It might be over-selling things to say that Chelsea’s season rests on Sunday’s FA Cup fifth round match against Manchester City, but it means a lot more than it would in any other year.
Premier League failings and Champions League struggles means the most realistic chance of silverware for the Blues this term comes in the cup.
Guus Hiddink won the trophy in his first spell at the club, and would love another run to help brighten what has been a fairly miserable season at Stamford Bridge.
City, on the other hand, are still fighting on four fronts. With interest in the Premier League, Champions League and Capital One Cup, the FA Cup is at the lower end of their priorities.
Sunday’s game is the start of an important week for City. They travel to Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League on Wednesday before a trip to Wembley to face Liverpool in the League Cup final.
Manuel Pellegrini has indicated that he will rest players this weekend with those big matches ahead. His decision provides Chelsea with a big chance to progress.
Despite their 2-1 defeat to Paris Saint Germain on Tuesday, Hiddink’s men are unbeaten in 12 domestically, and have begun to show the obvious class in the squad.
Betway make the hosts 21/20 to win, which I would advise backing. City’s record at Stamford Bridge is poor, with only one win since 1993 – surprising given the investment in the club over recent years.
After two demoralising home defeats to Leicester and Tottenham, I can’t see their second string getting anything in west London on Sunday.
Games involving City usually see early goals. Before Harry Kane’s 53rd-minute strike last week, the scoring was opened within the first 22 minutes in City’s previous six matches.
Given Chelsea were 3-0 up within 17 minutes against Newcastle last week, I’d look to sell the time of the first match goal at 34 with Sporting Index.
Chelsea 21/20 (Betway)
Sell time of first match goal 34 (Sporting Index)