It is only the second weekend of the Premier League season, but the top two from last term already come face to face as Manchester City and Chelsea meet in an eagerly anticipated clash at the Etihad Stadium.
The home side made the ideal preparation by sweeping aside West Bromwich Albion in dominant fashion on Monday evening, with Yaya Toure at the top of his game and David Silva typically bursting with creativity. It was performance which convinced plenty of observers that they are more capable of wresting the title back from their opponents, providing that they can maintain those lofty levels.
After a campaign disrupted by injury and some below-par displays, captain Vincent Kompany made the ideal start this time around, scoring the third in the West Midlands, but here he can expect much more of a test defensively, and this could also prove to be a significant afternoon for fellow centre-back Eliaquim Mangala, who struggled to win supporters over since making his debut in this fixture 11 months ago.
Chelsea seem to be going through the motions as they aim to defend their crown, and they were fortunate to come away with a draw at home to Swansea City having been second best for much of the game, often failing to match the dynamism and fluency of their opponents. Manager Jose Mourinho’s decision to risk Diego Costa yielded mixed results, as he did not aggravate an injury but was peripheral for almost the full 90 minutes.
But the Portuguese has once again been successful in deflecting attention away from his players. His highly questionable treatment of the club’s medical staff has been seen by many as unreasonable, thus grabbing many of the week’s headlines. The fact remains, however, that the Blues must play considerably better here than they did against Swansea, regardless of Mourinho’s aptitude for the most high-profile of matches.
Midfield duo Fernando and Fabian Delph are both out for Man City, who have Gael Clichy back in contention after an ankle injury. Sergio Aguero could make his first start of the season in attack.
Asmir Begovic will be in goal for Chelsea in place of the suspended Thibaut Courtois, sent off last time out. Oscar is a major doubt after picking up an injury in training, so Ramires or Juan Cuadrado could take his place.
Played for both – Wayne Bridge: After making a considerable impression at hometown club Southampton, 23-year-old Bridge signed for Chelsea in 2003 in a deal worth £7m. He scored three times in all competitions in his first season and appeared 15 times in the league as they triumphed in 2004-05. But he left for Man City in 2009 after playing second fiddle to Ashley Cole, going on to make 47 league outings for the club over a four-year period.