Manchester City vs Chelsea preview: Jose Mourinho and Manuel Pellegrini renew rivalry at the Etihad

ANALYSIS

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The Independent Online

HOW HAS THE BUILD-UP PLAYED OUT?

Normally there is plenty of hype surrounding such blockbusters, even this early in the season, but this one has been more of a slow-burner.

It has taken time for talk to switch to the game, with build-up throughout the week increasingly dominated by stories about Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho's extraordinary row with two of his medical staff. There has been plenty of transfer speculation at City, principally concerning their apparent interest in Kevin De Bruyne, but after their emphatic win at West Brom on Monday their week has been relatively trouble-free.

IS THE MEDICAL ROW A DIVERSIONARY TACTIC?

This has been suggested, as when things have not necessarily gone Mourinho's way before he has seemed to create another talking point. However, even if this was Mourinho's initial intention as his team were held to a frustrating draw by Swansea, the story has snowballed significantly since then to become a major row. That has led to greater speculation there could be underlying tensions in the Chelsea backroom team.

WHO IS UNDER THE MOST PRESSURE THIS WEEKEND?

A week can be a long time in football and the weight of pressure already seems to have shifted significantly since the Premier League began. Just last week, Chelsea were being lauded as strong title favourites by most pundits while City boss Manuel Pellegrini was seen as a man with a lot to prove. The week Mourinho has had has brought the heat back on him while Pellegrini is sitting comfortably with a new contract and a handsome opening win. Whether this is merely a short-term shift or something more significant remains to be seen.

HOW MUCH BEARING DOES THIS GAME HAVE?

It would be wrong to read too much into whatever the result is, given that it is only game two of a nine-month, 38-match slog. But it is an opportunity to land an early psychological blow and create some doubts in rivals' minds. For City victory would lift them five points ahead of Chelsea and bolster the positive feel around the club after Monday's heralded performance. For Chelsea, quite aside from the title picture, they could do with a win to ease some tension.

WILL MUCH FOCUS ON THE MANAGERS?

Mourinho and Pellegrini have a rivalry dating back five years, to when the former succeeded the latter at Real Madrid and made unflattering comments about his predecessor. There have been plenty of digs at each other since. Mourinho has referred to City's spending, breach of Financial Fair Play rules and called his rival "Pellegrino". Pellegrini often expresses indifference but has also refused to shake Mourinho's hand and unflatteringly compared Chelsea to Stoke. Mourinho has the edge in their head-to-head meetings, with eight wins from 13 contests. The tactical battle between the pair will be intriguing.

HOW MUCH DOES COURTOIS' ABSENCE HURT CHELSEA?

Not a lot. There does seem to be a feeling that it is an issue, with Chelsea appealing against Courtois' sending-off last weekend despite apparently little chance of success, and plenty of criticism of the decision to let Petr Cech join Arsenal. But this overlooks the fact that in Asmir Begovic, Stoke's number one for the past five years, they have acquired superb back-up.

PA

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