TOUCHLINE UI: UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: ARSENAL V BAYERN MUNCHEN PREVIEW

For a second year running, the Gunners and the Bavarians once again square off in the Second Round of the UEFA Champions League. Defeat on match day six cost Arsenal top spot – and FC Bayern Munchen await them in the round of 16, this time, as champions.

Arsenal V Bayern

 

 

 

 

The German side will be clear favorites to knock Arsenal out but Arsene Wenger’s men are much-improved this year and fans would point out the fact that they were a goal away from knocking Die Roten out last year. While it’s good news to know Arsenal are playing better football, their opponents have got better and have been blowing teams away. Would Bayern advance as expected or would Arsenal rise to the occasion and shock the Football World?

Podloski

 

 

 

 

 

LEAGUE POSTIONS

  • ARSENAL: P26 W 17 D 5 L4 GF 48 GA 26 GD +22 PTS 56 (2ND)
  • BAYERN MUNCHEN:P21 W19 D2 L0 GS 57 GA 9 GD +48 PTS 59 (1ST)

WEEKEND ENGAGEMENTS

  • Arsenal warmed up for this blockbuster tie by easing past Liverpool in the F.A Cup to advance to the Q-Finals.
  • For Bayern, they went 16 points clear in the Bundesliga with a comprehensive 4-0 win over Freiburg to extend their unbeaten league run to 46.

STORY SO FAR

ARSENAL

When the draws were made, most Arsenal fans had their hearts in their mouths as they were paired alongside last season’s Finalist, Borussia Dortmund, Napoli and Marseille. Group F was rightly dubbed the Group of Death.

Arsenal

 

 

 

 

 

They started with a win at the Stade Velodrome and made it two wins with a straightforward 2-0 home win over Napoli. They suffered a home defeat to Dortmund but regrouped to win at the Westfalenstadion to keep their qualification hopes on track. On Match Day Six, the Gunners lost 2-0 to Napoli in Italy and slipped down to second as Dortmund won 2-1 in France to top the Group.

Mesut Ozil

 

 

 

 

 

Qualifying out of the Group of Death represents an achievement but they like other teams left in the Competition would have their eyes on the Final at the Estadio da Luiz.

Arsenal’s last three home games against German opposition have all ended in defeats; 0-2 loss to Schalke 04 in last season’s clash, a 1-3 loss to Bayern and another 1-2 defeat in the hands of the gengen-passers, Dortmund in the Group Stage of this season’s Champions League.

The Gunners

 

 

 

 

 

GROUP RECORD

  • P 6 W 4 D 0 L 2 GF 8 GA 5 GD +3 PTS 12

BAYERN MUNCHEN

The European Champions began the defence in the Group D. They were grouped alongside Manchester City from England, Russia’s CSKA Moscow and Czech side Plzen.

The Bavarian Giants

 

 

 

 

 

They have so far been near flawless in the defence of their title. It started with a rout of CSKA at the Allianz Arena (3-0) and then a 3-1 win at the Etihad on Match Day Two followed. Consecutive wins over Viktoria Plzen ensured their qualification to the next round with two games to spare. They won 3-1 in an early kick-off in Russia before the Citizens gained some revenge in what is their first loss since the 0-2 loss to Arsenal last year.

Die Roten (The Reds)

 

 

 

 

 

They are yet to suffer defeat on their travels, and in their last three trips to the Queens’ Country, they have emerged victorious; a 3-1 win over Arsenal at the Emirates last year, Champions League Final triumph over Borussia Dortmund at Wembley and of course a 3-1 win at the Etihad earlier in the Campaign.

GROUP RECORD

  • P 6 W 5 D 0 L1 GF17 GA 5 GD +12 PTS 15(1st)

TEAM NEWS

ARSENAL

  • Aaron Ramsey and Theo Walcott will miss the tie as they continue to recover from physical problems. The former’s goal-scoring and box-to-box abilities while the latter’s pace and direct running would be huge losses for the Gunners.
  • Deadline loan signing Kim Kallstorm is also out of this tie
  • Long term absentee, Abou Diaby still remains out and would definitely the clash against Die Bayern.
  • Mikel Arteta would sit out of this game as He serves his one-match ban thanks to the red card he got in the 0-2 loss at Naples.

Arteta

 

 

 

 

 

Oxlade Chamberlain is back and has looked sharp in recent matches most notably in the weekend win over Liverpool. His return is a big boost to Arsenal especially with Walcott, the other player who brings width and pace, out.

BAYERN MUNCHEN

  • Frank Ribery would miss this clash thanks to a buttock surgery which was carried out to repair a torn Blood vessel.

frank Ribery with the UEFA Player of the Year Award

 

 

 

 

Xherdan Shaqiri tore his right quadriceps muscle in the routine 4-0 win over Freiburg over the weekend and would miss his side’s trip to London.

