Leadership (Abuja)

24 November 2012

Nigeria: EPL - Chelsea, Man City Clash At Stamford Bridge

After the unfavourable midweek Champions League result in Italy against Juventus that brought to an end Roberto Di Matteo's reign at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea will look to bounce back to winning ways in tomorrow's mouthwatering clash with Manchester City at home. It will be new coach Rafael Benitex's first match as Chelsea coach.

Chelsea announced on its website after Tuesday's 3-0 defeat to Juventus that left them on the brink of elimination from the Champions League that they have parted ways with their manager. "The team's recent performances and results have not been good enough and the owner and the Board felt that a change was necessary now to keep the club moving in the right direction as we head into a vitally important part of the season," Chelsea said on its website.

"The club faces a difficult task ahead in qualifying for the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League as well as maintaining a strong challenge for the top of the Premier League while competing in three other cup competitions."

Despite overseeing Chelsea's inaugural Champions League triumph - when they became the first London club to win the European Cup - in a penalty shoot-out over Bayern Munich last season and also bringing the FA Cup to Stamford Bridge, Di Matteo was sacked for going five matches without victory.

The Italian was appointed on a permanent basis in June and was dismissed fewer than 24 hours upon Tuesday's 3-0 defeat in Turin which left Chelsea poised to become the first Champions League winners to be knocked out in the group phase the following season.

Di Matteo, 42, is the seventh coach to have been sacked by owner Roman Abramovich since the Russian billionaire bought the club in 2003. Tomorrow's game will see Chelsea meet a tough challenge to comeback to winning ways as they would be up against a Manchester City side which has also been eliminated from the UEFA Champions League. So, the only reliable chance to celebrate a silver ware this season remains the Premier League title.

Unexpected defeats of Chelsea and Manchester United last weekend allowed Manchester City to stroll into first place in the Premier League table after crushing Aston Villa 5-0 on same weekend. United's 1-0 loss at Norwich prevented them from returning to the summit, while third-place Chelsea has now gone four league games without a win with a 2-1 loss at West Bromwich Albion.

Before tomorrow's high profile match at Stamford Bridge, five matches will be on card today in the EPL with Super Eagles' pace striker, Osaze Odemwingie, after helping his side West Bromwich Albion to a deserved 2-1 win against Chelsea last weekend lead his side's assault to Sunderland today for another victory to maintain their top fourth spot in the league.

Everton hosts Norwich at the Goodish Park, while Manchester United after the disappointing visit to Norwich last weekend will hope for a return to winning ways when they welcome bottom placed Queen Park Rangers to Old Trafford.

Fulham travels to Stoke City, while Wigan Athletic and Reading fight out for the three points at stake at the DW Stadium and Arsene Wenger will file out his players to sustain the strength they displayed at home against neighbours and rivals, Tottenham last weekend with a visit to Aston Villa.

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