A COUPLE of weeks ago bookies looked ready to pay out on Chelsea to win the title – but five wins a row have cast doubts over Jose Mourinho's side's ability to stay at the summit.
Just when his men were looking invincible they lost at Newcastle and that's given sides such as City a bit of hope going into the hectic festive season.
Chelsea travel to Stoke on Monday night trying to put some daylight between themselves and City. There's no getting away from the fact this will be a test for Mourinho's men who will need to be in the right frame of mind for a battle on what's forecast to be a miserable night.
The Blues have lost just one of 12 Premier League encounters with Stoke – so they cope better than the opposition than the likes of Arsenal – although they went down there 3-2 defeat last season.
Mark Hughes's men rumbled up Arsenal once again a few weeks ago – leading 3-0 before hanging on to a 3-2 win – but they're unlikely to bully Chelsea into submission.
Chelsea should pick up the points but are no bigger than 13-20 at McBookie so best bet for me is Diego Costa to score at any time at 1-1 with boylesports.
The Spanish international wouldn't look out of place in the Stoke side as he plays in a no-holds barred style. The likes of centre-half Ryan Shawcross won't roll him over and Costa is worth a look at 7-2 with McBookie to score first.
It could be fiery and a red card in the match pays 17-5 at William Hill.
Costa to score
Red card in match
(17-5, William Hill)