When and where:
Sunday August 20th 2006, Stamford Bridge.
Hard to tell if pre-season form will have any bearing on the game. We ended badly in China with a 4-3 defeat to Kashima Antlers, but Chelsea themselves were beaten 2-1 in the Community Shield last week again Liverpool - a game in which Jose Mourinho conceded they were some way short of fitness.
Michael Ballack is expected to miss the game for Chelsea along with Joe Cole, Peter Cech and Robert Huth, whilst Richard Dunne has returned to full training for us but Didi Hamman may join Andrew Cole on the sidelines.
Keys to the game:
Although Ballack is expected to miss the game, our midfield will have a tough ask coming up against Lampard, Makelele and Essien. If he plays, Didi Hamman will be the key in the midfield in trying to shut down Chelsea's attacks. The key for me though will be how our defence copes in shutting down Andriy Shevchenko.
Shaun Wright-Phillips struggled last season for Chelsea with limited opportunities - something which contributed to his World Cup axing. With Damien Duff having moved on and Joe Cole injured he may get an early season opportunity.
Why City will win:
We will come out of the blocks quickly with the new players keen to impress. Barton will get a grip in midfield and outshine Lampard. This will be coupled with a lethargic showing from Chelsea and see us sneak a 1-0 win.
Why City will lose:
Even without their missing players through injury, Chelsea will have enough to take the points. Pearce will send us out with a damage limitation exercise but Chelsea will have enough quality to come through.
Chelsea 2 City 0
Saturday, August 19, 2006
When and where: