Chelsea F.C. vs Manchester City
How exquisite it would be if the latest installment of the new rivalry of English football at Stamford Bridge on Saturday should rest on the shoulders of two of the stadium’s old-fashioned, everlasting favourites Chelsea F.C. and Manchester City F.C.
The feats of a couple of 36-year-olds, Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard, are inscribed in Bridge lore. For Chelsea F.C. fans, though, only one of them is now wearing the right shade of blue.
The orange banner which pronounces ‘Drogba Legend’ is still paraded at every home game in the expectation the Ivorian striker can still work his old wizardry.
With Diego Costa starting a ban for his midweek stamp in the game against Liverpool, Saturday’s Premier League title showdown with Manchester City is a chance for Drogba to show that, even if not the force of nature of his first spell at the club, his quality is undimmed.
Then there’s the scenario to haunt the home fans. They give Lampard a warm ovation — and if they don’t, they’re not really Chelsea fans — and then watch him sink their team with a goal as memorable as any of the record 211 he scored for them.
Drogba is routinely hailed by manager Jose Mourinho for his influence behind the scenes while Lampard’s refusal to celebrate his goal against Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium earlier this season demonstrated his class.
As they both grow older gracefully, that’s more than can be said for a fixture which, with these two fat-walleted clubs ready to arm wrestle for supremacy for years to come, has the capacity to become ever more frantic and acrimonious.
Mourinho preferred silence on the eve of the game, which made for blessed relief after his recent outbursts. He has appeared to be looking for fights in empty rooms, always a sign a big game is approaching.
His ‘infamy, infamy, they’ve all got it infamy’ theatrics have always served him pretty well, mind.
As for City manager he’s so weary of it he sighed on Friday: “I don’t talk about Mourinho”.
The Chilean is the one under pressure but he said if City lose again and fall eight points behind Chelsea, we should remember his team have made up that sort of deficit on more than one previous occasion.
Perhaps that is not the message to be sending out to his Middle East paymasters. Surely, he has to go for it. Eight points behind and the hype will be right — it probably is a title decider.