Mark Hughes believes Chelsea are England's undisputed number one at present.
With Carlo Ancelotti's diamond formation in midfield proving to be far more durable than many experts thought before the season began, Chelsea have taken a firm grip of the Premier League.
And, while City look to inflict some damage on the Londoners at Eastlands today, Hughes feels they are firm favourites for the title.
“At this current time Chelsea, without a shadow of a doubt, are the best team in the country,” said Hughes. “Defensively they are rock solid and they have always had a real goalscoring threat.
“But the way they shape up now, with the four guys in midfield, makes them really difficult to break down.
“Even if you get past the shield of the defensive diamond you still have to overcome John Terry and his mates, which is not easy.”
City beat a young Arsenal side in the Carling Cup on Wednesday and Hughes is looking for more of them same today.
“It is important we continue in the same vein as Wednesday because you have to give yourself a chance to win games,” he said.
“If you are not competing defensively you can go under very quickly.
“You must have that defensive platform to allow you to cause the opposition problems. That is what we will strive to do.”