David Silva believes that on current form, and the way they have started the season, Arsenal and Liverpool have to be considered among the favourites for the title. In addition to Manchester City, of course, and not forgetting Sunday's opponents at Stamford Bridge. "I'm sure Chelsea will be fighting it out for the title as the season progresses," Silva says. "This game is very important, it could be quite decisive. We have never won at Chelsea since I came to City, but we'll be doing everything we can to end that run. Stats are made to be broken, though Chelsea are very strong at home. They are a good side anyway, but even stronger at home."

City's Spanish forward remembers José Mourinho from his first stint as Chelsea manager, when he was playing for Valencia and the two clubs met in the Champions League. He also came up against his Real Madrid side last season in the same competition, when City managed to get into a winning position at the Bernabéu only to be pegged back by two late goals.

"Mourinho always sets his team up to be hard to beat," he says. "If you play one of his sides you know you will be up against difficult opponents.

"Whatever game you play in you only get three points, but some games are more important or more difficult than others, and sometimes the points are worth six if you are playing a team like Chelsea. So you kind of prepare more. We have actually been finding our away form a bit of a struggle this season, and we have not had the best luck in the world either, but now we have managed a couple of away victories that will hopefully set the tone for the rest of the season."

At Stamford Bridge Silva will be able to renew acquaintance with his old Valencia team-mate Juan Mata, a fellow Spain international whom Mourinho initially appeared to mistrust but who has now regained his place in the side. "To be honest, it did surprise me when he was dropped but I don't think I was the only person who was surprised," he says. "He is a top, top player and he has brought a lot to Chelsea in the time he has been with them.

"As well as the time we spent playing together at Valencia we were mates before that, and as well as being a great player Juan is a really nice guy. It was a surprise that he wasn't playing but he was soon back in the ranks, proving what he can do."

It says a lot about Spain's strength in depth that neither Silva nor Mata started their past couple of internationals, though the City player is philosophical about the situation. "We are well off for quality players in Spain," he says matter-of-factly. "Juan and I are just two players in the squad. When we do get an opportunity we feel we have to keep on proving to the manager that we are ready and prepared, but we can't complain. Things are going well. We have managed to win one or two trophies."

Make that the past three international tournaments, actually. Silva is just being modest about his haul of a World Cup and two European Championships.

A Premier League title with City already in the bag, his thoughts now turn to the Champions League, where progress was made in Moscow in midweek, even if Bayern Munich showed in the previous round of games how far Manuel Pellegrini's players still have to go.

"The Champions League is the trophy I've not won yet," Silva says. "Hopefully I'll get a chance to win it before I retire. That's the real motivation, but for City in the last couple of years the main objective was getting to the knockout stage. We've had difficult groups and not managed to get out of them, but we are in the driving seat to qualify now. But it would be great to win the Premier League again as well."

City were many people's favourites to win the league this season, before they made a somewhat uncertain start. Silva puts that down to the changes made over summer, a new manager and a few new signings. "When you have changes, things take time to bed in," he says. "In football you don't get much time, that's the one thing you haven't got. You are expected to be right at the top from the very beginning, but it does take time sometimes.

"The manager likes to play an open, attacking style of football, and that suits me very well. There is still room for improvement. I think we need to maybe become a tighter unit, but things are heading in the right direction. Manuel Pellegrini is very calm and relaxed, and doesn't tend to lose his temper. There are moments of tension, and anyone can react in a game situation, in the heat of the moment, but certainly he's a calm guy. The style in which we play suits the players we have in the team. It is nice to have an objective and a clear idea of what the manager is trying to achieve."

City are not the only club in Manchester with a new manager but Silva does not expect the neighbours to spend the whole season hanging around in mid-table. "Although they have not had the best of starts, I believe United will be involved in the shake-up at the end of the season," he says.

"Though on current form, you have to say Arsenal and Liverpool have a chance too. One thing that will count in Liverpool's favour is that they don't have any European commitments, which gives a freshness to their league campaign. They just play at weekends."