Wembley awaits as City and Chelsea clash in FA Cup semi final
By Aaron Leggott
Two managers come up against one another with a heap of media pressure on their shoulders. Perhaps this game could either make or break Roberto Mancini's and Rafa Benitez's season.
Of course, the circumstances surrounding the two managers couldn't be any different. Mancini, for example, has a future to fight for at City - with some commenting that tomorrow could be his final chance.
|Under pressure? Mancini doesn't look like he's feeling the heat|
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Benitez on the other hand knows of his future at Chelsea and it isn't one that will last long. The Spaniard has even admitted that he will be out of the door come May but you can imagine that he would love to silence his critics and deliver a trophy back to Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea travel to Wembley on the back of a 3-2 defeat in Russia on Thursday. Despite the defeat to Rubin Kazan, Benitez's men progressed to the Europa League semi finals - which will be a big boost for a club who have been going through a transitional period recently.
However, with City's recent record against the Blues, you'd fancy Mancini's men to prove too much for Chelsea. The last meeting on neutral ground came just eight months ago at Villa Park, as City triumphed 3-2 to lift the Community Shield.
With only David Silva expected to miss out after limping off on Monday night, Mancini will be hoping for a similar outcome to the Community Shield and see his side progress to their second FA Cup final in three years.
We come into this semi final on the back of some recently top class performances and after Monday night, I'm extremely confident that we can get another win tomorrow.
Of course, the biggest blow to our chances will be if David Silva doesn't play, but I'd expect Mancini to just replace him with Aguero, whose goal at Old Trafford really was brilliant.
Chelsea will be missing Ashley Cole and I can also see John Terry missing out after playing in Russia - both of whom will be massive losses in Chelsea's back line. I just don't rate David Luiz and I think Ryan Bertrand could well be found out against top class opposition... but we'll wait and see.
This game, like many other top clashes, will be won in the midfield. I would expect to see Jon Obi Mikel and Ramires start in the middle for Chelsea and they will provide a sterner test then the midfield faced at Old Trafford at the start of the week.
I can see City wanting this game more and it is probably a blessing that Chelsea won on Thursday, which probably narrows their focus on this competition.
This Chelsea side are ruthless in this competition though, and we cannot take anything for granted. Below is a video of the Community Shield victory in August - the last time these sides met on neutral soil.
Prediction: City 2 - 1 Chelsea
Ahead of the game, we spoke to Chelsea fan Jamie Collett who gave his views ahead of a crucial tie for both sides.
Chelsea haven't had the best of records this season against City, losing twice and drawing at Stamford Bridge. What do you make of your chances on Sunday?
Jamie: I think City are slight favourites but we have enough quality to win. It's going to be close and could go either way to be honest.
What do you make of Chelsea's season so far?
Jamie: Our season started off brilliantly but has faded as the campaign has gone on. I would say that we should be closer to United and for that reason our league performance has been poor. However, we seem to be going through a transition stage and the football at times has been fantastic. Overall, I would give the season so far a 6/10.
The Rafa situation... are you for or against his appointment? And how do you think he has done since joining the club?
Jamie: I was against his appointment initially but was prepared to change my view if he improved the team. However, the football played has been less exciting than under Roberto di Matteo and results have been poor in the league. Results are beginning to improve but after the start we had, it is poor that we are worrying about having to ensure to qualify for the Champions League.
Who would you say is Chelsea's key player on Sunday and why?
Jamie: Our key player is Juan Mata. If he plays poorly, Chelsea don't play well. He's been our best player all season by a mile and we'll only win if he plays well.
Predicted Chelsea line-up?
Jamie: (4-2-3-1) Cech; Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Luiz, Bertrand; Mikel, Ramires; Mata, Hazard, Oscar; Ba
Who would you say is City's main threat to the Chelsea team and why?
Jamie: Yaya Toure. We couldn't deal with his power in the Community Shield and the league game at the Etihad. We need to stop his power if we are to get anything out of the game.
And finally.. prediction for the game?
Jamie: I think it'll be very close. I'm going to go for a 2-1 Chelsea win.
Thanks to Jamie for answering the questions... let's hope he is wrong with his prediction though!