Venue: Villa Park Date: Sunday, 12 August Kick-off: 13:30 BST
Newly crowned Premier League Champions Manchester City take on European Champions and FA Cup Holders Chelsea in the curtain raiser for the new season this Sunday.
City found themselves in this same position a year ago, when they faced Manchester United. They led 2-0 at half time only to blow their lead to eventually lose 3-2, and they will be hoping for a better performance this time as they look to send out a statement of intent to those hoping to wrestle their title from them.
Chelsea meanwhile will consider victory over City a notable feather in their caps. They know a win over the champions will show they mean business this season as they look to improve on last season’s less than acceptable 6th placed finish.
Manager Roberto di Matteo has wasted no time in improving the squad that languished so badly last season.
Didier Drogba is gone, as is Jose Bosingwa and Soloman Kalou. The signing of Eden Hazard from Lille is seen as an exciting one, snatching him from under the noses of their opponents this weekend in the process.
City have three injury concerns ahead of the new season.
Micah Richards and Gareth Barry definitely miss out. Richards injured his ankle during Great Britain’s defeat to South Korea in the Quarter Finals of the Olympic Men’s Football, whilst Barry still hasn’t recovered from the groin injury which ruled him out of this summer’s European Championships.
Team Captain Vincent Kompany had to pull out of the squads pre-season tour of the Far East with a calf complaint, and may have to settle for a place on the bench.
Chelsea’s only injury concern meanwhile is new signing Marko Marin – a summer capture from Werder Bremen. A hamstring injury means he will have to wait at least one more week before showing Chelsea fan’s what he is capable of.
Another of their new signings, Oscar, will also miss out as he will be looking to win Gold with Brazil on Saturday as they take of Mexico in the Olympic Men’s Football Final.
With Drogba gone, Sturridge still inexperienced, and Hazard in need of bedding in, a lot of the pressure will fall squarely on the shoulders of Torres to perform in the big games this season. The Spaniard will be looking to build on a successful summer of football after winning the Euro’s and will be hoping to put last season’s poor goal tally of seven in forty six appearances behind him.
Head to Head
Chelsea handed Man City their first defeat of the 2011/12 season with a 2-1 win at Stamford Bridge on 13th December.
Man City took revenge however by crucially defeating their rivals in a reverse of that match, prevailing 2-1 themselves at the Etihad on their road to the title.
Though honours are even as far as head to head is concerned last season, the two side’s recent run of form couldn’t be more different.
Of their last six competitive matches, Chelsea have won only three times, losing twice and drawing once.
City have won all six of their last six competitive matches.
Chelsea: Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Cole; Mikel; Ramires, Lampard, Meireles, Hazard; Torres.
Man City: Hart; Zabaleta, K Toure, Lescott, Kolarov; Y Toure, De Jong; A Johnson, Tevez, Nasri; Aguero.