  • Holger Badstuber is a long term absentee and would miss this clash
  • On a positive note, Germany International Bastian Schweinsteiger is back and should start against the North London side.

MANAGERS AND EUROPE

  • ARSENE WENGER(ARSENAL)

Arsene Wenger

 

 

 

 

The Frenchman is a seasoned campaigner in Europe’s top flight Competition. He has guided his Arsenal side to their 14th successive knockout round.  A brilliant motivator, there are very few around who can match his experience. He’s however yet to win the Holy Grail. The closest He has come to winning it was in 2006 where they lost to Barcelona 1-2 in Paris.

  • JOSEP GUARDIOLA (BAYERN MUNCHEN)

Pep Guardiola

 

 

 

 

 

He is one of the best Managers around if not the best. He is an extremely brilliant tactician with an eye for the little details. He’s introduced the 4-1-4-1 formation, got his team playing with a single defensive midfielder, played with a false nine while still staying loyal to the high-pressing and transition game which brought great success last season. He’s one of those few to win the UEFA Champions League as a Player and Coach. As a Coach, he’s won it twice with Barcelona in 2009 and 2011.

WHAT ARSENAL MUST DO

  • Take Advantage of Narrow Full-Backs: One major difference between Guardiola’s Bayern and Guardiola’s Barcelona is the positioning of the full-backs. While Barcelona relied on Dani Alves and Alba/Abidal for width, at Bayern, he instead asks Rafinha and David Alaba to tuck in and provide extra passing options in the middle of the pitch and also help the pressing when they lose the ball. The disadvantage however is that space is left in wide areas that can be exploited. In Bayern’s 3-0 win over Dortmund, aware of their threat on the flanks, Guardiola gave his fullbacks a more conventional role. But since Arsenal tend to have their ‘wide’ midfielders come inside, Guardiola may not see the Gunners as a big threat down the flanks, and this also means Wenger could surprise him by starting Oxlade. As Guardiola tends to see his side’s failings early and adjust, they would have to take advantage quickly.

David Alaba

 

 

 

 

 

Play On The Counter: Bayern have the highest average possession in Europe, a whopping 71.1%.They will most likely see most of the ball on Wednesday so it is down to Arsenal to stay compact and hit them fast on the counter especially with gaps set to open up on the flanks and the fact that Pep plays with a single pivot in midfield would be of little help. I’m not suggesting park the bus as the Gunners would suffer for it but they have to really be patient, compact and take their chances when they see them. Dortmund exposed Bayern on the counter in the German Super Cup and while Pep has done a lot to work on that, the Bavarians are still prone to being caught out on the break.

Arsenal V Bayern

 

 

 

 

 

Apart from Oxlade and the injured Walcott, Arsenal is not a team with natural width, as earlier noted the likes of Cazorla, Ozil and Podolski tend to drift in as the running fullbacks provide the crosses. Such approach would most likely be adopted on Wednesday and while it would stretch the Bayern side, it could leave them vulnerable to a potential break from the Germans. Most German sides have a swift transition from defence to attack so Arsenal would do well to be aware of this threat when they pump bodies forward. Dortmund’s second goal at the Emirates came from such situation. With Arsenal pushing for a winner, the Blacks and Yellows caught them on the break and it took just three touches to find the back of the net; a pass from Piszczek, a cross by Blaszczykowski and Lewandowski stabbed home the winner.

Bayern V Barcelona

 

 

 

 

 

Close down the Pivot Man: One of the changes Pep has made to this team is playing with one defensive midfielder. Just as his Barca where Busquets was responsible for recycling possession, the person who is now responsible is Lahm. He’s one of the modifications made by the Spaniard and so far it’s been spot on. With the Central defenders drifting wide, it would be best if someone presses him to force a mistake. Lahm is one of the very few consistent footballers but that does not mean he can’t make a mistake.

Lahm

 

 

 

 

Isolate Dante: Bayern are formidable both in their quality on the ball and in their physicality off it, but they aren’t faultless across the pitch. Since Pep Guardiola has switched to a single holding midfielder rather than the midfield pairing Jupp Heynckes preferred last season, the Munich side’s centre-backs have been exposed to one-on-one battles with opposition forwards more often than they used to be, and Dante in particular tends to struggle in those situations. The Brazilian has seen two yellow cards in his last two Champions League outings, and conceded penalties in both games, so if Arsenal can manage to leave him isolated with someone on his neck, then we could be in for a treat.

 WHAT BAYERN MUST DO

  • Go double on Arsenal Fullbacks: Arsenal’s heavy defeats in the English Premier League have come against teams that went double against Sagna and Gibbs/Monreal. Against City, it was Zabaleta and Navas while against Liverpool, Sterling and the SAS caused trouble from the wide areas. This was effective because the Arsenal midfielders especially failed to drop back and help the full backs. Bayern can take advantage of this.

