Super Sunday: Chelsea clash with Man City will test title credentials
Can Man City inflict a first league home defeat on Jose Mourinho? Ed Chamberlin assesses...
Last Updated: 29/10/13 12:15pm
It hasn't been an easy start as Jose has got to know his players, while the players got used to the manager's demands. It's therefore ominous for the rest that Chelsea seem to be emerging from that difficult period right in the mix - top of Champions League Group E and second in the Premier League, just two points behind Arsenal.
They are still some way off top gear but Jose has them right where he wants to be ahead of the visit of Manchester City live on Super Sunday. What a game this promises to be.
Jose Mourinho has still never lost a Premier League game at Stamford Bridge, where he has now won 50 League matches and is a master at home as he's lost only three of his last 197 home League games as a manager since February 2002.
As always Mourinho's team selection will be fascinating. Juan Mata has been the headline story this season after his manager said he needed to "transform a few things in his game" suggesting that the Spanish midfielder had to do more defensive work.
Mourinho is a great coach and a tactical genius but he's also a 'numbers man' and Mata has given him a major conundrum. Mata wears number ten but it was Oscar that Mourinho declared as his man for that role this season. The Brazilian has a great work ethic to add to his creativity and he ticks Mourinho boxes.
Mourinho's greatest feat so far could be coaxing the best out of Fernando Torres. Torres looks to have fire back in his belly and it was interesting to see his teammates engulf him after his goals against Schalke. Whatever Mourinho's secret is at getting the best out of players seems to be working again. However, Eto'o played well against Cardiff and Demba Ba impressed against Norwich so it will be interesting to see who plays up front on Sunday.
City have an in-form striker of their own as Sergio Aguero (13/2 with Sky Bet to score the first goal) looked sharp again against West Ham. Again it will be fascinating to see if Mourinho goes up against him with the enigmatic David Luiz or plays it safe with Gary Cahill alongside John Terry as he did in the game at Schalke.
I will never forget presenting this fixture on Super Sunday last season. It was Rafa Benitez's first game in charge and the atmosphere was toxic. This weekend should be quite a contrast. We are also set to learn a lot more about the two favourites - 7/4 Man City, 11/4 Chelsea - in this season's title race.
Before that big game we have a crucial Tyne-Wear derby and a huge day for Gus Poyet. This derby is always special but this Sunday's meeting is going to be even more intense than usual, with so much at stake especially for the home side and their new manager.
You sense Sunderland have to win after making their worst ever start to a League season and have lost their first four home League games for the first time in their history. This could be a win that kick-starts their season.
Southampton, in 1998-99, are the only club to previously avoid relegation from the Premier League from this position (one point from first eight games).
You have to have some sympathy for Sunderland whose first eight Premier League home fixtures this season see them play six of last season's top seven as well as their North-East rivals Newcastle.
There should be goals on Sunday. There's not been a goalless draw between these two in the League since September 1989 at Roker Park in old Division Two (27 meetings since) and Sunderland's 3-0 win in the last meeting at St James' Park was the only Premier League meeting and only time in those 27 meetings that Newcastle have failed to score.
The derby is certainly a tough one for punters - Sky Bet can't split the teams and have Sunderland and Newcastle available at 8/5 - but will be an intriguing match and occasion to watch.
It's all part of a fascinating Super Sunday at the top and bottom of the table. We start at 12.30pm on Sky Sports 1.
Finally, make sure you have a look at the Sky Bet Super 6 competition this weekend. It's free to play and there's £1 Million up for grabs.
Also keep an eye out for Sky Bet's bet on "Ed Chamberlin's Selections" which won at 50/1 last weekend!