Chelsea v Manchester City @ Stamford Bridge
Saturday, January 31 @ 5.30pm
Chelsea will be without the suspended Diego Costa for Saturday’s crucial top-of-the-table Premier League match against Manchester City at Stamford Bridge.
Costa’s three-match ban for stamping on Liverpool’s Emre Can in Tuesday’s Capital One Cup semi-final means Didier Drogba could start up front for the Blues.
Costa has netted 17 times this season for Chelsea, and Jose Mourinho is also sweating on the fitness of midfielder Cesc Fabregas.
Fabregas, who has 15 assists, could miss out after sustaining a hamstring injury in Tuesday’s 1-0 win over Liverpool.
If he is ruled out, Chelsea would be without both of the hugely influential pair for the first time in the league this season.
Their combined absence would be a blow to Mourinho’s hopes of beating City in a game that could go a long way to determining the title’s destination.
Despite last week’s shock FA Cup exit to League One Bradford City, Chelsea have won all ten of their league games at home this season.
Victory for the Blues would give them an eight-point lead over second-placed City, who will have Stamford Bridge legend Frank Lampard in their squad.
Lampard returns to the Bridge for the first time since leaving in the summer, and Mourinho will be well aware of his ex-midfielder’s goal-scoring threat.
Lampard has netted seven times already this season, including the goal that salvaged a point for City when the two teams met at the Etihad in September.
Manuel Pellegrini’s team will be missing Yaya Toure and new signing Wilfried Bony as they prepare for Ivory Coast’s African Cup of Nations quarter-final against Algeria.
City have won only once at Stamford Bridge in their last 16 Premier League visits.
Picture courtesy of Brent Flanders, with thanks