Roman Abramovich has wasted little time in deposing Roberto Di Matteo and installing an interim manager, with Fernando Torres being dropped by the Italian against Juventus and it’s unlikely that Benitez will follow the same selection policy.
There are also three other Premier League matches on Sunday including Liverpool heading to south Wales as Brendan Rodgers and Joe Allen return to their old club hoping to continue the Reds’ strong recent performances.
Swansea v Liverpool 13.30
It’s 10th versus 11th at the Liberty Stadium on Sunday and something of a surprise to see Swansea available at 5/2 (Betfred free bets) considering that City have lost just once at home this season and recently held Chelsea to a 1-1 draw.
Michael Laudrup’s team also won at Newcastle last weekend and will be fired up to beat a Liverpool side that are now managed by Brendan Rodgers after the northern Irishman impressed the Anfield board enough to replace Kenny Dalglish in the summer.
Many were tipping the Swans to struggle after losing the likes of Joe Allen, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Steven Caulker although Laudrup’s purchase of Michu has proved to be a masterstroke and the Spaniard was once again on the scoresheet at St James’ Park, with bet365 offering 8/1 that he scores the first goal of this game.
Liverpool are a 23/20 chance (Betfred bookmaker) to win this match in south Wales but it’s hard to see what they have done to justify such a price. The Merseyside team might have beaten Wigan 3-0 last weekend although they have just one win in five matches and that was against a Norwich side that had momentarily forgotten how to defend.
The visitors are over-reliant on Luis Suarez for goals and Blue Square offer 5/1 that he scores the first of this game although there will be little love lost between him and Swansea defender Ashley Williams who had some choice comments to make about the Reds striker in his book.
A draw is perhaps the best bet on Sunday considering Rodgers has started making Liverpool hard to beat and that can be backed at 5/2, with a 1-1 scoreline on the cards considering these two teams are evenly-matched at the moment.
Southampton v Newcastle 15.00
This fixture conjures up memories of Matt Le Tissier scoring some outrageous goals for the Saints during the 1990’s and how Southampton would love to have a player of his ilk in the team this season as they strive to avoid immediate relegation from the Premier League.
Nigel Adkins has experienced the greatest amount of pressure in the past few weeks since becoming a manager although last weekend’s 3-1 win at QPR could be the start of things to come for the Hampshire club and Paddy Power offer 6/4 that Southampton land a win which should see them out of the relegation zone.
St Mary’s was something of a fortress for the home side last season although points have been a good deal more scarce this time around, even if the Saints did thrash Aston Villa 4-1 and also had Manchester United on the ropes before losing 3-2.
Rickie Lambert was back on the scoresheet at Loftus Road and Adkins will surely continue with the forward against the Magpies, with odds of 6/1 that he scores first against a team that were playing a Europa League match against Maritimo on Thursday night.
It’s all a bit ‘after the Lord Mayor’s Show’ for Newcastle this season and consecutive home defeats have left them mid-table, with Alan Pardew returning to one of his former clubs hoping to settle a score after clashing with chairman Nicola Cortese in 2010 and promptly leaving.
United were picking up away wins for fun last season and 2/1 is a chunky price if they can rediscover some of that form on the road, with goals likely to be flying in at both ends.
Chelsea v Manchester City 16.00
There was no stopping Chelsea in September and October as they won six consecutive matches in all competitions, although the Blues have won just twice in the last eight matches and Roman Abramovich decided the best thing would be to axe Roberto Di Matteo as manager.
The damage already appears to have been done in the Champions League although the instalment of Rafael Benitez as interim manager has the potential to give Chelsea new impetus and a victory over Manchester City on Sunday would get the London club right back in the title hunt after finishing way off the pace last season.
Chelsea are marginal favourites at 13/8 (Ladbrokes free bets) to claim victory against a Manchester City team who are also heading out of the Champions League following Wednesday’s 1-1 draw with Real Madrid which means that Roberto Mancini’s side have failed to claim a single victory in Europe this season.
However, City are top of the Premier League table and come into this game with an unbeaten record, with the champions having come from behind on a number of occasions this term to claim victory.
The visitors have generally kept things tight on the road this season with two wins and three draws – just twelve goals have been scored in these five matches and we are surely likely to see a cagey encounter on Sunday afternoon with Under 2.5 Goals looking a very big price considering Benitez has a reputation for defensive football.
Manchester City know that a victory at the Bridge would leave their opponents’ title hopes dangling by a thread and you can get 9/5 about the away win for this Sky-televised encounter, with the team looking to bounce back from their latest Champions League setback.
Tottenham Hotspur v West Ham 16.00
Many Spurs supporters had already left the Emirates Stadium before Theo Walcott scored that final goal for Arsenal last weekend and that result means that Tottenham are eighth in the table after a topsy-turvy start which has seen them win five and lose five of their twelve Premier League matches.
Andre Villas-Boas is still finding his feet at White Hart Lane after replacing Harry Redknapp in the summer, although the aim is to clearly challenge for a place in the Premier League top four and they currently sit six points off the pace after three consecutive defeats.
Spurs are a best price 7/10 (William Hill free bets) to bounce back against a Hammers side that have made a bright start to the campaign, with AVB opting to play a strong team for Thursday’s goalless draw at Lazio despite Liverpool and Newcastle deciding against this strategy in the Europa League.
Emmanuel Adebayor will be suspended for the match, although Jermain Defoe will line up against one of his former clubs and he’s the 9/2 favourite (Coral bookmaker) to score the first of this match, while Gareth Bale is looking in great form and can be backed at 13/2.
As for West Ham, they will believe they can get a victory out of this London derby considering they recently won at Newcastle and the Hammers also claimed victory at Loftus Road earlier this season.
Odds of 5/1 are available that Spurs suffer their fourth consecutive defeat and that would really see pressure heaped on the shoulders of Villas-Boas who will have noted that Redknapp is set to return to Premier League management with QPR in the next few days.