Thanks for reading and commenting. We leave you with some news about how man-of-the-people David Cameron has stepped in to help football fans who like a tipple. Enjoy the match tonight.

madhavtipu asks for a prediction:

Guardian staff

City to win 1-0

But I'm useless with predictions. I nominated Nicolas Anelka in the 'best signing' category pre-season . .

And on that low note, apologies for not getting back to everyone. The questions come quicker than the answers, I'm afraid. Enjoy the match.

chuckyg asks:

Is Ashley Cole going to Brazil or watching at home
Guardian staff

Two or three months ago, I'd have said yes and as the first-choice.

I still think he will be there - Hodgson is a big admirer and pretty loyal to that core of players who have seen him through the qualifiers - but I don't see how Cole can keep Baines out of the team if he cannot even get into his own side.

The home game against Man United was telling for me - Ivanovic had been injured and Azpilicueta was filling in at right-back, then as soon as Ivanovic was fit again Cole was out of the team again and Azpilicueta was switched back on the left. That was a fairly clear message to Cole that he's now, officially, second-choice (to a right-back). It will be interesting to see what he does next because there's also a good chance Luke Shaw will be joining Chelsea in the summer.

It's certainly all happened very quickly. It was only September that England played in Kiev and Cole was the first player Hodgson picked out afterwards for praise.

Cavelier5 asks:

Was José really handing out the bubbly to journos at a recent press conference? He's got absolutely no shame has he?

Guardian staff

In fairness, I've seen similar at a few press conferences, including United/City (though usually after winning trophies)

It was his birthday and he'd heard that last season Benitez handed out a selection of cakes (!) when it was his last season. Mourinho obviously wanted to go one better.

It doesn't help hugely because people outside the media see it as a bribe - ie 'look, see what I do for you, now be nice to me'. I don't see it that way myself, but I can understand how it comes across.

DanSol asks:

This is purely based on a straw poll of about 20 neutrals, but it seems to me that people are far more positively inclined towards City rather than Chelsea, despite both being billionaire-backed. Do you think this is because of historical antipathy towards Chelsea (or London) or just because Mourinho is, well, completely unlikable?

Guardian staff

I'd imagine that's more because City have played the best football so far this season and, deep down, that's what matters most to neutrals. For example, no other team - not even Arsenal - have played like that first 30 minutes at Spurs the other night. People like it, whereas you just have to look through the number of comments about Mourinho parking the bus etc etc . .

Interesting mention of 'historical antipathy towards Chelsea (or London)' though . . there are City fans who are, and always be, convinced the media's antipathy is all directed towards them. I'm not sure these things exist at all but I'll never win that argument (I've tried, believe me).

Shane88 asks:

As an Arsenal fan, I want to see a Manchester City win, as I believe a loss for Chelsea will effectively reduce the league to a two-horse race. Do you agree that a Chelsea loss will cast them adrift of Arsenal and City?

Guardian staff

I think it's a better result for Arsenal if it's a draw

If City win, looking at their next six games, they go back to the top and they stay there, in my opinion.

Jontijonti asks about Roberto Mancini:

Guardian staff

jontijonti
03 February 2014 1:27pm

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Daniel, which team do you think Mancini will be cheering on?

Now that's a good question . .

Mancini's a hard, proud man. He won't have enjoyed the improvement in City over the last few months but he's also streetwise and he knows how football works.

I liked Mancini and I've found it frustrating that people think there was a deliberate smear campaign against him when he left. City last season was a very unhappy place and, if anything, worse than people realised at the time (Mancini thought about taking the captaincy off Vincent Kompany at one point!). His judgment was all over the place. I just think he'd lost form - which managers can do, as well as players. But there isn't an ounce of him that will think he did anything wrong.

To answer your question in a wishy-washy way, I'd imagine he will have his business head on and his only concern will be getting a scouting report of Chelsea for Galatasaray

Guardiansystemssuck asks about Mourinho and the press:

Guardian staff

guardiansystemssuck
03 February 2014 1:26pm

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Why do you think the UK press not pick up on Mourinho's hypocrisy and outright mistruths more often?
He's not even very entertaining any more so I can't believe that sucking up to him is really selling many newspapers

Hi there, erm, Guardiansystemssuck

It's funny because a lot of Chelsea fans think Mourinho gets awful press, and he often does

Non-Chelsea fans tend to think he gets brilliant press, and he often does

I think there are plenty of journalists who point out both the good and the bad. You don't have to look too hard to realise there are plenty of writers who tired of his double standards long ago. Personally, I find him always interesting, whether I agree with him or not.

Vidvans asks about City's strength in depth:

Guardian staff

vidvans
03 February 2014 1:17pm

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As much as everyone raves about City...I do think that if Kompany and Yaya Toure got injured they'd melt back into the top 4 quickly rather than stroll away with the league...is this unreasonable? I just don't think they're as all-powerful in all positions as is mooted. Arsenal have a better midfield, definitely.

Kompany has picked up a few injuries and it does make a difference. Toure is just a machine. He rarely misses a game.

Pellegrini seems to agree with you, judging by his attempts to sign Fernando and Mangala. But I think it would a proper, full-blown injury crisis, rather than just a couple of important players, to derail them properly. Take out Toure and replace him with a more defence-minded midfielder such as Milner/Garcia/Rodwell . . it's a drop in standard obviously but it just gives Fernandinho the licence to get further forward and there's still all the goals from Aguero, Silva, Nasri, Negredo, Dzeko etc (if fit). Plus Toure - as Dietmar Hamann pointed out on MOTD - is not excellent at tracking runners in that holding midfield role.

