Chelsea v Man City preview
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Last Updated: 12/12/11 11:29pm
If Chelsea have any hope of firing themselves back into the title race, they really need to end Manchester City's unbeaten start to the season on Monday.
The Blues find themselves 10 points off the pace and out of the Premier League's top four following the weekend action.
They need only a point to return to the UEFA Champions League places, but they are about to face their most daunting test of the campaign so far.
Andre Villas-Boas' side have been infuriatingly inconsistent at times, but three wins in their last four in the league and qualification for the last 16 of the Champions League suggest they may have turned the corner.
They have, however, already come unstuck against fellow title hopefuls Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool this term - with two of those defeats coming on home soil.
Chelsea must avoid suffering a similar fate in their latest outing, with it imperative that they take something from a crunch clash.
A run that has seen them net in their last 14 games at Stamford Bridge, scoring more than once in 10 of their last 11, bodes well, but the clean sheet they picked up against Wolves in their last home date was their first shut-out in eight.
Manchester City will arrive in the capital boasting enviable attacking options and will fancy their chances of breaching the Blues' back four.
The league leaders have seen Sergio Aguero score 11 times in 13 top-flight outings this term, while Mario Balotelli has seven goals in his last nine.
Unsurprisingly, such firepower has seen City make the best-ever start to a Premier League season - with 38 points taken from a possible 42.
They are unbeaten in their last eight away games, winning six, but will be aware that their record at Stamford Bridge is not the best.
The Blues have failed to score in eight of their last nine visits to West London and have won just twice on Chelsea turf during the Premier League era.
Chelsea will be without the suspended David Luiz for the crucial top-of-the-table clash.
Defender Luiz picked up his fifth domestic yellow card of the season in Saturday's 3-0 win at Newcastle and serves a one-match ban.
Right-back Jose Bosingwa has therefore made a timely recovery from the adductor strain that caused him to miss Tuesday's Champions League success against Valencia.
Josh McEachran is back in training after an ankle knock, while fellow midfielder Michael Essien is expected to return from knee surgery early next year.
Micah Richards looks set to miss Manchester City's trip to the capital.
Richards was ruled out of Wednesday's Champions League win over Bayern Munich with a calf injury and may not shake off the problem in time.
Central defender Stefan Savic played in his position in midweek, but Pablo Zabaleta is now fit and could slot back in.
Left-back Aleksandar Kolarov remains sidelined with a groin injury.
Possible starting XIs
Chelsea: Cech, Bosingwa, Ivanovic, Terry, Cole, Lampard, Romeu, Ramires, Sturridge, Drogba, Mata.
Man City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Lescott, Clichy, Nasri, Barry, Y Toure, Aguero, Dzeko, Silva.
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