Stamford Bridge will host the biggest game of the season so far when Chelsea face Manchester City on Sunday in a battle between the two best squads and two biggest budgets in the Premier League.
Jose Mourinho's Chelsea (5-2-1) had a slow start to their campaign despite a summer of big-name additions - not least the manager himself - but have started to pick up momentum and go into Sunday's game on 17 points, just two off the top of the table. The Blues have still never lost a home game with Mourinho in charge - a run that is now at 64 matches. Despite the significance of the visit of City, Mourinho believes it is too early in the season to read into the result.
"We prepare every game the same way, we want to win," said the Portuguese manager. "Every weekend somebody loses points. The league is hard so I don't think at this stage one game is going to be crucial.
"We have tests every week. They're a big team yes, but every match is a test and every match is three points, so it doesn't make a difference."
Manchester City (5-1-2) had a big-spending summer under new manager Manuel Pellegrini, but this year's additions seemed a lot more targeted to suit the needs of the squad and City have slowly developed into a formidable side over the opening months of the campaign. A 2-1 away win at CSKA Moscow in the Champions League was the latest success story for Pellegrini's side, and showed that the veteran manager may have solved his team's problems away from home, having won just two of their last seven on the road in the league. A win away at Stamford Bridge would be a major signal of City's intent, but their manager is also playing down the significance of the game.
"Of course it is an important moment, it is always important playing against a team that has a lot of chance to win the Premier League," said Pellegrini. "I repeat the same thing I said when we played against Manchester United, it is a match of six points.
"This is the ninth game. We have a lot of games in the future. It is not the important game of the year. It is an important game, but it will not decide anything."
Chelsea have injury doubts over Ashley Cole (rib) and are without Martin van Ginkel (knee) for the rest of the season, while City have doubts over captain Vincent Kompany (thigh) and fellow centre-back Martin Demichelis (knee).
City took four points off Chelsea last season, and also beat them in the FA Cup semi-final. This fixture ended goalless with just six shots on target in the whole game, while Yaya Toure and the now departed Carlos Tevez scored in a 2-0 win for the Citizens at the Etihad.
Chelsea have won just two of their last eight Premier League meetings with City, losing five and drawing once. Despite their overall struggles, the Blues have a much better record against the Citizens at Stamford Bridge - losing just one of their last 12 meetings at the west London ground. Over the course of those 12 matches Chelsea have outscored City 26-6.
Mourinho's side have conceded just five goals in the Premier League this season, and never more than one in any match. Having netted seven goals in their opening six league matches, Chelsea have bagged seven in their last two games. The Blues have won five straight matches at Stamford Bridge and 11 of their last 12.
City have scored 20 goals already this season - a league high - and also top the Premier League charts for shots on target (52). Sergio Aguero has scored five goals in his last three Premier League matches, but has yet to score in four consecutive league games since joining the Manchester club.
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