The ultimate destination of the title could be decided at Stamford Bridge on Saturday as two titans square off in this Premier League clash between Chelsea and Manchester City.
Group EPL Stamford Bridge, Fulham, England
Key Stat: City have won each of the past three meetings, keeping clean sheets each time.
Expert Verdict: Some sloppy finishing could have cost City on another day in their outing against Watford on Tuesday, and they will have to know they can't take that for granted against the Blues. With so much on the line, Chelsea have been ahead of schedule so far under Sarri. However, they most likely can't even get themselves back into the title race with a win over City. With that said, it's just hard to see them beating the Citizens at their own game. They'll fall short, taken advantage of by the tactical genius of Guardiola and an extra day for the visitors to prepare.
Maurizio Sarri has a few injuries right now to deal with. Midfielder Ross Barkley is the big one, while wing back Victor Moses, who has no real place in the squad, is also out.
Chelsea won’t be happy that they lost to Wolves on Wednesday, but they will be happy to see Ruben Loftus-Cheek making the most of his run in the team currently. The English midfielder got another goal to add to his tally in the loss, and will hope to lock down a regular place in the side with more of the same. Eden Hazard is a second man to watch. The Belgian gets a lot of flack for his lack of goal scoring at times, but he shouldn’t because he drives and controls this Blues team and would be sorely missed if he was suddenly gone from it.
Chelsea have two losses, two wins, and a draw in their last five matches:
2-1 loss at Wolves
2-0 home win vs Fulham
4-0 home win vs PAOK (UEL)
3-1 loss at Tottenham
0-0 home draw vs Everton
Defenders:Azpilicueta, Rudiger, David Luiz, Alonso
Midfielders:Kante, Kovacic, Loftus-Cheek
Forwards:Hazard, Pedro, Giroud
Pep Guardiola is missing a few big names, yet his side keeps on rolling. Both striker Sergio Aguero and defender Vincent Kompany are a doubt to play, with Aguero looking more likely from first glance. Left back Benjamin Mendy is out still, along with youngster Oleksandr Zinchenko there. Kevin De Bruyne, their midfield lynchpin, is still out as well.
Guardiola was looking at this match and prepared smartly by resting a couple of players. One of them was Raheem Sterling, who will be fresh and ready to run at a beleaguered Chelsea full back core. Sterling has eight goals and six assists already in a captivating season and can take the game to a much slower back line. Ilkay Gundogan is the other to watch after he was rested. The former Dortmund man can bring the energy, silk, and steel needed to press the Blues into submission in the middle of the park.
City have four wins and a draw in their last five matches:
1-2 win at Watford
3-1 home win vs Bournemouth
2-2 draw at Lyon (UCL)
0-4 win at West Ham
3-1 home win vs Manchester United
Defenders:Walker, Stones, Laporte, Delph
Midfielders:Gundogan, Fernandinho, David Silva
Forwards:Sterling, Sane, Aguero
Across 145 meetings, Chelsea have the edge over Manchester City. The Blues have won 57 times, lost 50 times, and drawn with the Citizens 38 times. Here's a look at the last five results:
Aug 5, 2018: Chelsea 0-2 City (Community Shield)
Mar 4, 2018: City 1-0 Chelsea
Sep 30, 2017: Chelsea 0-1 City
Apr 5, 2017: Chelsea 2-1 City
Dec 3, 2016: City 1-3 Chelsea
Bet365 have the following odds available for this match:
Chelsea are at 3/1 to win, a draw is at 11/4, and a Man City win is at 5/6.
Chelsea will feel let down by after they lost on Wednesday to Wolves, leaving them on 31 points in fourth place now, a full ten behind City now. It looks like they are out of the title race at this stage, and only a win here and some help from Liverpool and City would see them back in within half of a chance. Now, they are in a battle with rivals Arsenal and Tottenham for two places in the Champions League, a far cry from where they were a couple of weeks ago. City, meanwhile, are sitting top of the table after their narrow win at Watford on Tuesday. With an extra day to prepare, they should feel better about their chances against Chelsea, and they will know they have to win in order to keep their two point gap over also unbeaten Liverpool behind them.
At home, Chelsea have yet to lose this season, racking up a total of 18 points from five wins and three draws. The worry, though, is that all three draws have come in their last five games at the Bridge, and that it could end up costing them a place in the top four if they don’t get better there. City, meanwhile, have been exquisite away from home, winning five times and drawing twice to date. The Citizens have won three in a row on their travels and four of their last five and will come into this match with a lot of momentum behind them as they seek to further improve that record.
Both teams scoring is at 4/7 at Ladbrokes.
Aguero to score first is at 4.5 at Betfair.
Chelsea have played a totally different style of football this term under Sarri, and that is bound to pay off eventually for them. However, that pressing and passing can and will cost them against the Citizens, who are just much more used to the playing style.