Football

Prove me wrong, City

Dietmer Hamann tells GARY LIM why he ranks Man United, 
Arsenal and Chelsea over the Citizens in the title race

MAN CITY v CHELSEA

(Tomorrow, 11pm, Singtel TV Ch 102 & 
StarHub TV Ch 227)

After their flying start to the season, do you think Manchester City are the favourites for the Premiership title?

HAMANN: I kind of wrote them off before the season began and I am still not sure if they have enough quality in them.

The 3-0 away win over West Bromwich Albion was impressive.

In fact, they looked the most impressive of the big teams after the opening weekend.

But I don't fancy their title chances because they are very reliant on David Silva, Sergio Aguero and Yaya Toure.

And I am not sure if this team have the steel to go the distance.

Vincent Kompany started the season okay, but there is a big question mark over his fitness to last the whole season.

I am not convinced they have what it takes, although it's still early days and I will have to watch a bit more of them.

For now, I still favour Man United, Arsenal and Chelsea over them.

As for tomorrow's match, City are the team with the better mindset.

Chelsea had a disappointing start with the 2-2 draw with Swansea and there is this saga between Jose Mourinho and the team doctor.

They are not in the best place at the moment but, having said that, it is only one game into the season.

Man City, on the other hand, are looking confident.

Do you think the controversy between Mourinho and the team doctor will hurt Chelsea's chances at the Etihad Stadium?

It's not good as there are a lot of stories and rumours surrounding the incident.

You don't really know what's been said behind closed doors or what the real problem was.

It shouldn't really affect the players but, at the same time, it is a topic that has attracted headlines and it will be distracting.

It's not ideal for their preparation.

How do you think this match will pan out?

Tactics always play a big part in these games.

It depends on where City manager Manuel Pellegrini plays Toure.

Chelsea pretty much play the same way. They will try to defend, and you must remember that they don't concede many away goals.

They will play on the counter while City will try to force the game and create chances.

You mentioned Toure. How crucial is he to City's chances of beating Chelsea?

The midfield is always where games are decided.

So, the battle between Toure and Nemanja Matic will be the most important battle tomorrow.

Matic was the best holding midfielder in the Premiership last season, along with Man United's Michael Carrick.

He gives Chelsea's defence the protection and stability.

Toure did really well against WBA.

He is capable of winning games on his own. He uses his power and pace to upset defences.

How well City fare depends on where he is deployed. He has to be played off either Aguero, if he is fit, or Wilfried Bony, and with two central midfielders.

Matic's job is a tough one. If he can keep a tight leash on Toure, Chelsea would have won half the battle.

Can you see Raheem Sterling making an impact at City?

Absolutely. In fact, he should have scored on Monday.

He's a terrific signing, although, at £49 million ($107m), he probably cost a little too much money.

City need someone of his calibre in that position.

Samir Nasri and Jesus Navas were disappointing for City last season.

They came with big reputations, but I don't think they have delivered for City.

Sterling has pace and he can create and score goals.

He's a terrific addition who will improve the Citizens significantly.


*Dietmar Hamann has played for Bayern Munich, Newcastle, Liverpool and Manchester City. He won the Bundesliga in 1994 and 1997, and the treble of the FA Cup, League Cup and Uefa Cup with Liverpool in 2001, besides the Champions League in 2005. The ex-German international is the author of The Didi Man: My Love Affair With Liverpool.

FIXTURES

TODAY

  • Southampton v Everton (7.45pm)
  • Sunderland v Norwich (10pm)
  • Swansea v Newcastle (10pm)
  • Tottenham v Stoke (10pm)
  • Watford v West Brom (10pm)
  • West Ham v Leicester (10pm)

TOMORROW

  • Crystal Palace v Arsenal (8.30pm)
  • Man City v Chelsea (11pm)

TUESDAY

  • Liverpool v Bournemouth (3am)

TIE DECIDER

The tactic that could determine the winner

Manchester City have pace to burn on the flanks, and Raheem Sterling and Jesus Navas can leave Branislav Ivanovic and John Terry chasing shadows, especially if David Silva or Yaya Toure gives a through-ball. City’s attackers won’t need a second invitation to test Chelsea’s new goalkeeper Asmir Begovic, who is set for his first EPL start for the Blues, as Thibaut Courtois is suspended. Chelsea must kill off the service from the middle and starve City’s wingers of the ball.


NUMBER CRUNCHER

The figures that could shape the outcome

2

Manchester City have beaten Chelsea only twice in their last nine EPL meetings (drawn three, lost four).

7

Jose Mourinho has won seven and lost just two of his 12 meetings as a coach with Manuel Pellegrini (drawn three).

9

Jose Mourinho has lost only nine in 77 EPL games in his second spell as Chelsea manager.

0

Chelsea have not lost any of their last 28 EPL games in the month of August (won 23, drawn five).

Pellegrini will shake Mourinho's hand

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini claims he will have no issue shaking Chelsea rival Jose Mourinho's hand tomorrow.

Pellegrini acknowledges that the pair have had their differences, but does not want that to detract from their meeting at the Etihad Stadium.

The two managers have a rivalry dating back to when Mourinho succeeded Pellegrini as Real Madrid boss in 2010 and made unflattering comments about his predecessor.

They did not shake hands after their first meeting in England in October 2013, when Mourinho's Chelsea snatched a late Fernando Torres winner at Stamford Bridge and the Portuguese celebrated extravagantly.

Mourinho was involved in another handshake incident a fortnight ago when he did not acknowledge Arsene Wenger after the Community Shield defeat by Arsenal.

But Pellegrini said yesterday: "I said the first day I arrived here I have my differences with him but... I always shake hands with him."

The Chilean, who has beaten Mourinho just twice in 12 attempts in England and Spain, added: "We are not thinking about the title in the second game, but we are thinking about trying to win our points at home, especially as we are playing against the champions and one of the teams that have a lot of chances to win the title.

"It is the same as Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham - all the big teams."

Pellegrini did not want to comment on Chelsea's controversy over their club doctor Eva Carneiro and physiotherapist Jon Fearn.

He said: "I cannot give you an opinion about what happens at another club. The players will be more interested in the game."

City striker Sergio Aguero is in contention to start against Chelsea. The Argentinian is being eased back into action after Copa America duty and is close to match fitness.

Midfielders Fabian Delph (hamstring) and Fernando (groin) are the only definite absentees, while left back Gael Clichy (ankle) will be assessed. - PA Sport.

manchester cityDietmar HamannCHELSEA (EPL)epl