Chelsea's Eden Hazard says the fitness of Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany could prove vital in the Premier League meeting at Stamford Bridge this weekend.
Despite suffering early season defeats to Everton and Aston Villa respectively, both Chelsea and City head into the game on Sunday having won their last two league games as well as securing impressive away victories in the Champions League in mid-week.
With leaders Arsenal expected to beat Crystal Palace in the Saturday lunchtime kick-off, neither side will be keen to lose ground with just less than a quarter of the season gone and Hazard expects a that game with fine margins could hinge on the fitness of City's influencial skipper.
"Kompany is really important for City because when he plays they win and when he doesn't play they lose, often," said Hazard.
"We know his quality and we're lucky to have him in the Belgium team. I prefer to play with players like that than against them."
Hazard knows first hand the significance of Kompany while on international duty with Belgim, and both players will prove significant come next summer's World Cup finals in Brazil.
Kompany's recent fitness problems, which revolved around a groin strain, forced him out of City's wins over West Ham United and CSKA Moscow and make him a doubt for the visit to west London.
Chelsea meanwhile follow the game against City with the League Cup tie against Arsenal before a tough trip to St James' Park to face Newcastle United.
And Hazard hopes by next week Chelsea will still be fighting on all fronts.
"We are playing well at the moment and are in form," added Hazard. "We have won at Norwich, we won at home against Cardiff. We have got a good dynamic. I hope we can continue like this because this weekend we have another big, important match.
"Our role is to try to stay in the title race at the top of the table, win and carry on our way to the Arsenal game."