While City manager Roberto Mancini has refused to concede the title fight, a 15-point stretch could be too much of a gulf for City to handle, while the Blues aim to remain in the top four with Tottenham Hotspur breathing down their necks.
The league rivals, who played out a goalless draw in the reverse fixture at Stamford Bridge in November, head into the contest on the back of the exact same form of three wins, one defeat and two draws in their last six league outings.
City are expected to welcome back Joe Hart, Gael Clichy and Edin Dzeko after they missed out on featuring in the club's 4-0 win over Leeds United in the FA Cup, while Chelsea interim boss Rafael Benitez could opt for Demba Ba up top in place of Fernando Torres.
Manchester City: LDDWW
Possible starting lineups
Manchester City: Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasic, Clichy; Toure, Garcia; Silva, Aguero, Milner; Dzeko
Chelsea: Cech; Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Cahill, Cole; Lampard, Ramires; Mata, Hazard, Moses; Ba
Sports Mole says: 1-2