Sunday’s Premier League action rounds off at Stamford Bridge with a mouth-watering showdown between Chelsea and Manchester City.
Officiating controversy cast a shadow on the Blues’ stunning 4-1 victory at Tottenham Hotspur on Monday as Mauricio Pochettino’s side overhauled a 1-0 deficit to end nine-man Spurs’ unbeaten league start.
Following a pulsating first half featuring three disallowed goals and Christian Romero’s red card, Chelsea took advantage of Destiny Udogie’s expulsion at the start of the second half to thump their cross-city rivals.
Nicolas Jackson ran the show in north London, bagging a sublime hat-trick inside the last 15 minutes of play to end his team’s two-game winless run in the Premier League (D1, L1).
Although it must have been a sweet moment for Pochettino, he knows better than to let a win against his former side tuck him into a false sense of security, with Chelsea languishing in tenth ahead of the kick-off.
Who better to put the London outfit’s potential resurgence to the test going into November’s international break than perennial champions and current pacesetters Man City?
Pep Guardiola’s side made the most out of the previous round, capitalising on their top-table rivals’ slip-ups to return to the summit with a 6-1 demolition of Bournemouth at home.
Jeremy Doku, who opened the scoring at the Etihad Stadium, embraced the spotlight with four assists as the Cityzens made it three league victories on the spin after back-to-back defeats before the last break.
Conceding first, while ominous, won’t necessarily land a hammer blow on Chelsea’s bid to arrest an underwhelming four-game losing streak against Man City in the Premier League.
Pochettino’s side have proved well-versed in turning disadvantageous positions into victories this season, as three of their four league triumphs have seen them pick themselves up from a 1-0 deficit.
However, the Blues’ last four top-flight encounters against Guardiola’s all-conquering side all saw them finish on the received end of a 1-0 scoreline, suggesting a slow start could lead to their demise.
That’s where they potentially run into a problem, considering they have drawn a blank in three of their last four Premier League outings at the Bridge (D1, L3).
In contrast to Chelsea’s scoring woes, Man City have been raining down goals at an astonishing rate, mustering a league-high average of 2.54 goals per game this term.
Guardiola should still take that stat with some reservation, knowing just 12 of his side’s 28 Premier League goals have come on the road, including their only blank in a 1-0 defeat at Arsenal last month.
But based on City’s matches against Chelsea since their 1-0 heartbreak in the 2020/21 Champions League final, one goal could make the difference on Sunday.
Man City have fended the Blues off in all six competitive duels since that loss, while they thrashed Young Boys 3-0 in midweek Champions League action, reaffirming their defensive credentials.
Chelsea will be without a large chunk of their first-team squad, with Carney Chukwuemeka, Trevoh Chalobah, Wesley Fofana, Romeo Lavia and Ben Chilwell still out with injuries.
Marquee summer signing Christopher Nkunku has yet to make his competitive debut for the club but could return to the fold after the international break.
On the other hand, Mateo Kovacic returns to the Bridge as a foe to partner Rodri in Man City’s double-pivot now that John Stones is likely to face a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
Stones’ injury will probably force a slight formation tweak, with Julian Alvarez likely to play as a ‘trequartista’ while waiting for standout playmaker Kevin De Bruyne to recover from a long-term problem.
Chelsea potential starting line-up:
(4-2-3-1): Robert Sanchez; Reece James, Thiago Silva, Levi Colwill, Marc Cucurella; Moises Caicedo, Enzo Fernandez; Cole Palmer, Conor Gallagher, Raheem Sterling; Nicolas Jackson.
Manchester City potential starting line-up:
(4-2-3-1): Ederson; Kyle Walker, Ruben Dias, Josko Gvardiol, Nathan Ake; Rodri, Mateo Kovacic; Bernardo Silva, Julian Alvarez, Jeremy Doku; Erling Braut Haaland.
We Say: Chelsea 1-1 Manchester City
Some traditions are made to be broken, and Chelsea’s scoring drought in this fixture could finally end this weekend on the back of a free-firing performance against Tottenham.
Man City obliterated Manchester United 3-0 on their last Premier League trip, but consecutive defeats at Arsenal and Wolverhampton Wanderers beforehand showed they could be vulnerable against well-organised sides.
As such, we can envisage Chelsea taking a point here.
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