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Weekend Matchup Between Manchester City And Chelsea Will Be A Heavyweight Bout

Sean Hartnett

Sean Hartnett has covered the New York Rangers and the NHL for WFAN.com since 2011. He has covered two Stanley Cup Finals. Sean now contributes to XNSports’ NHL and general sports coverage. He devotes far too much of his free time watching Simpsons and Seinfeld reruns. Sean can be reached via Twitter @HartnettHockey.

Manchester City midfield maestro David Silva believes that this weekend’s clash against title rivals Chelsea is an absolute must-win match.

First-place Chelsea has begun the season in fine form. The Blues currently hold a five-point lead over last season’s Premier League title winners. Jose Mourinho’s men will want to make a major statement against the Citizens when they enter Etihad Stadium on Sunday (11:00 AM Eastern time.)

“It is a very important game,” Silva told reporters during Thursday’ s press conference. “They are first in the league and have more points than us. We can’t lose on Sunday and let that gap get any bigger so it is a very important game.

“It is early in this stage, it’s still a long way to go in the Premier League and anything can happen. Yes, we need to win on Sunday because otherwise the gap will start to get too big.”

The Citizens recently suffered a shock 1-0 defeat to Stoke City and tied Arsenal 2-2 last weekend. City has also begun their Champions League campaign in gloomy fashion by losing to Bayern Munich via a last-minute strike by former Man City defender Jerome Boateng. This surely isn’t the start that manager Manuel Pellegrini expected.

CAN CITY STOP ON-FIRE STRIKER DIEGO COSTA?

This weekend, the challenge in front of the Citizens will be trying to keep the Premier League’s most deadly striker Diego Costa quiet.

The 25-year-old striker has torn apart Premier League defenses with his combination feistiness, aggressiveness and predatory instincts. Costa has scored a remarkable seven goals his first four Premier League matches for the Blues since arriving at Stamford Bridge from Atletico Madrid.

Costa is expected to start on Sunday despite hamstring troubles.

UNITED LEGEND SCHOLES QUESTIONS TOURE’S DESIRE

An additional worry for City is the form of under-fire Man City midfielder Yaya Toure. Former Manchester United midfielder Paul Scholes questioned the 31-year-old Ivorian’s desire in his column for The Independent.

“He just did not look interested,” Scholes said, of the 31-year-old Ivorian’s performance against Bayern Munich.

“Yaya Toure’s lack of defensive work in midfield has become a major problem for them.”

Pellegrini defended Toure following the defeat.

“I don’t think it is fair to criticize what Yaya did in the last game,” Pellegrini told reporters. “I think that, in this team, my way of thinking, normally when we win or lose it is because all the team did well or bad. I don’t agree Yaya has all the responsibility about the game we played,” he said.

EMOTIONAL RETURN FOR LAMPARD

Another major storyline Sunday’s match former Chelsea icon Frank Lampard potentially featuring against the Blues. The 36-year-old midfielder spent 13 seasons at Stamford Bridge and was a firm favorite among Chelsea supporters because of his sensational long-distance goals, loyalty and set piece expertise.

Lampard is currently on-loan at Eastlands from New York City FC. The MLS club is co-owned by Man City and the New York Yankees. Lampard is set to begin the 2015 season with NYCFC as one of the club’s main attractions alongside Spanish striker David Villa.

Pellegrini has confirmed that Lampard will be in City’s squad for Sunday. He is likely to begin the match on the bench.

It would be some story if Lampard comes on as a late substitute and scores the match-winner.

 

WEEK FIVE PREMIER LEAGUE PREDICTIONS:

Last week’s predictions can be viewed here.

 

STOKE CITY AT QPR (Saturday, 7:45 AM Eastern Time)

Prediction: Stoke 2-2 QPR.

SUNDERLAND AT BURNLEY (Saturday, 10:00 AM Eastern Time)

Prediction: Sunderland 1-1 Burnley.

SOUTHAMPTON AT SWANSEA (Saturday, 10:00 AM Eastern Time)

Prediction: Southampton 2-1 Swansea.

HULL CITY AT NEWCASTLE UNITED (Saturday, 10:00 AM Eastern Time)

Prediction: Hull 1-0 Newcastle.

ARSENAL AT ASTON VILLA (Saturday, 10:00 AM Eastern Time)

Prediction: Arsenal 2-2 Aston Villa.

LIVERPOOL AT WEST HAM (Saturday, 12:30 AM Eastern Time)

Prediction: Liverpool 2-0 West Ham.

MAN UNITED AT LEICESTER CITY (Sunday, 8:30 AM Eastern Time)

Prediction: Man United 3-1 Leicester.

WEST BROM AT TOTTENHAM (Sunday, 8:30 AM Eastern Time)

Prediction: Tottenham 2-0 West Brom.

MAN CITY AT CHELSEA (Sunday, 11:00 AM Eastern Time)

Prediction: Man City 3-2 Chelsea.

CRYSTAL PALACE AT EVERTON (Sunday, 8:30 AM Eastern Time)

Prediction: Everton 2-1 Crystal Palace.