Go for Man City's jugular, Jose
MAN CITY v CHELSEA
(Tonight, 11pm, SingTel mio TV Ch 102 & StarHub TV Ch 227)
Chelsea creep into enemy's territory with claws sharpened.
Manchester City stand watch with weapons zeroed.
This should be a titanic tussle, a no-holds-barred contest between the two hottest English Premier League title favourites at the Etihad Stadium tonight.
But only if Jose Mourinho obliges.
He would have you believe his Chelsea always play to win.
He has engineered great triumphs and even greater escapes.
Except that beautiful football is not always guaranteed.
He is a master of the dark arts, but only an occasional dabbler of the fancier stuff.
He is remembered more for tactical masterclasses than footballing masterpieces.
He left Porto with a famous night at Old Trafford to remember. He guided Inter Milan to a sensational victory over a Barcelona at their prime.
Last season, he brought Anfield to its knees, wrecking Liverpool's league title dreams almost right at the finishing line.
The modus operandi was all the same: Death by strangulation.
Mourinho abhors risk-taking, particularly so when the opposition are no pushovers. Gambling is just not in his blood.
But he will do well to throw caution to the wind in Manchester, where City look almost ripe for the picking.
That's an exaggeration, of course, for City are never sitting ducks. But this is as close as it gets.
Four matches into the Premiership campaign, the defending champions have yet to hit their stride.
They suffered a shocking defeat at home to Stoke, and in their last league game, threw away the lead against Arsenal although they eventually stole a late equaliser to rescue a point.
It's early days still, but to see five points open up between Chelsea, who head the table, and them doesn't augur well.
And there was the European setback, a 1-0 defeat by Bayern Munich that served yet another humbling reminder that City's continental pedigree requires further polishing.
City manager Manuel Pellegrini needs his charges to rebound from the blow instantly, simply because a loss to Chelsea will sink them deep into football's quicksand. It is also why Chelsea must seek to inflict the hammer blow just when their opponents are at their most brittle.
The Blues can go eight points clear of their toughest title rivals with a victory.
They have plenty going for them.
They have a 100 per cent record in the Premiership.
They have attacked their opponents with spectacular results - 15 goals in four matches.
Striker Diego Costa, who leads the league's goal-scoring chart with seven goals, has been cleared to start after only coming on as a substitute in the midweek 1-1 draw with Schalke in the Champions League.
While Chelsea look to continue their prolific form in front of goal, City are struggling with injuries in their strikers' department.
Stevan Jovetic, who began the season on a bang, will miss the clash, while Eden Dzeko is a doubt.
Chelsea can surely smell the vulnerability emanating from the Etihad Stadium.
But will Mourinho be tempted to abandon the free-flowing football which has served his team so well in their first four matches, and withdraw his team into a defensive shell that does no justice to the attacking talent of the likes of Eden Hazard, Cesc Fabregas and Costa?.
Or will he hunt down a wounded City and aim for the jugular?
This looks like a risk Mourinho has to take.
I always try to think of positives, so i hope we are not going to lose and we not going to go eight points behind Chelsea. We must win our next game at home and with that we will be two points behind the leader.
— Man City manager Manuel Pellegrini
Mourinho seeks perfection, looks to Costa
Jose Mourinho places no significance on Chelsea's double success over Manchester City last season as he continues to seek perfection.
Chelsea twice beat City in the Premier League - and lost 2-0 in the FA Cup - only to finish four points behind Manuel Pellegrini's men in the race for the title.
The Blues came unstuck against "lesser" opposition, but have begun the current campaign following a summer strengthening exercise with four wins from four games and sit five points clear of tonight's opponents.
Mourinho (above) said: "What happened last year and seasons before I don't think has a relation to this season. It's a completely different story.
"It doesn't matter the record we had last season against City. We respect them totally, because they deserve that respect, but at the same time we believe in us and we want to win.
"Can we go there and win like we did last season? Obviously we can, but can we lose? We also can. And I don't think statistics play a part in this.
"I want to win this game to get three points. I'm totally focused on three points and the Premier League 2015, (rather) than history."
Chelsea's momentum was checked by Schalke in midweek as the Blues began their Champions League Group G campaign with a 1-1 draw.
"We were always scoring three, four, five, six goals and in the last match we scored only one.
"We try to improve in every aspect. The perfect situation is to score a lot of goals and not concede. We have to chase that perfection."
Mourinho's drive for goals will depend largely on striker Diego Costa, who will be risked despite not being fully fit.
The Spain striker, who has scored seven times in four league matches, was a substitute in the draw with Schalke.
The £32 million ($66m) summer signing from Atletico Madrid is not ready to play more than one game a week, according to Mourinho, after a hamstring problem recurred while on international duty earlier this month.
Asked if Costa was so important to Chelsea that Mourinho had to pick him, the Blues boss said "yes" before answering in the affirmative when asked if it was a risk.
"Diego is not in the best condition, but he will start the game," said Mourinho.
"He plays this game, he cannot play against Bolton (in the League Cup next Wednesday). It's as simple as that. I know clearly that we have to try to protect him until he gets completely fit." - PA Sport.