Gotze

 

 

 

 

 

ISOLATE GIROUD: If Bayern can manage to do this, they will reduce the chances of Arsenal scoring and also any meaningful link-up between the midfielders and the Frenchman. The likes of Ozil thrive on space and they love play between the lines and denying them space would limit any quality service to the Frenchman.

POSSIBLE STARTING ELEVEN

ARSENAL (4-2-3-1)

  • GOALKEEPER: SZCZESNY
  • DEFENDERS:SAGNA/MERTESACKER/KOSCIELNY AND GIBBS
  • MIDFIELDERS:WILSHERE/FLAMINI/OXLADE CHAMBERLAIN/OZIL AND CAZORLA
  • FORWARD: GIROUD

BAYERN MUNCHEN (4-1-4-1)

  • GOALKEEPER:NEUER
  • DEFENDERS:RAFINHA/DANTE/BOATENG AND ALABA
  • MIDFIELDERS:LAHM/SCHWEINSTEIGER/THIAGO/MULLER
  •   AND ROBBEN
  • FORWARD: MANDZUKIC

STATS

  • Arsenal’s last success at this stage came in 2010 when they recovered from a 2-1 defeat at FC Porto to win 5-0 in London. That was their third successive victory in the round of 16.
  • This is Bayern’s sixth successive last-16 appearance with the 2011 reverse against FC Internazionale Milano their sole defeat in that run.

Gunners V Die Bayern

 

 

 

 

 

This is Bayern’s fourth visit to England in 12 months and they have been successful on their three previous trips, including victory against Dortmund in May’s final at Wembley.

  • They also met Chelsea FC in the UEFA Super Cup on 30 August in Prague, winning 5-4 on penalties after a 2-2 draw.
  • Bayern’s record away to English teams is W4 D7 L6; overall it is W15 D14 L12. Bayern lifted the European Champion Clubs’ Cup with a 2-0 final triumph against Leeds United AFC in 1975, but have since lost finals to Aston Villa FC (0-1, 1982), Manchester United FC (1-2, 1999) and Chelsea (1-1, 3-4 pens, 2012).
  • As Barcelona coach, Guardiola’s record against Arsenal was W2 D1 L1. His team lost 2-1 in north London in the 2010/11 round of 16 first leg but won the return 3-1.

TEAM TIES

Podolski played for Bayern from 2006 until 2009, scoring 15 goals in 71 league games. Either side of that spell he spent a total of six years with 1. FC Köln, and in ten games against Bayern was only once on the winning side.

Mertesacker scored SV Werder Bremen’s goal in a 3-1 home defeat against Bayern on 29 January 2011. After Robben’s equaliser, the defender’s own goal put Bayern 2-1 in front. During five years in Bremen Mertesacker faced Bayern 16 times, winning only two.

Mertesacker

 

 

 

 

 

Mertesacker and Pizarro were team-mates at Bremen between 2008 and 2011, with Mesut Özil joining them in 2008/09 and 2009/10.

Tomáš Rosický scored 20 goals in 149 Bundesliga games for Dortmund between 2001 and 2006, winning the title in 2001/02.

Mertesacker, Özil and Podolski are national team-mates with Neuer, Boateng, Lahm, Schweinsteiger, Kroos, Müller and Götze.

Robben scored in Chelsea’s 2-0 win at Arsenal on 18 December 2005. In his three years at Stamford Bridge, Robben faced the Gunners on four occasions and never lost.

Ribéry plays for France alongside Sagna, Diaby, Giroud, Koscielny and Flamini.

Müller scored in Germany’s 2-1 win in a Paris friendly against a France team that included Ribéry, Sagna, Koscielny and Giroud. Lahm, Podolski, Mertesacker, Özil and Kroos played for the visitors.

Giroud scored in France’s 2-1 friendly win in Bremen on 29 February 2012 against a Germany team that included Boateng, Kroos, Özil, Müller and Neuer. Ribéry also played for the visitors.

Martínez and Alcántara are Spanish team-mates of Cazorla and Monreal.

Vermaelen and Van Buyten both play for Belgium.

Gnabry was in Stuttgart’s youth team until 2011.

 FIRST LEG PREDICTION: ARSENAL 1 V. BAYERN MUNCHEN 2

TOUCHLINE UI: UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE PREVIEW: MANCHESTER CITY V. BARCELONA

These are the best teams!

The very best teams!!

The main event!!!

After about two months break, Champions League action begins again. The boys have been separated from the men and we are left with sixteen teams with eyes on the Holy Grail come May.  The Round has thrown mouth-watering fixtures; the pick which are Manchester City against Barcelona, and European Champions, Bayern Munchen against Arsenal.

