Manchester City midfielder Frank Lampard scored a memorable goal against his former club Chelsea in the dying moments to a 1-1 draw at the Etihad stadium. The result was greeted with delight throughout the Premier League for several reasons, as it prevented Chelsea from stretching their lead at the top of the table to a mammoth eight points. The lead still stays at five points going into match day 7.
Vincent Kompany says that he is not concerned about Chelsea’s lead at this stage in the season. City have won the Premier League title only twice, which is paltry compared to Manchester United or Arsenal’s haul. Both these victories came in almost identical situations with impressive form at the business end of the campaign being the chief contributor. The first title in 2012 came by usurping Manchester United by eight points with only a handful of matches left. Even last season, Arsenal looked odds-on favourite during Christmas and New Year.
Chelsea, though, presents a different challenge than both these clubs. The United team that lost the eight-point advantage in the last few weeks of the season is widely remembered as one of the poorest during Sir Alex Ferguson’s two decade long era. Arsenal, for the best part of a decade, have been good only for a few months in a Premier League season.
This Chelsea team is arguably one of the strongest in the league after the addition of players like Thibaut Courtois, Filipe Luis, Cesc Fabregas, and Diego Costa. They probably the right ingredients like experience, ability, and a great manager. Players like John Terry and Didier Drogba will be able to provide the knowhow required to win the league title, while Eden Hazard and Diego Costa can offer the much-needed threat up front.
Kompany may say that he does not fear Chelsea, but he has every reason to do so. Manuel Pellegrini had the element of surprise in his first season, but he is already finding out that clubs have started adopting a tactic to play against his cavalier City team. Stoke City played with a back five at times that prevented City’s biggest arsenal – ability to get in behind the defence and wreak havoc – from being effective. City have just two Premier League wins this season and it may not be just coincidence. More and more teams will try to stifle them by adopting a highly defensive approach especially at the Etihad.
The next five matches, though, will be keenly watched by clubs trying to win the Premier League. City have a tough run of fixtures during this period with matches against Tottenham and Manchester United. However, they are pale in comparison with Chelsea’s fixture list which sees the London club have high-profile clashes against Arsenal, Manchester United, and Liverpool along with local derbies against Crystal Palace and QPR.
Jose Mourinho will be looking at more than 10 points from these five matches. It will put the blues in in great shape going into the December and January schedule, which is often the most hectic in the league season.
The first of the tough fixture list for Chelsea starts with a home match against Arsenal. This fixture witnessed a 6-0 massacre of the gunners last season. The opposition, though, are much stronger with the addition of names like Danny Welbeck and Alexis Sanchez. City, meanwhile, are up against Aston Villa who have lost the last two encounters 3-0. However, these losses have come against Arsenal and Chelsea – two teams that most clubs will struggle against this season.
City struggled against Villa at Villa Park last season, but back then, their away record was a major source of concern. A 2-0 win against Newcastle and a 4-2 win over Hull City last weekend suggest that Pellegrini’s men have overcome this problem.
It is becoming increasingly likely that the Premier League title this season will be contested between Chelsea and City.