x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Chelsea must 'find a way' to victory against Manchester City

Andre Villas-Boas denies he is trying to change too much, too soon at the London club but has a tactical dilemma at home to City.

Andre Villas-Boas, the Chelsea manager, has come under criticism this season for trying to impose his style of play too quickly.
Andre Villas-Boas, the Chelsea manager, has come under criticism this season for trying to impose his style of play too quickly.

Andre Villas-Boas, the Chelsea manager, has dismissed suggestions he has tried to change too much, too soon at the London club as he ponders whether to stick or twist for tonight's match with Manchester City.

Chelsea host the league leaders having bounced back from their worst start to a season since Roman Abramovich bought the club - a run that saw the Villas-Boas revolution come under scrutiny.

Some critics accused the 34 year old of rushing Chelsea's transformation from a side who defend deep and rely heavily on power and pace to one who mirror the style of Barcelona, something long dreamed of by Abramovich.

Despite a run of five defeats in nine games, Villas-Boas has repeatedly insisted Chelsea's new cavalier philosophy would not be abandoned. But it duly was during Tuesday night's Champions League win over Valencia, although Villas-Boas said that was down to events on the field rather than a deliberate ploy.

Asked if he had changed too many things, too quickly, he said: "No, I don't say that." Yet the success of Chelsea's approach against Valencia has given Villas-Boas a dilemma ahead of tonight's game. The Portuguese has acknowledged his side must "find a way" to beat City, who are capable of holding on to the ball in the same way as Valencia.

"We don't know what is going to happen," Villas-Boas said. "We know last year it was a difficult, tight game, solved in the last minutes with a 2-0 win."

Meanwhile, Nicolas Anelka moved a step closer to joining Shanghai Shenhua yesterday after the Chinese club confirmed they had reached an agreement with the striker on what is likely to be a two or three-year contract.

Though Chelsea are 10 points behind his side, Roberto Mancini, the City manager, expects them to be in title contention at the end of the season.

Mancini said: "Last year Chelsea had a big lead over [Manchester] United but in the end United won the title by seven or eight points plus [nine]. The Premier League is very difficult, [especially] in these two months. I think they can win it. They have 10 points less than us but we play two times against them and there are 24 games until the end of the season."