Both of these sides have taken a bruising recently, and neither looks particularly well-equipped to recover fully. Manchester City have suffered consecutive losses at home to their title rivals Leicester and Tottenham and this season has the potential to go from bad to worse. Despite a rally following the questionable penalty call against Spurs, the Citizens have too rarely been able to rouse themselves into playing their best football. Likewise, Chelsea’s loss to PSG may have been laudable as an acceptable away result but is still another loss. Hiddink has been able to stop the rot but the Blues look unlikely to rise much higher in the league table with only a third of the season left to play. Both sides could use a win.
A strange signing, observers got the impression that Mourinho had little need for Rahman and certainly didn’t pick the player himself. In the limited appearances he has made, Rahman has done little to impress fans although he did well against PSG and a woeful Newcastle side. At a potential cost of £20 million (depending on appearances) Rahman looks like a very expensive gamble considering he hasn’t really been needed or called upon.
Mikel scored a very welcome goal indeed in Paris on Tuesday night—only his sixth in his entire Chelsea career. It bought the Blues a lifeline, despite the loss. The away goal could prove crucial over the two legs of the tie—and it’s another example of Mikel’s improvement under Hiddink. He has gone from surplus to requirements to a key name on the teamsheet. Even if Chelsea’s manager next season (whoever that may be) doesn’t favour him, Mikel’s prospects of finding another team will be good.
The young Nigerian striker scored a fine equaliser against Spurs in his last league match, but almost every commentator wondered why none of his teammates celebrated with him. It was an important goal in an important match—perhaps it was a desire to maintain impetus and restart the match quickly, but it was still strange to see. Iheanacho clearly has some talent, but will he be able to crack Chelsea’s defence now that the West Londoners have remembered how to play?
One of the few Manchester City academy players to get a chance in the first team, Celina is a player for fans to get excited about. The potential is there to develop into a good player, although whether he can make it at the very top level is questionable. According to Patrick Viera the player is great in a roaming attacking midfield position, but he’s unlikely to enjoy that kind of playing freedom in this tie.