Lampard’s swansong at Stamford Bridge

2015-01-31 00:00

LONDON — A run of eight wins in nine games left City dead-level with Chelsea on New Year’s Day, but a draw at ­Everton and a 2-0 home defeat by ­Arsenal have seen Manuel Pellegrini’s team fall five points off the pace.

Coupled with last weekend’s 2-0 ­defeat by second-tier Middlesbrough, they have now gone three games without a win in all competitions.

“We must turn our minds to the Premier League,” said Pellegrini. “We have a difficult game against Chelsea. I hope we can recover and get back to normal.”

Ivory Coast’s qualification for the ­Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals means City remain without Yaya Toure and new signing Wilfried Bony, but ­Sergio Aguero has proven his fitness ­following a knee injury by coming through 90 minutes against Arsenal and Middlesbrough.

Former Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard, who scored an 85th-minute equaliser for City when the teams last met in September, could be making his final appearance at Stamford Bridge.

The sight of Chelsea’s all-time record goal-scorer in a City shirt will jar with the London club’s supporters, particularly as he had previously pledged that he would never play for a rival club.

But the 36-year-old was applauded by the visiting fans after refusing to celebrate his goal in the reverse fixture and Chelsea Supporters’ Trust chairperson Tim Rolls has said: “I don’t think anybody is going to boo him.”

The stage is set for an attritional ­battle, with José Mourinho likely to select three central midfielders in a bid to overwhelm City pair Fernando and Fernandinho much as Arsenal did at the Etihad Stadium.

With Fabregas nursing a tight hamstring, John Mikel Obi and Ramires could both be brought into the team to play alongside Nemanja Matic, which would probably see Oscar drop out. Cesar Azpilicueta will come in for Luis if the Brazilian left-back cannot overcome a calf problem, while Didier Drogba is in line to replace Costa up front.

Premier League Fixtures

Today

Hull v Newcastle

Crystal Palace v Everton

Liverpool v West Ham

Manchester United v Leicester City

Stoke v Queens Park Rangers

Sunderland v Burnley

West Brom v Tottenham Hotspur

Chelsea v Manchester City

Tomorrow

Arsenal v Aston Villa

Southampton v Swansea

Chelsea 22 16 2 4 52

Manchester City 22 14 3 5 47

Southampton 22 13 6 3 42

Manchester United 22 11 4 7 40

Arsenal 22 11 5 6 39

Tottenham Hotspur 22 11 7 4 37

West Ham United 22 10 6 6 36

Liverpool 22 10 7 5 35

Swansea City 22 8 8 6 30

Stoke City 22 8 9 5 29

Newcastle United 22 7 9 6 27

Everton 22 5 9 8 23

Crystal Palace 22 5 9 8 23

West Bromwich Albion 22 5 10 7 22

Aston Villa 22 5 10 7 22

Sunderland 22 3 8 11 20

Burnley 22 4 10 8 20

Hull City 22 4 11 7 19

Queens Park Rangers 22 5 13 4 19

Leicester City 22 4 13 5 17

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