Rafa Benitez’s first game as interim manager of Chelsea sees the European champions welcome Manchester City to Stamford Bridge in a crunch top of the table clash on Sunday afternoon.
Having led the table a month ago, Chelsea have gone four Premier League games without a win to fall four points behind current league leaders City, a run that precipitated Roberto Di Matteo’s departure from the Chelsea hotseat.
Benitez could hand protege Fernando Torres a return to the starting XI after being left on the bench in Di Matteo’s final match in charge against Juventus in the Champions League in midweek. Elsewhere, John Terry and Frank Lampard look set to miss out once more with knee and calf injuries respectively, while Daniel Sturridge faces a late fitness test on a hamstring injury.
Defending league champions Manchester City come into the clash on the back of their own midweek Champions League disappointment, with a 1-1 draw against Real Madrid sending them out of the competition at the group stage for the second consecutive season.
However, Roberto Mancini’s men currently sit top and unbeaten in the Premier League so far and will travel to Stamford Bridge confident of success. City are hopeful that captain and key defender Vincent Kompany will overcome a knee problem in time to take his place in the defence alongside Gael Clichy at left-back, who has recovered from an ankle complaint. Mancini’s main decision is to choose Sergio Aguero’s partner from super-sub Edin Dzeko and Carlos Tevez.
Mario Balotelli may make a return to the City squad after being hindered by a back problem while Micah Richards and Jack Rodwell remain long-term absentees.