Rafael Benitez takes charge of first Chelsea game against Manchester City
Last Updated: 25/11/12 6:56am
Rafael Benitez: Takes charge of his first Chelsea game against City
Rafael Benitez takes charge of his first game as Chelsea manager when the Blues host Premier League leaders Manchester City in Sunday's blockbuster clash.
The two heavyweights enter the Stamford Bridge showdown on the back of similarly rough weeks in Europe, with City having crashed out of the UEFA Champions League at the group stage for a second successive year, while Chelsea's qualification hopes are hanging by a thread.
The 3-0 defeat to Juventus which left the Blues on the brink of elimination was swiftly followed by the sacking of manager Roberto Di Matteo - who just six months ago led the club to their greatest ever triumph of winning the competition.
Former Liverpool boss Benitez has been appointed on an interim basis until the end of the season and takes charge of a Chelsea side sitting third in the Premier League and four points adrift of City in the top spot.
Despite their lofty status, the Blues have failed to win a league game in four, having suffered an upset at West Brom last weekend when they were beaten 2-1.
Benitez will look to stake his intent by getting off to a winning start with Chelsea against the Premier League champions, who are unbeaten in the league this season and have won eight of their 12 encounters.
Roberto Mancini's men were unable to prevent their slide out of Europe this week when they could only draw 1-1 with Real Madrid, and will be keen to get back on track in West London.
Having knocked local rivals Manchester United off the top spot, Mancini's side sit a point ahead of their neighbours, who could reclaim pole position with a win against QPR on Saturday.
Chelsea captain John Terry is still missing for the Blues after he picked up a knee injury against Liverpool two weeks ago.
Daniel Sturridge missed the defeat to Juventus with a hamstring problem and remains sidelined, but Fernando Torres could return to the starting XI after being benched in Turin.
Benitez is without midfielder Frank Lampard as he continues his recovery from a calf injury.
Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany (knee) will be given a fitness test ahead of the trip to West London after suffering an injury late in the midweek clash with Real Madrid.
Striker Mario Balotelli, dropped for the defeat of Tottenham a fortnight ago, has been training after being forced out of the last two games by a back injury.
Left-back Gael Clichy (ankle) is back in contention while midfielder Jack Rodwell (hamstring) edges closer to a return but right-back Micah Richards (knee) is still out.
Previous game's starting line-ups
- 1 Cech
- 2 Ivanovic
- 24 Cahill
- 26 Terry
- 28 Azpilicueta
- 7 Ramires
- 5 Zouma
- 4 Fabregas
- 22 Willian
- 19 Costa
- 10 Hazard E
Team taken from Chelsea vs Tottenham Hotspur (Capital One Cup) on Sunday 1st March 2015
- 1 Hart
- 5 Zabaleta
- 4 Kompany
- 20 Mangala
- 11 Kolarov
- 8 Nasri
- 42 Toure Y
- 25 Fernandinho
- 21 Silva
- 16 Aguero
- 10 Dzeko
Team taken from Manchester City vs Liverpool (Barclays Premier League) on Sunday 1st March 2015
Barclays Premier League
|9||West Ham United||27||39|
|13||West Bromwich Albion||27||30|
|17||Queens Park Rangers||26||22|