Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho will glance at the Premier League table today and then consider the prospect of facing the nearest challengers to his team when Manchester City visit Stamford Bridge in two weeks for a crucial fixture between the top two teams in the league. City are currently five points adrift of leaders Chelsea and a defeat in London would raise question marks as to their ability to defend their title especially after the teams experienced contrasting fortunes at the weekend.
Four goals scored during the first half underlined Chelsea’s dominance at Swansea on Saturday during a 5-0 victory but they were aided by some dismal home defending and the Swans could have trailed by a much greater margin at the interval. In affording both Oscar and Diego Costa such a vast amount of space in and around the penalty, the Swansea players were inviting trouble and they were fortunate that Mourinho decided to ease the pressure in the second half with more challenging games ahead for his Chelsea team in the forthcoming weeks.
The comprehensive victory against Swansea applied further pressure on Manchester City as they hosted Arsenal a day later and they could ill-afford to end an unbeaten Premier League sequence dating back to October. However, City have produced some average performances at the Etihad Stadium in recent weeks with a 2-2 home draw against Burnley followed by a narrow 3-2 success when defeating Sunderland with a 2-1 FA Cup tie win against Sheffield Wednesday achieved after conceding the opening goal.
Although City have signed striker Wilfried Bony from Swansea in an attempt to solve their lack of resources in attack, he will not be available to play until he returns from the African Nations Cup tournament. In his absence, manager Manuel Pellegrini was forced to field a far from fit Sergio Aguero in attack against Arsenal with Stevan Jovetic and Edin Dzeko confined to used substitutes roles. As Yaya Toure is also competing in Africa with the Cote d’Ivoire squad, Manchester City appeared lightweight in their efforts to breach the visiting reargaurd with David Silva offering the only significant midfield threat.
The 2-0 defeat incurred by City owed as much to their failings as to the excellent display by Arsenal both in defence and via an inventive midfield. A converted penalty by Santi Cazorla and a headed goal by Olivier Giroud enabled the Gunners to secure a much deserved victory and leave City with several headaches ahead of their visit to Chelsea.
The FA Cup takes centre stage in England next weekend allowing Aguero to hone his match fitness before the crucial match in London. City cannot afford to lose that match but they will need to improve upon recent showings to offer any hope of beating a Chelsea team which has won every Premier League match at Stamford Bridge this season.
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