We shall preview the Manchester City vs. Barcelona game. We hope you enjoy it!

City V Barca

The game between the Manchester City and Barcelona can be likened to a clash between a newcomer and a veteran. Manchester City would be making her first appearance at this stage of the competition while their more illustrious opponents have won this tournament four times, three in the last seven years.

Manchester City has been scoring goals for fun this season with a total of 113 in all competitions. In Aguero, City has one of the world’s most in-form strikers. Yaya Toure, a former Barca player has exploded offensively since moving to England. This season, He has scored 7 of his 8 set-pieces; 4 out of 5 free-kicks and has converted all 3 of his penalties. The Defence might not been the strongest in this City side but there are few who can equal the defensive abilities of Skipper, Vincent Kompany.

Man City

For the Catalan Giants, they might not be the force they were under Guardiola but they can still hold their own against the World’s finest. Valdes is one of the most underrated players in this team but his shot-stopping abilities are equal to none. He is also adept in the one-on-one situation. Piqué, despite his occasional error is still one of the best in his position. In the midfield, a certain Andres Iniesta is the creative cog of this team. Neymar, Sanchez and Pedro have been beneficiaries of the direct play introduced by Tata  and lest we forget, King Lionel Messi ,who, despite all the injuries is still one of the finest if not the finest on his day. His haul of five goals in his last three games suggests the Argentine has found his mojo.

Barcelona

LEAGUE POSITION

  • Manchester City: P25 W17 D3 L5(3rd)- BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
  • Barcelona: P24 W19 D3 L2 (1st)- SPANISH PRIMERA LIGA

WEEKEND ENGAGEMENTS

  • Manchester City

There was no Premier League action this weekend as the FA CUP took centre stage. Manchester City zoomed into the Quarter-Finals of the World’s oldest Cup Competition by easing past a lacklaustre Chelsea side 2-0 to gain some form of revenge for the loss at the Etihad.

Stevan Jovetic

Barcelona

The Catalan Giants prepare for their trip to Manchester with a comprehensive and flawless 6-0 victory over a sorry-looking Rayo Vallecano to move back to the top of the log.

Barcelona

STORY SO FAR

Manchester City

The Eastland side was in Group D alongside European Champions, Bayern Munchen, Russian Champions, CSKA Moscow and Czech side, Viktoria Plzen. The Citizens garnered 15 points out of a possible 18 with the sole defeat at home to the Bavarian Giants. It marked the first time Manchester City advanced past the Group Stage after two previous failed attempts.

Man City

The Citizens recorded impressive 5-2 and 4-2 home victories over CSKA and Plzen though they slumped to a disappointing 1-3 defeat at the Etihad. They scored 10 goals and let in 7 at the Etihad.

Group Record

  • P 6 W 5 D 0 L 1 GF 18 GA 10 GD +8 PTS 15

Barcelona

It was a Group of Champions for the Blaugrana in Group H with AC Milan, Ajax and Scottish Giants, Celtic their Group opponents. Barcelona as expected topped the Group with but with just 13 points as the likes of AC Milan and Ajax providing little or no competition. Their 6-1 win over the Glasgow Giants in Match day Six is still their most impressive performance till date.

Barcelona

Away from the Nou Camp, their record was a victory at Celtic, a draw at San Siro and a defeat at Amsterdam (their solitary loss). They scored 3 goals and conceded 3 away from home.

Group Record

  • P6 W4 D1 L1 GF 16 GA 5 GD +11 PTS 13

TEAM NEWS

Manchester City

  • Sergio Aguero faces a race to be fit for the Tuesday clash as he still battles with the hamstring injury he picked up in the 5-1 win at White Hart Lane.
  • Fernandinho is another who is racing against time to be fit for the mouth-watering tie.
  • James Milner is suspended for the Battle at Etihad after picking up his third yellow card.
  • Samir Nasri, Javi Garcia and Jack Rodwell have recovered from their physical problems with the Frenchman playing and scoring In the FA CUP victory over Chelsea.

Man City V Barcelona

Barcelona

  • Carles Puyol and Neymar made their return from the sidelines in the 6-0 demolition of Rayo with the latter scoring an outstanding goal.
  • Jonathan Dos Santos would however miss the game as he recovers from a cruciate ligament injury.

THE MANAGERS AND EUROPE

  • Manuel Pellegrini (MANCHESTER CITY)

Manuel Pellegrini

He is not new to European Football. He led the Yellow Submarines of Villarreal to the Semi-Finals in 2006 where they lost out 0-1 to Arsenal. In the 2012/2013 season, his Malaga side was seconds away from knocking Dortmund and advancing to the Semi-Finals. He’s also played Barcelona several times during his spells as coach of Villarreal, Real Madrid and Malaga.

