For the last five years in England, blue has been the winning colour, with both Chelsea and Manchester City claiming two titles each in between Leicester City’s unthinkable 2014/15 campaign. Now, with the two heavyweight giants squaring up this weekend, both in their blue corners, we could be in store for another epic showdown. Manchester City have shown no signs of slowing down in their pursuit of defending their league title, while Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea have somewhat forced their way into the conversation, jumping into third spot last weekend.
Chelsea vs Manchester City
Saturday 8 December
Manchester City 17/20
Chelsea will be looking to make a statement of intent and convince their doubters that they are in this league to win it when they face a rampant Manchester City outfit. The Blues have done very little wrong this season and have climbed up into third spot after their derby win over Fulham.
But Sarri is not getting carried away, and still persists that there is one team above the rest in England – which is this weekend’s opponents, Manchester City.
“For me they are stronger than us.
“We have to work very hard just to try to recover the gap, but at the moment the gap is still there.
“In the Premier League, there is a team above the others. This team is Manchester City,” Sarri said.
A fair statement from the former Napoli boss, and one I tend to agree with. The Blues are still some way off of the top of the table – but getting back in the UEFA Champions League seems a much more realistic target.
Chelsea don’t have an out-and-out goalscorer, like their top rivals in the league, but what the Blues do possess is an Eden Hazard. The Belgian wizard has been a marvel to watch at times this season and is on course to break his personal tally of 16 goals for the season – set back in 2016/17.
The City backline hasn’t shown much signs of frailty, but Hazard will be hoping to turn the fortunes around and inspire his Chelsea side to victory this Saturday.
What could be Chelsea’s downfall at the weekend is getting the position of N’Golo Kante and Jorginho wrong. It seems to be a debate we cannot ignore in recent weeks, with teams now knowing that everything comes through the Italian.
On the ball, Sarri’s men look brilliant, but without it, a side of City’s calibre could make them look ordinary. Kante has won two league titles and a FIFA World Cup in his natural position, but it seems Sarri has opted for a more technically gifted footballer in the defensive midfield role.
If Kante plays his natural position, City’s attack could then look ordinary.
It’s not very often that you see the visiting side as overwhelming favourites at Stamford Bridge, but that should give you an indication as to how far Pep Guardiola has taken this Manchester City team. The Citizens ran away with the title last season, and as frightening as it may seem, the club have arguably improved from last campaign.
City sit clear atop the table and will be looking to keep up their recent impressive form against Chelsea – winning on the last three occasions – including a 2-0 victory in this season’s FA Community Shield.
City, however, could be without star-striker, Sergio Aguero, who missed out last weekend due to injury, but Guardiola has already had the luxury of rotating his star players and perhaps the absence of Aguero will not be a major factor.
David Silva, Kyle Walker and Riyad Mahrez were all on the bench last weekend, while Benjamin Mendy and Kevin De Bruyne are also still out with injuries. Their strength in depth is scary and Guardiola has kept all his players fresh and adjusted to his system, so while nobody is guaranteed a place in the line-up, every single one of those players are up for it.
If the league had to end now, big debates would surface about who has been City’s star performer this season. Raheem Sterling has been exceptional with eight goals and six assists to his name before midweek’s fixtures, while the two Silvas – Bernardo and David – have been immense in De Bruyne’s absence.
Manchester City have already gone to the Emirates Stadium, Wembley and Anfield and have not conceded a goal, so as brilliant as their attack has been, the back four in front of Ederson deserve massive credit.
Kepa; Azpilicueta, Luiz, Rudiger, Alonso; Jorginho, Kante, Kovacic; Pedro, Giroud, Hazard.
Manchester City: 4-3-3
Ederson; Walker, Stones, Laporte, Delph; Fernandinho, David Silva, Bernardo Silva; Sterling, Gabriel Jesus, Sane.
Prediction: Manchester City (17/20)
Guardiola’s men have been impressive this season and are full value for the win here. In many ways, Sarri’s system is similar to that of the Spaniard’s, which could favour the more experienced boss in this one. Aymeric Laporte is still yet to lose a Premier League game in a Manchester City shirt, and not only am I expecting that run to continue, but a victory is also on the cards for the champions.
Written by Jesse Nagel
Short term investment plans advice