Monday 03 February 2014
Jose Mourinho says his Chelsea side have travelled to Manchester City with the aim of winning tonight's match, but Jamie Redknapp believes the Blues manager would be more than happy with a draw at Etihad Stadium.
Redknapp, the analyst for Sky Sports, which has exclusive live coverage of the match in tonight's Monday Night Football on Sky Sports 1 HD from 7pm, is relishing the match-up of different styles from two of the favourites for the Barclays Premier League title this season.
"Mourinho would bite your hand off for a 0-0 draw"
"Man City are a free-flowing machine, who are not content to score one or two," Redknapp says. "They want to beat you by four or five. It's quite refreshing."
The former Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool and England midfielder does not see Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini changing his team's attacking style and is expecting Chelsea to adopt the same cautious approach they took when visiting Old Trafford and Arsenal this season, both fixtures that were goalless, with six players sitting deep and the onus on an attacking quartet to create the chances.
"I see Chelsea trying to stop Man City from scoring, making it as difficult as possible by flooding the mdifeld with two defensive midfielders," he says. "Mourinho will say to Oscar, Hazard, Eto'o and Willian, 'Go win us the game'.
"But I think Mourinho would bite your hand off for a 0-0 draw. He'd take his chances that City will drop points elsewhere with the Champions League kicking in and possibly injuries. On the other hand, Pellegrini would see this as an opportunity to put some distance between City and Chelsea – a six-point gap."
Not for the first time, City will be without their leading scorer in the Barclays Premier League Sergio Aguero through injury but while they have coped before in his absence, Redknapp reckons the Chelsea defence will be happier not to have to face the diminutive Argentina striker.
"Aguero is a big loss because John Terry, Gary Cahill or David Luiz, if you'd ask them who they'd least like to play against out of City's four strikers it would have been Aguero, because of his low centre of gravity and pace," Redknapp says. "Negredo v Cahill or Terry would be a good match-up.
"Negredo is very strong and has had a great season so far but Terry would think that he wouldn't really run away from him as Aguero would. Negredo is fast but not of the same speed as Aguero."
"I don't remember a title race with so many teams in the mix"
No matter the result at the Etihad Stadium, Redknapp thinks it is too early to see the match as decisive in the race for the Barclays Premier League title.
"If City won they would become red-hot favourites but you couldn't say that it would be their title already," he says. "Remember they were eight points clear the season before last but Man United caught them up.
"A lot can happen; the Champions League, the injuries and the fear factor of getting across the line, but if they opened up a six-point gap on Chelsea you'd be surprised if Chelsea could claw that back.
"I don't remember a title race with so many teams in the mix. Of course, two years ago was the best I've witnessed what with Aguero's late goal to win the title. But Arsenal are also in this title race, especially if they can replicate their end-of-season form from the previous campaign.
"And it is only going to get more competitive with Liverpool improving. Man United are not going to stand still. And Tottenham, if they recruit some better players, there's no reason why they can't be in the mix next season."
Manchester City v Chelsea will be exclusively live in HD on Sky Sports 1's "Monday Night Football" with Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher starting from 7pm. It is also available on Sky Go and via Sky Sports Day Pass on NOW TV. To find out more go to www.Nowtv.com.