  • GERARDO MARTINO (BARCELONA)

Tata Martino

He is relatively inexperienced in Europe as his previous teams have been South American. Unlike his predecessors who were strict adherents of the tiki-taka football, he’s brought the direct football to Nou Camp thus serving as a Plan B against teams who would park-the bus. He is yet to face any real test but so far has come out unscathed in his European adventure.

WHAT MANCHESTER CITY MUST DO

  • Expose the Central Defence: For all of Barca’s strength in attack, her Achilles heel is the central defence; Carles Puyol is a fading force and has spent more time at the treatment table than on the pitch, Pique the best defender in the Catalan setup is prone to error and loss of concentration, Bartra for all his improvement is still untested and doesn’t look ready for the big games. Manchester City would have to capitalize on any lapses in Barcelona defense. With the way they’ve been banging in goals, one would fancy them to do so. Aguero who has 6 goals in this competition will be a huge loss  but Jovetic has looked in recent games especially against Chelsea the player we all saw at Fiorentina .The Montenegrin alongside Negredo and Dzeko should shoulder  the goal-scoring responsibilities.
  • Take Advantage of Set-Pieces: Barcelona is not a team known for height. The likes of Xavi, Iniesta and Messi will not be anyone’s picking to man-mark for a corner. Chelsea and Bayern Munchen have taken full advantage in recent seasons and Valencia also exposed the flaw in their shock 3-2 win at the Camp Nou. City with the likes of Kompany, Yaya Toure, Alvaro Negredo and Edin Dzeko would relish the opportunity to attack a set piece.

Man City Players

Press-Press and Press: The likes of Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets are no doubt one of the best on the ball and it would be disastrous for City to allow them get into their rhythm. They are dangerous when allowed to dictate the play. What City has to do is hassle them off the ball. Xavi in particular has been on the decline in the last two years and would be a target.  This side is not known for its physicality and tends to suffer against the physical sides. Chelsea did it in 2012, Bayern did it emphatically last season and Atletico Madrid has done it three times this season. City would have to replicate what they did against Hazard, Matic and Mikel on Saturday. Toure and Javi Garcia come to mind in this regard.

  • Don’t Focus On Messi Alone: I am not suggesting that they should not pay attention to the Argentine as that would be foolish. However, they should not focus on him alone as Barca now has a rejuvenated Alexis and of course, heir-apparent, Neymar.

Lionel Messi

Stop Busquets: Someone might ask why? Busquets might not be the most fanciful player in this team as his work is often underrated. He is responsible for winning the ball and is one of the best when it comes to positioning and screening the defence behind. What most people don’t however know is that he is the one who starts everything. Busquets most times drops back to receive the short kick from Valdes with the Central Defenders drifting out wide and the full backs forming auxiliary wing-backs. What City has to do is to press him immediately he gets the ball as there is a chance he’ll make a mistake which would leave Barca short at the back. It is for this purpose I’ll pick Jovetic over Dzeko.

  • Solve the Defensive Troubles: The Sky Blues have let in 7 goals in three Champions League Games. That says a lot about City’s troubles at the back. Against Barcelona, City can’t afford such generosity as the likes of Pedro, Sanchez, and Neymar and of course Messi would need no second invitation to pounce on any defensive blunders. They can’t afford to have any Joe Hart Scandal or Demichelis Marathon. They have to stay compact and try not to concede any away goal in order to have any hope of winning this game and possibly the tie.

Lescott

WHAT BARCELONA SHOULD DO

  • Expose The Defence: City might possess a fearsome attacking threat but they are no angels at the other side. Barcelona should take a cue from Chelsea’s win at Etihad and see the way the Blues tore them to pieces defensively. In Neymar, Alexis, Cesc Iniesta, Xavi, Pedro and of course Messi, the Catalan Giants have what it takes to unlock the defence and make for an interesting second leg. The Citizens have conceded 7 goals at home and with Barca’s attacking threat, they’ll feel they have what it takes to go back to Camp Nou with an away goal.

Barcelona

Expose the Flanks: City as we know love to attack with their fullbacks. Except Manuel comes up with a different strategy, it is most likely the same way they will play. Barca have this season played with width, they play less through the middle. They play through both flanks with Neymar, Pedro or Alexis running at the defence to provide pin-point deliveries into the box. If City as expected plays with Zabaleta and Kolarov/Clichy pushing up, then the wide players of the Blaugrana would hurt them on the break.

  • Expose the Left: David Silva barring any unforeseen circumstances would start on Tuesday. While there is no doubt that he’s an excellent ball-player, his ball-winning and tracking back abilities leave a lot to be desired. Navas would provide cover for Zabaleta on the right; the left could be a Dani Alves/Sanchez VS. Kolarov/ Clichy battle. The Spanish Giants would have watched clips of Chelsea’s game and saw the way Kolarov was run at by the likes of Ivanovic, Ramires and Willian.

