By Mike Collett
LONDON, Oct 24 (Reuters) - If their rivalry as coaches in Spain is anything to go by, Jose Mourinho will emerge victorious, and possibly by a big margin, when his Chelsea side play Manuel Pellegrini's Manchester City at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
Portuguese Mourinho succeeded Argentine Pellegrini as Real Madrid coach in May 2010 and after Pellegrini re-surfaced as Malaga's manager five months later, they faced each other seven times in La Liga and the Kings Cup in two and a half seasons.
Mourinho emerged on top in five of their seven encounters, including 7-0 and 6-2 La Liga drubbings, before they both left Spain for England at the end of last season.
The Premier League is a far more unpredictable competition than La Liga and they will meet on Sunday with little to choose between them on current form.
Chelsea are second on 17 points, City are fourth on 16, both have won their last two league matches by convincing scores and both won away in the Champions League this week with Chelsea beating Schalke 04 and City winning at CSKA Moscow.
Both teams have also been tipped as potential champions and both at the very least are targetting a top four finish but City have the better recent record having won four and drawn one of their last five matches against Chelsea including last season's Community Shield and FA Cup semi-final victories at Wembley.
Chelsea could end the weekend in top spot if they beat City and current league leaders Arsenal slip up.
But Arsenal are making the short trip across London to Crystal Palace who have lost seven of their eight league matches and parted company with manager Ian Holloway on Wednesday and so a Palace win would constitute the biggest upset of the season.
Until they were beaten 2-1 by Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League on Tuesday, Arsenal had gone 12 games unbeaten since losing their opening Premier League match to Aston Villa in August.
Saturday's match will be the first between them since February 2005 and the Gunners have a doubt over midfielder Jack Wilshere who picked up an ankle knock against Borussia on Tuesday. Palace have far bigger doubts over their ability to stay in the Premier League after promotion last season.
Palace were crushed 4-1 at home by Fulham in another London derby on Monday and look all set for more capital punishment from Arsene Wenger's in-form and free-scoring side.
Liverpool could also move into top spot if they win, at home to mid-table West Bromwich Albion and Arsenal lose, although West Brom are on a good run, and apart from a penalty shootout defeat to Arsenal in the League Cup, are unbeaten in their last six matches which includes a 2-1 win at Manchester United.
The champions, who beat Real Sociedad 1-0 in the Champions League on Wednesday, a scoreline that barely reflected their dominance, will be pleased the focus switches back to what they do on the field at home to Stoke City rather than the revelations from former manager Alex Ferguson's latest autobiography.
Ferguson's thoughts on his 26 years as manager made the front and back pages this week, but the thoughts of his successor David Moyes are firmly focused on making former United player Mark Hughes' return to Old Trafford an unhappy one as the current Stoke boss.
United have made their porest start to a season for 24 years and are eighth, eight points behind Arsenal with just one win from their last four league games having let Southampton steal a last-gasp equaliser for a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford last week.
Moyes, given Ferguson's full support this week, will be hoping that Robin van Persie returns to action after missing the Real Sociedad game with toe and groin niggles. Stoke are hovering just a point above the drop zone after scoring one goal and taking just two points from their last five league matches.
Bad as that is, it is better than bottom-of-the-table Sunderland's recent run of six successive defeats but new boss Gus Poyet, whose first match in charge ended in a 4-0 hammering at Swansea City last week, will be hoping for a change of fortune on Sunday.
Sunderland host arch-rivals Newcastle United in what is bound to be a typically passionate Tyne-Tees derby, and a first win of the season might just be the kick-start Sunderland need to save a season that seems destined to end in relegation. (Reporting by Mike Collett; editing by Martyn Herman)
- Sports & Recreation
- Jose Mourinho
- Manuel Pellegrini
- Premier League
- La Liga
- Real Madrid
- Manchester City