Manchester City’s hopes of stopping Chelsea’s 100 per cent winning start to the season have been severely hindered by the defensive headache facing manager Roberto Mancini.
Keeping things tight at the back will be vital to slow down a Chelsea attack that has already scored 21 goals in five Premier League games this season and another seven in two outings in cup competitions.
Mancini may be forced into fielding Gareth Barry or James Milner as a makeshift left-back as his injury list mounts up and City look to defy odds of 12/5 to beat Chelsea at Eastlands.
The Italian is now hoping that Micah Richards recovers from a hamstring injury, which would allow Pablo Zabaleta to fill the role rather than cover Richards on the right side of the defence.
Mancini said: “We have big problems. I hope that Micah Richards can recover. If not I don’t know who can play left-back.”
Barry does have experience of left-back from the early days of his career at Aston Villa and with Chelsea failing to employ wingers in the traditional sense, his inclusion may not be fraught with the same dangers as against other teams.
However, Nicolas Anelka will play from the right and has the pace to cause an inexperienced left-back problems.
Chelsea are 6/5 to maintain their winning league start to the season, which has seen their odds slashed to 8/11 to win the Premier League.
But Chelsea are not without injury concerns of their own as Yossi Benayoun and Salomon Kalou will miss the Manchester City clash, while Frank Lampard remains a doubt after breaking down in training.
Manchester City did the double over Chelsea last season, including claiming a 2-1 victory at Eastlands. See the complete Manchester City vs Chelsea Premier League match betting market.