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The clash of the cash clubs

Premier League rich boys Chelsea and Man City face off Saturday with the Londoners looking to extend their lead at the top while City chase fourth place

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Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti will hope his side can maintain their impresive home form Saturday against Man City. AFP

WITH Manchester United comfortably beating West Ham midweek, and with their attempt to defend the Carling Cup title against Martin O’Neil’s Aston Villa Sunday, the rest of the Premiership will look to exchange blows and battle it out to gain the upper hand in a season that is starting to reach the latter stages when every game has something riding on it.

Chelsea v Man City sees arguably two of the richest clubs in world football going head to head. Chelsea have already spent hundreds of millions of dollars on players, and have reaped the rewards. Man City have splashed the cash but are yet to acquire any silverware, arriving only recently amongst the elite of European football.

Chelsea are unbeaten at home this term and have only dropped two points out a possible thirty-nine at Stamford Bridge. Mancini has yet to prove his credentials at City, and it’s a big ask of his team to actually believe that they can hurt Chelsea and prosper at a ground that is simply a fortress.

Ancelotti’s Blue’s are the undoubted favourites for this game, and they’ll be desperate to extend their slender lead at the top of the table. Drogba, Anelka and Lampard as usual will be the main threats.

City have struggled against more robust sides in the division, such as Stoke. Chelsea know they have the physical edge and will look to blast past the Sky Blues with neat precise passing done at a high tempo. This game should be too soon for the City revolution, and Chelsea will likely stay four points clear of Man United come Sunday.

Arsenal travel to Stoke for the late game Saturday, with the Gunners almost in no-man’s land. They are almost certainly going to qualify for next season’s Champions League, but at the same time look unlikely title challengers.

Stoke’s style of football couldn’t be much further from Arsene Wenger’s philosophy. In Arsenal’s favour is the fact that Stoke’s mid-week FA cup replay went into extra time, and could prevent Tony Pulis’ side from playing with the vibrant energy that often allows them to bully teams at the Britannia Stadium.

Stoke are in decent form, and the Gunners know that Delap and co will launch a barrage of balls into their box. If Wenger’s side can weather the storm, their superior talent should shine through. Fabregas as always is Arsenal’s jewel in the crown and, despite a host of injuries, I think a fresher Arsenal squad will give Stoke a footballing lesson.

Liverpool a few weeks back staged a mini-recovery but have subsequently stumbled back into sixth spot. Benitez knows they must take all three points at home to Blackburn Sunday. With Torres ready to rejoin the attack, you’d have to expect a convincing win.

Blackburn have started picking up points at home but seem inept on their travels. Gerrard for me is still not at his best, but with Kuyt in decent goal scoring form, and Torres back, this should galvanise Liverpool to march past an ordinary Blackburn side.

Bolton v Wolves might not have the glamour or prestige of some of the games this weekend but it is no less important. After Bolton’s collapse against Spurs on Wednesday night, Owen Coyle will be looking for a reaction. Davies will be the key to propelling Bolton out of the relegation zone. If he receives the service from the flanks then Wolverhampton could be exposed.

Doyle has been looking sharp up top for Mick McCarthy’s side but he still isn’t finding the back of the net often enough. This game could go either way, and home advantage could be the only thing that splits two evenly matched teams.

Tottenham are somehow managing to hold onto fourth spot at the moment, despite the fact that they don’t seem to have accelerated through the gears. Everton have a decent record at White Hart Lane and, after beating the champions, their confidence will be sky high.

Aaron Lennon is still unavailable and his absence could be the difference for Tottenham this season. Redknapp will have to make a tough decision whether or not to play Crouch or Pavlyuchenko.

Everton under David Moyes have bounced back well after a disappointing start to the season. This game is unlikely to be one sided, but you just have to fancy Spurs because they have the kind of players that can decide games. Defoe as always will be the main goal threat, although Modric is starting to make the midfield click and along with the bullish Palacios, they should sneak past a resolute Everton.

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