Chelsea vs. Manchester City (16:00)
After a stunning start Chelsea have struggled in recent games, and a tough game against the in-form champions may well be a baptism of fire should a new manager be in place by Saturday:
– Only four players have recorded more than five assists so far in the Premier League season, and two of them are based at Stamford Bridge. Eden Hazard leads the way with nine while his Spanish teammate Juan Mata is close behind on six. It’s no wonder as both are in the top ten for passes completed in the opposition half, with Hazard ranked fifth after completing 379 passes in enemy territory and Mata ninth with 351
– Mata’s deadly range of passing is also evident in that he is 8th in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for crosses delivered with 30. Steven Gerrard and Leighton Baines are the only top other players to appear in the top ten for both passes and crosses.
– Chelsea are reportedly considering a loan move to bring Dider Drogba back to Stamford Bridge. Juan Mata and Fernando Torres are Chelsea’s joint top scorers this season with four goals a piece. Torres has had 19 efforts at goal for his four goals, with 74% on target, while Mata has had 21 with 62% on target.
– With Lampard, Hazard, and Ivanovic all also on three goals Chelsea have one of the top scoring overall squads in the top flight, but clearly feel they are missing the goal scoring presence of a Suarez, van Persie, or Tevez that their top four rivals have
– Based purely on the last four rounds of fixtures, Chelsea would be nineteenth with just two points from a possible twelve- a defeat against the champions on Sunday would be a severe blow to the Blues’ title chances, leaving them seven points adrift.
Speculation over the future of Roberto Mancini seems a little harsh on the Italian given the relentless league form of Manchester City. The champions are unbeaten and top the table for the first time since May’s dramatic final day of action. Next up, Stamford Bridge:
– Statistically, City have been the league’s outstanding passing side. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index will frighten Chelsea, as it shows two of the top ten passers in the league are City players Yaya Toure, who is top having completed 536 passes in the opposition half, and Samir Nasri who is 8th with 361 passes
– City also have a wealth of talent in the area that Chelsea so sorely need – the lethal goal scoring striker. Tevez and Dzeko each have six goals to their name this season while Aguero has 5, all in the league’s top 12 goal scorers. City’s goal scorers talent lies in their ruthlessness in converting the chances that come to them. Dzeko has needed just 23 shots at goal for his six goals, 3.8 shots per goal, and Aguero 24 shots for 5 goals, averaging 4.8 shots per goal.
– All three also boast shooting accuracy percentages of more than 50%, with Dzeko on 60.8%, Aguero 62.5% and Tevez 60%.
– Despite recent turmoil at Stamford Bridge, City will find it tough playing there based on their away record this season. With a superb eighteen goals and six wins in seven home games, just seven strikes and two wins from five on the road is made to look patchy- top of the table for the first time this season, a win here could launch City towards a second league title.