This weekend will see arguably the first headline fixture of the Premier League season to date. It is a matchup of two of the strongest contenders for the Premier League title against one another. Defenders Chelsea entertain challengers Manchester City at Stamford Bridge, the current home of the PL crown.
With all the focus on Mourinho, Pep Guardiola and the supposed two-way battle in Manchester, the start that Chelsea have made to their domestic and European campaign, has gone under the radar. The Blues—after a disappointing opening day defeat at home—have bounced back spectacularly. Manager Antonio Conte quietly and successfully got his act together to present a strong defence for the league title.
In the last few years, both Chelsea and Man City have enjoyed great success in the Premier League. That has often come at the cost of tense title races battled right to the very end. This season looks to be no different. The home side, Chelsea, are without a defeat in the last 5 games in the Premier League. They will go into this game in fine fettle following a fantastic UCL win against Atletico Madrid in midweek.
For City, this is an opportunity to truly lay down a marker. Pep Guardiola’s side remain unbeaten in the league and are scoring goals for fun. The side currently top the league table for goals scored. That’s no surprise for a team that can bring the likes of Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva from the bench. City are littered with attacking prowess and playing under a manager who loves nothing more than controlling the football match with the ball. Guardiola’s aim is to dictate play from start to finish, scoring loads of goals along the way. At the moment City are doing all of that.
The visitors have had mixed results at Stamford Bridge in recent years – having won only once in five games in all competitions, a comprehensive 3-0 win towards the back end of 2015/16 but also lost 5-1 in the FA Cup two months prior. Chelsea did the double last season over Man City on their way to a second league title in three years but it will be interesting to see if a similar result is on the cards, come Saturday.
Chelsea will miss David Luiz through suspension while midfielder Danny Drinkwater is still sidelined. Pedro is expected to be reinstated after the Spanish forward missed the Blues’ win over Atletico Madrid on Wednesday.
City suffered a huge blow in the form of a long-term injury to new signing Benjamin Mendy. Club skipper Vincent Kompany has yet to feature since the end of August. Ilkay Gundogan will be assessed before the selection.
- Only Newcastle United (22 in 1994/95) and Manchester United (22 in 2011/12) have scored more goals at this stage of a PL season than City’s 21. Neither of those, however, went on to win the title.
- Alvaro Morata has scored six goals in his first six PL appearances. The highest goalscorer in their first seven appearances as a Premier League player is Mick Quinn (10) followed by Diego Costa (nine).
- Chelsea have lost only one of their last seven Premier League matches against Manchester City at Stamford Bridge (W4 D2). They are the only team do a PL double over Pep Guardiola’s team.
Eden Hazard – Chelsea
Eden Hazard has yet to score or assist this season so far. The Belgian is taking his time to hit his stride. He has been partly overshadowed by Alvaro Morata who has made a sensational start to life in the London and the Premier League. Hazard is one of the very best players in the Premier League, however. He is one who could create something out of virtually nothing. That’s what makes him dangerous. He is all the more so when opponents lose the ball high up the pitch.
Big players turn up in the biggest of games. For Eden Hazard, this game is made to order.
Gabriel Jesus – Manchester City
With 4 goals in 5 starts, Brazilian Gabriel Jesus is proving his worth in front of goal. He is showing exactly how lethal he can be in front of goal. City have goals all over their squad, but none more important than those of Jesus. He is one half of a partnership that is as devastatingly clinical as any in the country.
Jesus’ usually sharp movement will be tested against the seasoned back three of Chelsea. Much of the game’s outcome will rely on how well he makes himself available to Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva. They will both be looking to find him in areas from where he can really hurt Chelsea.
This match has all the makings of an end-to-end goal-fest with just a hint of touchline theatre. That means there is a high likelihood it will disappoint, big time. A draw is not out of the question.