Jose Mourinho has attempted to play down the importance of Chelsea’s clash with Manchester City at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. The two sides were favorites to claim the Premier League title at the start of the season and currently sit second and fourth in the table, with Chelsea a single point better off. Mourinho, though, believes it is too early to think that the match has extra significance.
“I just play every game the same way, and we prepare every game the same way: we want to win,” he said, according the Chelsea’s official website. “In this moment, with the way the Premier League is going week after week, no result will put a team in a great situation and no result will put a team in a difficult situation.
“Every weekend somebody will lose points. Some weekends more than one of the top teams will lose points. The league is hard so at this stage, mid-October, one game is not going to be crucial.”
Chelsea have won their last four matches in all competitions, scoring 14 goals in the process. A big part of that form has been the improved form of their strikers. Samuel Eto’o got his first goal for the club in a 4-1 win over Cardiff City last weekend, while Fernando Torres scored twice on his return to the starting lineup after injury in the 3-0 win over Schalke. Mourinho, though, says he has always been happy with their contribution.
“I'm happy with all of the strikers,” he explained. “They were not scoring goals but they were working really hard. They were doing a good job for the team and for their team-mates. There are different ways of contributing for the team than just scoring goals, and all three always did that. It was a positive week for Torres and Eto'o because they scored goals and that is what gives them the greatest happiness.”
Manchester City have also benefited from in-form strikers of late. In Alvaro Negredo and Sergio Aguero, Manuel Pellegrini appears to have found his favored partnership and the Argentinean has fired five goals in his last three appearances. Pellegrini hailed Aguero’s talent, but suggested he believes there is more to come.
“He’s a top player and I am always talking to Sergio because for me he is one of the top five players in the world,” he said, according to Manchester City’s official website. “He must try and demonstrate that in every game and work very hard, especially when we don’t have the ball.
“He is a very important player for us. He has been an important player in the past and we hope in the future he will continue to be a very important player.”
Aguero struck twice in City’s 2-1 win at CSKA Moscow in midweek, a match that was marred by alleged racist chants directed at Yaya Toure. Pellegrini is standing behind the Ivorian’s outspoken stance.
“I spoke with Yaya and he is OK,” he said. “I think he did the right thing after what happened and now we will see what UEFA will do about that.”
Pellegrini revealed that captain Vincent Kompany will again miss out with a thigh injury. Jack Rodwell will return to contention, however.
There is better news for Chelsea with Ashley Cole fit to return after a three-week absence with a rib injury. The only absentee for Mourinho is long-term injury victim Marco van Ginkel.
D: Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Cole
M: Ramires, Lampard
Schurrle, Oscar, Hazard
Manchester City (probable)
D: Zabaleta, Garcia, Nastasic, Kolarov
M: Fernandinho, Toure
Navas, Aguero, Silva
Where to watch: The Barclays Premier League Match will kick off at noon ET. Coverage will be provided by the NBC Sports Network, with a live stream available on NBC Sports Live Extra.