POSSIBLE STARTING ELEVEN

Manchester City: 4-4-2

  • Goalkeeper: Joe Hart
  • Defenders: Pablo Zabaleta/ Vincent Kompany/Martin Demichelis and Alexander Kolarov
  • Midfielders: Jesus Navas/Yaya Toure/Javi Garcia and David Silva
  • Forwards: Alvaro Negredo and Stevan Jovetic

Barcelona: 4-3-3

  • Goalkeeper: Victor Valdes
  • Defenders: Dani Alves/Gerard Pique/ Carles Puyol and Jordi Alba
  • Midfielders: Cesc Fabregas/Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta
  • Forwards: Alexis Sanchez/Lionel Messi and Neymar

RESULTS VERSUS CLUBS FROM OPPONENTS’ COUNTRY

Man City: P 9 W 3 D 3 L 3 GF18 GA 15

Barcelona: P 60 W 24 D 19 L 17 GF 98 GA 73

PREDICTION

This is one of the games where fans would expect to see lots of goals as they both carry great attacking threats and defensive frailties.

I will go for a 3-2 victory to Manchester City at the Etihad.

Neymar

Watch Out For the Arsenal V. Bayern Munchen Preview tomorrow!

Arsenal V Bayern

 

 

TOUCHLINE UI: BATTLE AT THE ETIHAD:MANCHESTER CITY VS CHELSEA PREVIEW

 INTRODUCTION

Welcome to Monday Night Football! It’s the biggest game in this round of Premier League action.  It sees Jose Mourinho bring his Chelsea with the tightest defence (20 goals) to the home ground of the Free-scoring (68 league goals) League Leaders, Manchester City.

Man City V Chelsea

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Citizens have been scintillating at the Etihad; they are yet to drop points at home and have outscored their unfortunate visitors by 42-8 goal margin. They have scored more goals at home than the home and away haul of every team bar Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool. Their 5-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur was the 14th  time the Citizens have put their opponents to the sword by scoring 4 or more goals. In games between the top seven top sides in the League, The Sky Blues have taken 18 points out of a possible 21(the sole defeat at Chelsea).

Aguero celebrates the equaliser in the 2-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge

 

 

 

 

 

For Jose Mourinho side; they went undefeated in January (conceding just a goal), have conceded the least number of goals (20) with 9 clean sheets. In their last eight league games, only Crystal Palace, Liverpool and Manchester United found the back of Petr Cech’s net. The Pensioners have taken 12 points from a possible 21 in games against the current top seven sides;3 wins against Manchester City, Liverpool and recently against the Red Devils, draws away to Tottenham, Arsenal and United with the sole defeat at Everton. The Blues are currently undefeated in their last eight games.

The game at Stamford Bridge earlier this season ended in favor of the Blues from London no thanks to a howler from Joe Hart which allowed Fernando Torres steal a late winner.

Torres celebrates the winner at Stamford Bridge

 

 

 

 

 

Second half goals from Yaya Toure and a customary one from now Juventus Striker, Carlos Tevez helped Man City to a 2-0 win over Chelsea in the corresponding fixture last season.

For the record, Chelsea has not won at Etihad since 2008(2-1) and the 2-1 win on October 27, 2013 was the Blues first over City since 2011.

  LEAGUE POSITION

Manchester City:1st(53points)17-2-4(W-D-L)

Chelsea 3rd (50points) 15-5-3 (W-D-L)

FORM

Manchester City: WWWWWW

Chelsea: WWWWWD

TOP SCORERS (LEAGUE)

Man City: Sergio Aguero (15)

Chelsea: Eden Hazard (9)

TEAM NEWS

Manchester City

v  Sergio Aguero picked up a hamstring injury in the 5-1 win at White Hart Lane and would be out for up to a month. He’ll no doubt be a loss as he has the ability to play on the defender, drop into the “hole” and pick out spaces in the tightest of areas and let’s not forget, he’s been prolific (15 league goals).His loss should however be compensated as the likes of Yaya Toure (12), Negredo (12), Dzeko (7) should shoulder the goal-scoring responsibilities.

v  Others to miss this big game are Samir Nasri(Knee,21 Feb),Javi Garcia(Muscle, Feb 8) and James Milner(groin) who is doubtful

v  There is no one suspended

Chelsea

v  Torres would sit out of this game as he recovers from a knee injury which was picked up in the 3-1 win over United. For a striker with 4 league goals in six months of action, his absence should not be felt. Van Ginkel is a long term absentee; he’s been out with a knee injury with full recovery set for April.

