On paper it looks like a hopelessly unequal struggle, but it’s the kind of fixture that Jose Mourinho relishes.
Manchester City v Chelsea on Monday night could well give Manuel Pellegrini’s free-scoring team the clear water they need to cruise to the Premier League title.
After all, City thrashed Spurs 5-1 at White Hart Lane in midweek, while the Blues could only manage a 0-0 draw against West Ham at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea’s frustration at dropping two vital home points was given sharper focus by the statistics. No team has managed more shots – 39 – in a Premier League game in the past decade, and still failed to score.
Mourinho could not believe his eyes as the Irons repelled attack after attack on Wednesday night, grumbling that his side had fallen victim to “19th century football”… whatever that means.
But Sam Allardyce’s tactics worked. It wasn’t pretty, but it was effective.
Now Chelsea have to regroup for the first part of an extraordinary double-header, with two visits to the Etihad stadium in the space of 12 days, in league and FA Cup.
The Blues are underdogs, bearing in mind City’s incredible home record, but Jose would do well to put himself through a few more uncomfortable viewings of the match tape from Wednesday night to study how Allardyce outwitted him.
Manchester City v Chelsea should be a feast of entertaining football, even if matches which promise so much regularly disappoint.
The Blues will have to contain a rampant, super-confident City side, then hit the Sky Blues on the break.
A key player will be the lofty Nemanja Matic, resigned and rejuvenated since his first brief spell, who looks a more gritty defensive midfielder than the player some think he will soon replace, John Obi Mikel.
One thing’s for certain. There won’t be much 19th-century football on display. This is a 21st-century clash of the titans.