The defending Premier League Champions and the current leader’s Manchester City host 2nd placed Chelsea at the Etihad. The reverse fixture played back in September ended in a 1-0 victory for Manchester City with a dominating performance. Chelsea will look to catch up to City’s 10 point lead, fighting for the win over a tough fixture away from home. Manchester City, on the other hand, will look to carry forward their impressive run of form and increase the gap.
Why You Should Be Watching
Manchester City and Chelsea are in the top-tier clubs in world football looking at their recent achievements. The rivalry between the two sides is immense after Chelsea was victorious in the last year’s UEFA Champions League final handing the Citizens a 1-0 defeat. The brawl between the two sides is not something you might want to miss.
We also see a clash of two tactical masters in the modern game. Pep Guardiola and Thomas Tuchel, both known for dominating, possession-based attacking football. It will be interesting to see who comes out on top.
Riyad Mahrez remains out with Algeria for international duty in the Africa Cup of Nations. England international Phill Foden might miss the game due to being short of full fitness. Zinchenko is believed to be out after testing positive for covid-19 according to reports and has to enter a period of self-isolation according to government protocols. Center-back John Stones might not make the squad but is close to returning after suffering a knock.
Defense- Walker, Dias, Laporte, Cancelo
Midfield- De Bruyne, Rodri, Gundogan
Forward- Sterling, Jesus, Bernardo
First choice keeper Edouard Mendy will miss the game for representing Senegal at the Africa Cup of Nations. Trevoh Chalobah is probably out after aggravating his injury in Chelsea’s latest league game vs Liverpool. Wingback duo Reece James and Ben Chilwell remain out of action after suffering a torn hamstring and an ACL injury respectively.
Thiago Silva and N’Golo Kante are in contention to start after recovering from Covid-19 and playing small parts in Chelsea’s second leg EFL cup tie vs Tottenham.
Defense- Azpilicueta, Christensen, Silva, Rudiger, Alonso
Midfield- Kovacic, Kante
Forward- Havertz, Lukaku, Mount
Players to watch out for
Kevin De Bruyne
After a tough start to the season with an injury and also testing positive for covid-19, the Belgian Genius is back into top form and showing why he is one of the best midfielders in the world. De Bruyne has started in the last 6 games and has been pulling the strings in City’s midfield.
Registered an assist in City’s latest match, 4-1 win vs Swindon Town in the FA Cup, another fantastic display by the Belgian. De Bruyne was substituted as a precaution later in the 2nd half and will most probably start against the European champions. Pep will look forward to orchestrating City’s game around him and hope for his key man to deliver.
The key man for City in stopping Chelsea’s attackers will be Ruben Dias. The Portuguese Wall has been crucial for Pep’s side since he arrived last year.
The 2020/21 UEFA Men’s defender of the year, has had a very good season this time as well. A regular starter for the city with his rock solid defending, helping the Citizens to keep 8 clean sheets out of 12 in the league. (most this season).
Although playing the full game vs Swindon Town last week, we could see Ruben Dias start alongside Aymeric Laporte in the heart of City’s defense to get the job done against a Chelsea side in good form.
The Silky German is a popular figure amongst Chelsea ever since their UCL triumph last year. Kai Havertz has been a crucial player and has delivered for Chelsea during the absence of strikers Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner in the false nine positions.
After recovering from Covid-19 earlier this year, Kai put on a spectacular first-half show vs Tottenham. Dislocated his finger just after scoring a goal, was given the medical clearance to play, and came on in the second half vs Chesterfield and put on a good shift.
The German was protected by Tuchel in the second leg of the EFL cup semi-final vs Tottenham, which keeps him in the pole position to start against Manchester City.
Despite his contract with Chelsea coming to an end later this year, Antonio Rudiger has not lost his focus, commitment to the club, and performed game after game this season. Being a big presence in defense, Rudiger has started the most after Tuchel’s arrival at the Bridge. Dealt with Kane and Son very well in the first leg of EFL cup vs Tottenham with a clean sheet.
A goal from a set-piece and another clean sheet by the German Beast in the second leg of this fixture shows he is in the form of his career. Tuchel will be hoping for Rudiger to be at his best against the defending league Champions and get Chelsea the result they are looking for.
A big match in the Premier League this Saturday might just give us the hint if the title race is still on or not. Manchester City will look to dominate the game from minute one on the home ground as they’ve been doing all season long.
Meanwhile, Chelsea after having a tough December month has come together and put in strong performances ever since New Year and looks to carry their form and close the gap between them and Manchester City. A clash is full of big names, energy, and tactical decisions between the two sides.
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