Manchester City vs Chelsea
Venue: Etihad Arena
Referee: Mike Dean
TV: Sky Sports Main Event
The biggest clash of the weekend comes at the Etihad where a rejuvenated Manchester City host an inconsistent Chelsea side. The Citizens will be hoping to ensure that their new position at the top of the league is strengthened whilst the visitors will be intent on ensuring that they stick in the top four.
Pep Guardiola’s men had a little blip, at least by their own lofty high standards, around New Year allowing Liverpool to overtake them and gain a seven-point lead at the top of the table. However since then, City have come bursting back into form and despite Liverpool having a game in hand, they have overtaken Klopp’s men and a win this weekend would be a real statement of intent.
Chelsea on the other hand have been seriously inconsistent in recent weeks. They scored five against Huddersfield last time out but have also recently conceded four to Bournemouth and lost out to Arsenal. The one big positive however will be the form of Gonzalo Higuain who scored two very impressive goals on his Premier League debut so it remains to be seen how he will go against the league’s best team.
Manchester City: Manchester City will have a pretty much fully fit first XI from which to pick from on Sunday; Mendy is a doubt but may be fit enough to start on the bench and Vincent Kompany is still injured but their regular first teamers should all be ready to play.
City will be confident of having enough firepower to get through Chelsea’s defence. With Aguero and Sterling in incredible form and Bernardo Silva excellent as always, all three being supplied by De Bruyne and David Silva in the midfield, City’s incredible attacking force should have enough.
The question however is whether their defence has enough to keep Chelsea at bay. Higuain and Hazard look set to start again and Stones and Otamendi will for sure be tested. Walker too will have his defensive positioning tested with Hazard running straight at him down the left for Chelsea.
Chelsea: Chelsea also have a fully fit squad from which to pick and therefore the questions around who takes the third attacking slot and the third midfield spot remain. Kante and Jorgino are certainties to start but the competition is between Barkley and Loftus-Cheek for the left-hand side of the three. However, there has been talk in recent days that Sarri may look to be more defensive and could in fact push Jorginho out to the left and slot Ethan Ampadu in the centre to sit just in front of the back four.
Up towards the other end of the pitch, Higuaín has started life at Chelsea very well with early signs showing that the partnership between himself and Hazard has the potential to be a very threatening one. The question still is over who starts out of Pedro, Willian or Hudson-Odoi. The latter has yet to feature since his move to Bayern failed to materialize, but perhaps this week against City is his time?
That does seem unlikely however and the money would be on Willian to start as he has done so far this season, and for Pedro to be the one on the bench, not the young Englishman.
Predicted Starting XIs
Manchester City (4-3-3): Ederson; Walker, Stones, Otamendi, Laporte; De Bruyne, Fernandinho, Silva; B.Silva, Aguero, Sterling
Chelsea (4-3-3): Kepa; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Alonso; Kante, Jorginho, Barkley; Willian, Higuain, Hazard
Score Prediction: Manchester City 2 Chelsea 1
I think City will be just too strong for Chelsea on this occasion. In the past the West London side have sat in and defended for 90 minutes but I don’t think they will be able to keep that up this time out. Aguero loves to score against Chelsea so I think two from him and a consolation from Higuain will give City the three points.