v  New signing Salah has trained with his teammates but this game might soon for the Egyptian who is short of match fitness. The Special One hinted that he might not play a full part in a Press Conference on Friday.

v  There are no suspended players

MANAGERS AND THEIR TACTICS

MANUEL PELLEGRINI (MANCHESTER CITY)

Manuel Pellegrini

 

 

 

 

 

The Chilean is a disciple of expansive, attacking and direct football. His footballing philosophies have no doubt been evident in his City team as they’ve scored 68 goals in the League (35 away from breaking the record of 103 set by Chelsea in the 2009/10 season) and 111 in all competitions. He’s favored attacking regardless of the opposition and ground. The only time he went cautious was against Chelsea earlier in the season when he dropped Negredo and played Toure as an attacking midfielder which didn’t pay off.

He’s used the 4-4-2 formation in his spell at the Eastland to full effect with Navas providing the width and Silva the orchestrator of the team band. The 4-4-2 changes to 4-2-3-1 off the ball with Kun dropping into the ‘hole’ to wreak havoc with his mazy runs and interchange of play.

With Aguero set to miss tomorrow’s game, expect him to go with a 4-4-2 formation with Bosnian forward, Dzeko and Negredo up front.

JOSE MOURINHO (CHELSEA)

What more can I say about the Special, Only, Happy and recently Sad One? He’s an astute tactician and a brilliant reader of the game

Jose Mourinho

 

 

 

 

 

He’s used the 4-2-3-1 in his second spell at the Bridge though in games against Norwich, Cardiff and Southampton, he switched to the 3-3-2-2 and 4-4-2 respectively.

His tactics in the big games have been win the home games and not lose the away; Against United at Old Trafford, He started the game with no recognized Forward, against Arsenal a defensive 4-3-3 formation and circumstances (Torres red card) forced him to defend against Spurs. It remains to be seen whether he goes with a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-3 in tomorrow’s game. It’s because of Him most Chelsea fans feel they’ll get something out of the game.

It would also be interesting to see what approach he adopts against the menacing Citizens. He complained about West Ham’s “19th Century Football Style” in the stalemate at the Bridge so going similar against City would look hypocritical. Knowing Jose, he won’t budge and probably already has an answer for the Press if he adopts a “17th Century Style” tomorrow. Whatever approach he adopts, it’s going to be stern test of his team’s strength and title credentials.

POSSIBLE STARTING ELEVEN

MANCHESTER CITY 4-4-2

GOALKEEPER: JOE HART

DEFENDERS: PABLO ZABALETA, VINCENT KOMPANY, MARTIN DEMICHELIS AND GAEL CLICHY

MIDFIELDERS: JESUS NAVAS,FERNANDINHO,YAYA TOURE AND DAVID SILVA

FORWARDS: EDIN DZEKO AND ALVARO NEGREDO

CHELSEA 4-3-3

GOALKEEPER:PETR CECH

DEFENDERS:BRANISLAV IVANOVIC, GARY CAHILL, JOHN TERRY AND CESAR AZPILICUETA

MIDFIELDERS: RAMIRES, NEMANJA MATIC AND JOHN OBI MIKEL

FORWARDS :WILLIAN,ETO’O AND EDEN HAZARD

WHAT MANCHESTER CITY MUST DO

Man City Players

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE BIG BOYS MUST SHOW UP: At Stamford Bridge, the likes of Yaya Toure, Fernandinho, Nasri and of course Hart all went missing with Aguero the only one who emerged out of the game with any real credit. This time around, in front of their fans, the big guys must rise up to the occasion. They can’t afford to repeat the lacklustre performances they showed against Crystal Palace and Watford. The Chelsea guys would most likely rise to the occasion, it’s now up to the boys from Manchester to do the same.

PLAY TO THE STRENGTH OF DZEKO AND NEGREDO: There won’t be Aguero who can drop back and play between the lines and neither Dzeko nor Negredo can particularly do that .They are not also the fastest forwards and would not test the Chelsea defence that is not known for pace, except someone plays closer to them. I expect Silva to take up that role as he’s got an owl eye that can spot a space even in the dark. Playing closer to the City Strikers means Terry and Co would have to drop back thanks to their lack of pace. Failure to do that and the Chelsea defence would have to push up to try playing them offside.

Man City

 

 

 

 

 

STAY PATIENT: Unlike previous games where they blitzed past opponents, they’ll probably find it hard to get the goals rolling in the early moments. It’s up to them to stay patient and not play into the counter-attacking threat of Mourinho’s Chelsea.

