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Benitez: Baptism of fire

Benitez: Baptism of fire

New Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez is set for a baptism of fire as the side take on Premier League leaders Manchester City at Stamford Bridge on Sunday afternoon.

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Benitez was named Roberto Di Matteo's successor this week after the Italian was sacked following the Blues' 3-0 defeat to Juventus on Tuesday, a result that left the Champions League holders on the brink of a group stage exit.

That means former Liverpool boss Benitez will have just under four days in which to meet, greet and prepare his players for the visit of the defending champions, who are yet to lose a league game this season.

Roberto Mancini's men will, however, still be hurting from their European Cup exit this week.

City have been dumped out of the tournament at the group stage for a second year running following their 1-1 draw against Real Madrid.

The Citizens, though, should be confident of domestic success this weekend, having gone undefeated this term with eight wins and four draws, while they will also be out for their third successive league win.

Chelsea, meanwhile, have seen their stunning early-season form come to a halt, with the west Londoners having surrendered their position at the summit following four league matches without a win.

Their most recent domestic outing ended in a 2-1 loss to West Brom, a result which saw them drop three points behind second-placed Manchester United and a further one adrift of City.

On the team front, both managers face selection headaches. Benitez begins his rein without Blues skipper John Terry, who is recovering from a knee injury.

However, Daniel Sturridge will be hoping to return after missing out in midweek with a hamstring strain.

Fernando Torres could also come back into the starting XI after he was benched for the clash against Juve.

City are also unlikely to have their captain available after Vincent Kompany left Wednesday's draw with Madrid on crutches.

Definitely out are Gael Clichy (ankle), Micah Richards (knee) and Mario Balotelli (back).

Posted: 23/11/12 10:45

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