Arsenal's problem is pretty obvious. Wenger has great quality in midfield but Walcott is out for the season and the reliance of Giroud is too much. I'm surprised he didn't ask about Berbatov.

Herbert1313 asks about José Mourinho's tactics:

Guardian staff

Herbert1313
03 February 2014 12:53pm


Hi Daniel,
In your opinion do you think Mourinho will park the bus as he did like in his away game at Arsenal or will he attempt to play a more free-flowing game?

I've always thought it gets exaggerated that Mourinho's teams are dour/unimaginative. It's not how I remember his Real Madrid, for example, or the title wins at Chelsea. But yes, obviously there have been two stand-out occasions this season when their motive has been obvious: not to get beaten.

Maybe it's wishful thinking, but I wonder if tonight they might have to show a bit more adventure.

City's next six games are against Norwich (15th), Sunderland (14th), Stoke (11th), Aston Villa (10th), Hull (13th) and Fulham (20th). This isn't a team that is going to drop many points between now and late-March. So this is an opportunity for Chelsea to harm them.

I also think City's one weakness is probably in defence (not a huge weakness, I know, but Demichelis has a mistake in him, for example)

Chuckg asks about Uefa's Financial Fair Play regulations:

Guardian staff

chuckyg
03 February 2014 1:03pm

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Good morning Daniel,
Although i hate to agree with Moh do you think its unfair how Man City and PSG seem to be bypassing FFP?

They're using every little trick to get past them and it's fairly obvious what's happening. Yet I made the point the other day there's also a lot of hypocrisy going on. The top clubs wanted to pull down the shutters and keep them out because of their own self-serving interests. Yet they just about all got to the top, in some form, because of huge expenditure of their own. In fact, show me a club in England over the last 20 or so years whose success isn't heavily aligned to money spent.

It's probably not fair what City/PSG are doing, but I'm not sure it was fair in the first place trying to exclude them from the party.

Football clubs have always benefited from rich owners, whether we like it or not. It's just a fact of football life, but in this case the top clubs wanted to keep it as a closed shop.

Chocolatbear asks about Edin Dzeko:

Guardian staff

chocolatbear said:
Hi Daniel. In your opinion, how good is Dzeko? I know that he scores almost everytime he plays, but he's clearly not as talented as Aguero, or indeed Negredo. Do you think, for example, he'd score a lot if he went to a club that didn't produce as many chances? Whenever I watch Dzeko, he seems to miss more than he scores, and he seems to squander opportunities. I'm just wondering if he were in a lower-placed, or less talented, team, say Newcastle or Manchester United, would he still score a few goals a season? Also, I've recently put him into my fantasy team and could use a bit of morale-boosting ahead of tonight. Thanks


Mourinho's reply was interesting when he was asked on Friday about which players at City had impressed him the most.

"The two midfield players have always played well, so [Yaya] Touré and Fernandinho. I think the third striker is very, very good. [Edin] Dzeko, every time he plays, plays very, very well. The wingers are good, the full-backs … they're complete, they have everything."

I wouldn't ordinarily have imagined Dzeko would be named in the top ten and it makes me wonder - and this is a huge leap of logic, I admit - whether he's thought about trying for Dzeko in the summer. Dzeko really dislikes not being a first-choice and, in a season of new harmony post-Mancini, that's been one of the few issues behind the scenes.

A personal opinion is that he's never going to be the player he wants to be at City. Aguero is better, Negredo is better - Dzeko will have purple patches and his scoring ratio is very good, but he can be careless in the extreme and it stands out in a team with this much refinement.

Danny will be here from 1pm

Good afternoon. Danny will be here from 1pm to answer your questions, but in the meantime here are some of our previews for tonight's match:

• José Mourinho says Chelsea 'can't compete' with City's cash

José Mourinho has admitted it is impossible for Chelsea to compete financially with Manchester City since the introduction of the financial fair play rules. Chelsea were the biggest English spenders during the January transfer window but their outlay of £45m was more than covered by the sales of Juan Mata and Kevin de Bruyne for a combined £55m. They had aspired to sign the Porto centre-half Eliaquim Mangala but were unwilling to risk their compliance with Uefa's regulations by sanctioning an outlay of around £37m. City are expected to pursue that deal in the summer. Continue reading

• José Mourinho takes swipe at miscalculating Manuel Pellegrini

José Mourinho has reignited a simmering rivalry with Manuel Pellegrini by mocking the Manchester City manager's faux pas in the Champions League earlier in the season, when the Chilean failed to realise that his side could have topped their group with a single goal. City were leading Bayern Munich 3-2 in Germany in December and would have qualified as group winners on goal difference had they added a fourth. However, Pellegrini has since apologised for being unaware of the mathematical permutations, bringing on Jack Rodwell in the closing stages of the match. Continue reading

• Manchester City change skyline of the city as they leave the past behind

The football landscape in Manchester is changing. Just head through the eastern part of town, along Alan Turing Way, and a new stadium is starting to thrust skywards directly opposite Manchester City's ground, in the same way that Mini Estadi nestles beside the Camp Nou. The Etihad Campus, City's new training complex, will be operating within six months, with a 7,000-seat stadium as its focal point. The difference with Barcelona is the 80 acres of spare land that City have for development around it, now a frenzy of hard hats and scaffolding operating to the designs of Rafael Viñoly, the Uruguayan architect whose portfolio includes Jongno Tower in Seoul, Carrasco international airport in Montevideo and various additions to the skylines of New York, Tokyo and Los Angeles, among others. Continue reading

And if you want to read about something completely different, here is Michael Moruzzi from When Saturday Comes writing about how analysing football through statistics kills the joy of the game.

Drop your questions in the comments sections below. Enjoy the webchat.