by Tom Allen
Hard to fault Chelsea's magnificent start to the new campaign but they have
yet to be even moderately tested so far and Saturday will be an altogether
Comprehensive wins over West Brom, Wigan, Stoke, West Ham and Blackpool in
the first six weeks of the season were all expected but it has been the manor of
Chelsea's victories that have caught the eye and they've conceded just one goal
in that period.
Scoring 21 times in their opening five matches, too has given the Blues'
title rivals clear warning of their intentions this season and if the rest
aren't careful then Chelsea could soon be out of sight.
Carlo Ancelotti's men won't have it all their own way at Eastlands however
and the West London club then face Arsenal next Sunday.
Chelsea, seven points clear already of Saturday's hosts, who currently fill
fourth spot, fielded a weakened side in a shock midweek Carling Cup defeat to
Newcastle at Stamford Bridge but the damage could be more permanent than simply
exiting at the hands of the Magpies.
Muscular injuries to both Yossi Banayoun and Salomon Kalou sustained on
Wednesday night look set to keep that pair on the sidelines this Saturday and,
while they've firepower elsewhere to cause the home team problems, Frank Lampard
is also set to miss out once more.
The side from the capital take on a Manchester City team with their own
fitness concerns, Micah Richards is manager Roberto Mancini's main worry, but
they've such strength in depth that even were Gareth Barry required to fill in
at left-back then I'd still fancy their chances of getting something from the
game and Chelsea look plenty short enough to me.
Despite landing the Premier League and FA Cup double last term, Chelsea were
beaten both home and away by Saturday's opponents and in Carlos Tevez face a
striker right at the top of his game. The Argentine, a controversial signing
from fierce rivals Manchester United, has a terrific 24 goals in his last 28 top
flight matches and also boasts recent success against the league leaders.
Tevez was instrumental in City's comfortably 2-0 win at Wigan last Sunday,
scoring the opening goal, which produced a tidy profit for this particular
column and there's little doubt he'll need to be firing once again if his team
are to be victorious.
While City have won just three of their previous 10 Premier League matches,
they've experienced a tough run of fixtures and it was hard not to be impressed
with the way they dispatched Liverpool in August. The hosts rarely fail to give
their true running against the former 'Big Four' and defeat on the weekend would
come as a shock.
Chelsea will have their supporters at
Ladbrokes' best price 6/5 but it is certainly not for me, in a game they'd
be happy to gain a point, and instead
Extrabet's 8/11 about the other two outcomes looks more than fair.
Unlike seven days ago, where there appeared plenty of decent Premier League
wagers, this weekend looks difficult to solve but Tottenham Hotspur, with the
Champions League looming, look plenty short enough at 11/10 with VC Bet to win
at Upton Park and nobody in their right mind could be backing Liverpool, either,
at the odds on offer.
Roy Hodgson's men, so humiliated at Anfield in defeat to Northampton Town on
Wednesday, entertain Sunderland but Paddy Power's 2/5 about them getting back on
track with three points is laughable and Steve Bruce's men just might be able to
frustrate the hosts.
1pt Back Man City-Draw (Double Result, vs. Chelsea) @ 8/11 (Extrabet)
or 4/6 (Bet65)