After all the headlines and off-field dramas the John Terry saga should reach a climax tomorrow when Chelsea take on Manchester City in what could be one of the games of the season.

The attention will be focused squarely on two men. In the light-blue corner will be Wayne Bridge, a former a friend and team-mate of Terry, who now hates him so much that he has sacrificed his dream of playing for his country in a World Cup in order to avoid him.

In the dark-blue corner is Terry himself. Philanderer and former England captain, who lost the job he loved after his extra-marital affair with Bridge’s girlfriend came to light.

The pre-match handshake, or lack of it, will be as eagerly anticipated as the game itself. And it would be no surprise if when the whistle blows the two men charge straight for each other and start going at it hammer and tongs.

That there is no love lost between them is obvious, but neither side have been pulling any punches going into the game either. After Bridge effectively quit international football yesterday it emerged that one of the main reasons was that Terry had failed to offer an apology for sleeping with Vanessa Perroncel. Terry’s camp responded to the news in astonishing fashion – claiming that Bridge is a „bottler”.

Terry will have home advantage so will be spared the vitriolic reception he has got from fans elsewhere in the country – it will be interesting to see how the Chelsea faithful react to their former player Bridge.

The only concern for grudge-match fans will be whether or not City boss Roberto Mancini feels Bridge will be able to perform under such pressure. If not, he may leave him out of the team – depriving headline writers and pub pundits of their fun.

On the undercard at Stamford Bridge there are several interesting subplots. Firstly, the pressure on Mancini, whose honeymoon is well and truly over after two wins in eight games – much worse than the form that saw Mark Hughes sacked.

After going out of the FA Cup to Stoke Mancini simply has to finish fourth, or he will surely be on his way. A win would do him and his changes of survival a power of good.

City will be without the suspended Emmanuel Adebayor, but can welcome back Carlos Tevez. The striker has returned from compassionate leave in Argentina after the premature birth of his daughter Katie. He will have to patch up his differences with Mancini after the two appeared to fall out over the amount of time he should be away for, but he will be crucial to City’s chances of success.

As for Chelsea they are without Ashley Cole who has a broken ankle and a broken marriage to worry about, and Petr Cech is out with a calf problem. The Blues response to the humiliation heaped upon them by their former boss Jose Mourinho after losing to Inter Milan in midweek will also be interesting.

It might be a lunchtime kick-off but the atmosphere at Stamford Bridge, even at that genteel time of day, should be febrile.

Almost as an afterthought the fixture compilers have arranged some other games, and Arsenal travel to Stoke, the scene of their FA Cup exit, on Saturday afternoon. The Gunners should welcome back William Gallas in defence but Andre Arshavin remains doubtful although Eduardo could step in. A win would keep their faint title hopes flickering, but Stoke are in fantastic form at the moment and will fancy their chances after beating Manchester City on Wednesday night.

The other game of note on Saturday sees Burnley entertain Portsmouth who will by then have entered administration and will lie 16 points adrift at the bottom of the table after being docked nine points as punishment. How they and their fans treat the trip to Burnley will give a clue as to their future.

Saturday’s other fixtures see Birmingham take on Wigan and Wolves travel to Bolton.

On Sunday two of the other teams chasing fourth spot are in action. Liverpool, who beat Romanian minnows Unirea Urziceni in the Europa League this week, entertain Blackburn. Spurs face Everton, who were dumped out of Europe by Sporting Lisbon on Thursday, at White Hart Lane.

The other game sees another club that was in European action, Fulham, take on Sunderland. The Londonders will be in good spirrits for the trip north after claiming the impressive scalp of the holders Shakhtar Donetsk in the Europa League thanks to a mighty performance in midweek. 

Read the article on First Post

Terry and Bridge to square up as Chelsea play City

After all the headlines and off-field dramas the John Terry saga should reach a climax tomorrow when Chelsea take on Manchester City in what could be one of the games of the season.

The attention will be focused squarely on two men. In the light-blue corner will be Wayne Bridge, a former a friend and team-mate of Terry, who now hates him so much that he has sacrificed his dream of playing for his country in a World Cup in order to avoid him.

In the dark-blue corner is Terry himself. Philanderer and former England captain, who lost the job he loved after his extra-marital affair with Bridge’s girlfriend came to light.

The pre-match handshake, or lack of it, will be as eagerly anticipated as the game itself. And it would be no surprise if when the whistle blows the two men charge straight for each other and start going at it hammer and tongs.

That there is no love lost between them is obvious, but neither side have been pulling any punches going into the game either. After Bridge effectively quit international football yesterday it emerged that one of the main reasons was that Terry had failed to offer an apology for sleeping with Vanessa Perroncel. Terry’s camp responded to the news in astonishing fashion – claiming that Bridge is a „bottler”.

Terry will have home advantage so will be spared the vitriolic reception he has got from fans elsewhere in the country – it will be interesting to see how the Chelsea faithful react to their former player Bridge.

The only concern for grudge-match fans will be whether or not City boss Roberto Mancini feels Bridge will be able to perform under such pressure. If not, he may leave him out of the team – depriving headline writers and pub pundits of their fun.

On the undercard at Stamford Bridge there are several interesting subplots. Firstly, the pressure on Mancini, whose honeymoon is well and truly over after two wins in eight games – much worse than the form that saw Mark Hughes sacked.

After going out of the FA Cup to Stoke Mancini simply has to finish fourth, or he will surely be on his way. A win would do him and his changes of survival a power of good.

City will be without the suspended Emmanuel Adebayor, but can welcome back Carlos Tevez. The striker has returned from compassionate leave in Argentina after the premature birth of his daughter Katie. He will have to patch up his differences with Mancini after the two appeared to fall out over the amount of time he should be away for, but he will be crucial to City’s chances of success.

As for Chelsea they are without Ashley Cole who has a broken ankle and a broken marriage to worry about, and Petr Cech is out with a calf problem. The Blues response to the humiliation heaped upon them by their former boss Jose Mourinho after losing to Inter Milan in midweek will also be interesting.

It might be a lunchtime kick-off but the atmosphere at Stamford Bridge, even at that genteel time of day, should be febrile.

Almost as an afterthought the fixture compilers have arranged some other games, and Arsenal travel to Stoke, the scene of their FA Cup exit, on Saturday afternoon. The Gunners should welcome back William Gallas in defence but Andre Arshavin remains doubtful although Eduardo could step in. A win would keep their faint title hopes flickering, but Stoke are in fantastic form at the moment and will fancy their chances after beating Manchester City on Wednesday night.

The other game of note on Saturday sees Burnley entertain Portsmouth who will by then have entered administration and will lie 16 points adrift at the bottom of the table after being docked nine points as punishment. How they and their fans treat the trip to Burnley will give a clue as to their future.

Saturday’s other fixtures see Birmingham take on Wigan and Wolves travel to Bolton.

On Sunday two of the other teams chasing fourth spot are in action. Liverpool, who beat Romanian minnows Unirea Urziceni in the Europa League this week, entertain Blackburn. Spurs face Everton, who were dumped out of Europe by Sporting Lisbon on Thursday, at White Hart Lane.

The other game sees another club that was in European action, Fulham, take on Sunderland. The Londonders will be in good spirrits for the trip north after claiming the impressive scalp of the holders Shakhtar Donetsk in the Europa League thanks to a mighty performance in midweek. 

Read the article on First Post

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