is concerned last season, the two side’s recent run of form couldn’t be more different.
Of their last six competitive matches, Chelsea have won only three times, losing twice and drawing once.
City have won all six of their last six competitive matches.
Provisional Chelsea squad: Cech, Ferreira, Ivanovic, Terry, Cahill, Luiz, Cole, Bertrand, Mikel, Meireles, Romeu, Essien, Lampard, Ramires, Mata, Hazard, Benayoun, Malouda, Torres, Sturridge, Turnbull.
Provisional Manchester City squad: Hart, Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Kompany, K Toure, Lescott, Savic, Clichy, Kolarov, Milner, De Jong, Johnson, Nasri, Y Toure, Silva, Dzeko, Aguero, Tevez, Balotelli.
City have three injury concerns ahead of the new season.
Micah Richards and Gareth Barry definitely miss out. Richards injured his ankle during Great Britain’s defeat to South Korea in the Quarter Finals of the Olympic Men’s Football, whilst Barry still hasn’t recovered from the groin injury which ruled him out of this summer’s European Championships.
Team Captain Vincent Kompany had to pull out of the squads pre-season tour of the Far East with a calf complaint, and may have to settle for a place on the bench.
Chelsea’s only injury concern meanwhile is new signing Marko Marin – a summer capture from Werder Bremen. A hamstring injury means he will have to wait at least one more week before showing Chelsea fan’s what he is capable of.
Another of their new signings, Oscar, will also miss out as he will be looking to win Gold with Brazil on Saturday as they take of Mexico in the Olympic Men’s Football Final.
With Drogba gone, Sturridge still inexperienced, and Hazard in need of bedding in, a lot of the pressure will fall squarely on the shoulders of Torres to perform in the big games this season. The Spaniard will be looking to build on a successful summer of football after winning the Euro’s and will be hoping to put last season’s poor goal tally of seven in forty six appearances behind him.
John Terry v Sergio Aguero
Terry was mercilessly mocked for helping lift the Champions League trophy despite being banned for last season’s final but he has another chance to receive some silverware as Chelsea captain and earn further respite from his much-publicised troubles. Aguero will be looking to pick up where he left off last season after scoring the dramatic stoppage-time goal that earned City the title.
John Obi Mikel v Yaya Toure
Mikel’s Chelsea career looked in jeopardy before Roberto Di Matteo became manager but he ended the season as a crucial component of their midfield and was arguably their best player in the Champions League final. Toure hauled City back into the title race almost single-handedly towards the end of last season after their challenge had looked doomed and is arguably now the most complete midfielder in the country.
Fernando Torres v Vincent Kompany
To say this is a big season for Torres would be the ultimate understatement. Having struggled to adapt to Chelsea’s style of play, Chelsea are now adapting theirs in a way that will surely suit their record £50million signing. Kompany was the rock on which City’s title success was built and will need to be that again if they are to retain their crown and mount a serious Champions League challenge.
Chelsea may be the reigning European champions; however they definitely go into this game as the underdogs. The team has several new players, who’ll need time to gel before the season begins.
City on the other hand has a very settled line up; they also have pre-season form on their side. I think Mancini’s squad will just edge this match, but I’m excited to see Chelsea’s new players for the first time in a competitive situation.
Chelsea 1-2 Manchester City