MANCHESTER — Chelsea has had an eight-point lead in the English Premier League wiped out by title rival Manchester City once already this season.
Don't expect it to happen again.
That means all the pressure will be on City when the defending champions travel to Stamford Bridge on Saturday, looking to avoid a loss to Chelsea that would restore the eight-point gap with 15 games remaining.
In fact, for City manager Manuel Pellegrini, only a victory will do.
"We must close the gap to two points," Pellegrini said of the biggest match of the season so far.
Having worked so hard in December to get back on level terms with Chelsea, City has allowed its rival to pull five points clear in the title race after drawing at Everton and losing at home to Arsenal in its last two league games. Throw in a home loss to second-tier Middlesbrough in the FA Cup last weekend and City's form has plummeted — despite star striker Sergio Aguero being back in the team after injury.
Also read: Chelsea pair face fitness race for Man City clash
Chelsea was also humbled in the FA Cup on Saturday — by third-tier Bradford — but recovered quickly by beating Liverpool on Tuesday to reach the League Cup final.
That win was marred, however, by Chelsea striker Diego Costa stamping on an opponent's leg, leaving the Spain international facing a three-game ban that would rule him out of the City fixture.
With question marks also hanging over the fitness of key center midfielder Cesc Fabregas, who came off with a hamstring injury against Liverpool, Chelsea could be without arguably its two best players this season.
Here are some other things to know about the 23rd round of matches in the Premier League:
NO IVORIANS FOR CITY
Ivory Coast's progress to the knockout stage of the African Cup of Nations on Wednesday was bad news for City.
It dashed any faint hopes the champions had of having star midfielder Yaya Toure and new signing Wilfried Bony available for the game against Chelsea.
City hasn't won since Toure, the team's driving force in midfield and a regular source of goals, left for international duty.
With Aguero searching for full fitness after more than a month out injured, goals have suddenly become a problem for City, which has scored only once in three games.For the latest on national news, politics, sport, entertainment and more follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook page.