Premier League Preview: Chelsea vs. Manchester City

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  • Chelsea leads all-time series 57W-38D-44L
  • City 2-1-1 in last 4 at Stamford Bridge
  • Drew 1-1 on Sept. 25 at the Etihad

There are big ones, and there are big ones… and this one’s a doozy.

First-place Chelsea hosts second-place Manchester City at 1230pm ET Saturday on NBC (Watch online via Live Extra) with the chance to open up a whopping 8-point lead on the Premier League field with 15 matches to play.

[ MORE: How will they line up? ]

It won’t be easy. The Blues will be without superstar striker Diego Costa, who was suspended for three games after using Emre Can’s ankle as a starting block for a post-tackle sprint. And the statuses of Cesc Fabregas, Felipe Luis and Branislav Ivanovic are considered up in the air.

Manchester City is also waiting on injuries to Samir Nasri, Frank Lampard and Martin Demichelis, and will be missing Wilfried Bony and Yaya Toure to Africa Cup of Nations duty.

What they’re saying

Chelsea’s Eden Hazard are handling English defenses: “If the defenders want to pressure me early on and make me feel heavy contact it’s not a problem. When I was in France it was the same. It’s never really changed. If I can get a free-kick for my team and the opposition player gets a yellow card or a red card that is good.  also like it when the defender goes in hard and commits to a tackle because it gives me the chance to go round him.”

Man City boss Manuel Pellegrini on Costa’s suspension: “Maybe he is not an easy character, but I hope with this punishment that it will be a good thing for him for him to change a little bit in the future. He does not need to do that kind of thing because he is a top player.”

Prediction

This one could be stingy despite some injuries in the defense, and it’s reasonable to thing set pieces will play a big role, with John Terry and Didier Drogba cogs for Chelsea. Will home field be an advantage for the Blues? In some ways yes, in others, no. Call it a win without winning for Chelsea, which keeps its 5-point lead after a 2-2 draw.