TRY NOT TO CONCEDE FIRST: Chelsea would most probably come with their version of 19th century football except Mourinho goes otherwise. He would set up a counter attacking team so it would be important the Citizens don’t concede first as the Blues could park-the-bus. Conceding first means they’ll have to push up which could play into the hands of a counter-attacking Chelsea side. Also, City is a side that has the likes of Zabaleta and Clichy/Kolarov pushing up to provide width.Whlie it’s expected that they have a go at Chelsea, they have to be aware of pushing too high as they could be caught out on the break by the likes of Hazard, Oscar and Willian.

ONE GOAL WON’T WIN IT: If City were to score first, that won’t be a guarantee of victory as Chelsea this season have recovered 14 points from losing position(The Best in the Premier League).Mourinho’s teams are not known for going down without a fight.

PLEASE NO BACK PASS: If a City defender is in an awkward position, it would be best if he clears into touch rather than attempt an unfortunate back pass to Hart. Experience they say is the best teacher. Also for no reason should Joe Hart waste time on his kicks as a certain Samuel Eto’o could be lurking around.

Chelsea V Manchester City

 

 

 

 

 

WHAT CHELSEA MUST DO

EXPLOIT THE FRAILTIES IN MAN CITY DEFENCE: City no doubt possesses a fearsome attacking threat. However, they look susceptible at the back. Demichelis has lost pace and would lose a 20 meter race against Mikel not to talk of Hazard. Chelsea has the talent to expose the deficiencies. The thought of Hazard, Willian and Oscar running at the Argentine would set the hearts of the Citizen faithful racing.

UTILIZE YOUR OPPORTUNITIES: Chelsea had 39 shots (including blocked) against West Ham with none finding the back of the net. Such form of kind gesture won’t be reciprocated by Man City. They’ll get their chance s in bits and they have to convert the ones that come their way. Against United, three shots resulted in three goals. Such ruthlessness in front of goal is necessary to mitigate the onslaught from the City Army.

Oscar of Chelsea

 

 

 

 

 

EXPLOIT THE FLANKS: The City full-backs are renowned for pushing forward to join the attack and create width. Against the Blues of London, they’ll most likely do the same. It’s now for the Chelsea attack to exploit the gaps left behind and stretch the defence. Bayern did it and there’s no reason why Chelsea can’t do same.

Man City Players

 

 

 

 

 

STAY TIGHT AND COMPACT

Mourinho would ring this into their ears “stay tight and compact and limit the spaces, try not conceding first”. Getting into the tunnel at the break goalless or a goal up would most likely create a nervous atmosphere at Etihad and could have impact on the players’ performance. It is vital Chelsea don’t concede first. They will have to play as a unit and whoever gets to play on the left side of the attacking-midfield (most likely Hazard) would have to fall back to neutralize the attacking threat of Navas and Zabaleta down the right.

SIGNIFICANCE OF THE GAME

v  A win for the Sky Blues would send them to the top of the log if Arsenal as expected sees off an improving Crystal Palace on Sunday.

v  A loss or draw depending on the Arsenal game would leave them either first or second.

v  For Chelsea, the draw against the Hammers at the Bridge has made this game more significant to their title challenge.

v  A win for the Blues would send them second if Arsenal slips up at home to Crystal Palace

v  A draw would leave them 3 points behind the Citizens and 5 points behind the Gunners (should they prevail). A loss could be calamitous as it would leave Mou’s team 6points behind the Blue of Manchester and 5 points behind London rivals, Arsenal (should they win).

Hazard and Silva vie for the ball at Stamford Bridge

 

 

 

 

 

INTERESTED PARTIES

v  A win for Arsenal would send them back to the top and they could remain there if the game at Etihad ends in a draw

v  Should Liverpool win at struggling West Brom, the Anfield side would close the gap on Chelsea to a single point.

KEY STATS

v  Man City is yet to lose any league game played on Monday. However, the last time they lost on Monday, it was against Chelsea in 2007.

v  Chelsea has kept 3 clean sheets in a row away from home in the Premier League.

v  Chelsea have lost their last 4 Premier League visits to the Etihad but no team has won more games away at Man City(10)

Fernando Torres

 

 

 

 

 

 

v  Alvaro Negredo has scored 16 goals in his last 13 competitive appearance for the Citizens at the Etihad

v  Man City has scored at least 2 goals in 11 of their 12 home matches in the Premier League

v  The Blues have won 11 of the 13 league games in which they have opened the scoring.

v  Since the International break in November, the Blues have won 29 points from a possible 36. Only City has had more over that period with 34.

v  Chelsea has scored at least 2 goals in 5 of their 6 away matches in the Premier League.

v  Man City has scored at least a goal in their last 61 home Premier League matches, stretching over 3 years. Birmingham was the last side to come away with a clean slate. That was in November, 2010

Samir Nasri

 

 

 

 

 

 

PREDICTION

MANCHESTER CITY 2 V CHELSEA 1

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