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Let's step it up today, calls Hughes

City have it in them to test league leaders Chelsea to the limit today, in Mark Hughes' opinion.

The sky blues' record against the sides that regularly occupy the top four slots in the Barclays Premier League table at the end of the season reads won one, lost one and drawn one in the 2009/10 league campaign so far.

Factoring in that City were just seconds away from a point at Old Trafford for the season's only defeat, and another fine win over Arsenal in the Carling Cup this week, and there is a mood of confidence around the camp ahead of today's tea-time clash.

On the other hand, City have not beaten Chelsea since 2004/05 but Hughes sees his remodelled side as a real threat to the Stamford Bridge machine and is dismissive of the traditional notion of a 'bogey team'.

"They're a bogey team to many teams!" Mark laughs. "They have had a spell of success in recent times that's very impressive and a lot of teams have had a lot of problems with Chelsea in the past. This is a huge game and we are looking forward to it, it will be a test for us but it will certainly be a test for Chelsea, I'm sure they are thinking that way.

"We ran United very close, we view a draw at Anfield as a positive and we have beaten Arsenal twice. The next one up is Chelsea, and we want to test ourselves against a 'big four' side again. We have not been found wanting against them so far, and I am looking to build on the level we produced on Wednesday. If we do that we will run Chelsea very, very close."

Today's visitors have hit an ominous run of form and have not conceded in the league since their defeat at Aston Villa earlier in the season, so does Mark agree with the notion that Chelsea are the best side in the country at the moment?


We have not been found wanting against the top four sides so far, and I am looking to build on the level we produced on Wednesday. If we do that we will run Chelsea very, very close.

...Mark Hughes on Chelsea test...


"At this moment in time? Yes, without a shadow of a doubt," he asserts. "Defensively they are rock-solid, they have always had a real goal-scoring threat but with the way they shape up with the four in midfield makes them really difficult to break down.

"If you get past the shield of that defensive diamond, then you still have to overcome John Terry and his mates! It's not easy, but we feel our strength is to attack teams and that's what we will look to do.

"You need a defensive platform to enable you to go on the offensive, which is what we will strive to do and it's important that we continue in the same vein as we did on Wednesday. There's no reason why we can't."

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