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
Coupled with last weekend's 2-0 defeat by second-tier
Middlesbrough, they have now gone three games without a win in all
"We must turn our minds to the Premier
League," said Pellegrini. "We have a difficult game against Chelsea.
I hope we can recover during the week 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 chair Tim Rolls has told Britain's Press Association: "I
don't think anybody is going to boo him."
The stage is set for an attritional battle, with
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.