Mikel (left) and Chelsea are hot on the heels of Man City’S Carlos Tevez in the race for second
Manchester City will be looking to reignite their title challenge rather than focusing on preserving second spot when Chelsea visit the Etihad Stadium Sunday. The reigning champions’ defence of their Premier League title has faltered in recent weeks and a run of three games without a win has seen City slip 12 points behind Manchester United. That lead has been increased to 15 points following United’s victory over QPR Saturday.
Roberto Mancini was extremely critical of his players after the 3-1 defeat at Southampton in their last league game and he saw a positive response in the 4-0 victory over Leeds United in the FA Cup last weekend to maintain an impressive home record.
Only leaders United have won at the Etihad in the league this season and City have won the last three home games against Chelsea. However, Chelsea had won nine of their previous 10 visits to City and another victory today would see Rafa Benitez’s side move to within a point of second place.
Chelsea also have the second best away record in the top flight this season and Benitez will be hoping to build on reaching the fifth round of the FA Cup and last 16 of the Europa League in the past week.
A late surge for the title appears to be beyond Chelsea, but overhauling City for second is within reach and there is likely to be little to separate the teams Sunday.
Meanwhile, Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech has backed misfiring striker Fernando Torres to score as long as he keeps getting chances. Torres endured another difficult evening in front of goal in Thursday night’s Europa League tie with Sparta Prague, wasting a host of good chances. But Cech believes his team-mate has just been unlucky and praised the Spaniard’s positional play.
“The worrying thing would be if he never had chances,” said Cech, quoted in the Daily Mirror.
“If you want the strikers to have a chance to score he has to create for himself or find himself in a situation to get a chance. He is getting there.
“You can see he is always getting into a situation to finish, like his one-on-one or the chance during the first half.
“His timing and positioning in the box was good in the first half but unfortunately he didn’t put the ball in the back of the net. That is unlucky but, as long as he gets into the box, the goal will arrive.
“Everyone tries to support everyone in the team. We need everyone to play well and feel well to perform to help the team. We try to help each other and win games.”