As the Premier League season gets underway on Saturday, Manchester City will host Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium for a midday showdown for supremacy at the top of the league.
Pep Guardiola’s side is already 10 points ahead of their next opponents in the rankings. Another defeat for Chelsea will effectively end their title challenge.
Guardiola’s tenacious squad have won their past seven domestic games in all competitions – including their previous five in the Premier League. Despite being without a renowned striker for most of the year, the Sky Blues have recorded more than three goals for every Premier League match at the Etihad.
The incumbent champions have amassed an 11-game Premier League winning streak. However, they cannot take anything for granted against title-chasing opponents bolstered by a mid-season cup final appearance.
Antonio Conte was devoid of nostalgia as he reconnected with old club Chelsea for the Carabao Cup semi-final return leg on 12th January, as the Blues prevailed in North London to move to the final.
The decision to replace Hugo Lloris with Pierluigi Gollini did not end well with the Spurs fans, and it proved costly. The 26-year-old Italian failed to reach a corner from Mason Mount, and Antonio Rudiger headed in to secure a 3 – 0 aggregate victory.
The Blues will have a chance to win it all against either Arsenal or Liverpool next month, yet keeping their fading Premier League title hopes alive is the priority. However, Thomas Tuchel’s side is at risk of dropping 13 points behind Manchester City if they lose at the Etihad.
The Blues might potentially finish third if Liverpool defeats Brentford the following day. However, Chelsea has excelled away from home during a run of stalemates at Stamford Bridge, winning six of their previous eight top-flight games on rival soil and conceding a Premier League-low six goals.
Manchester City and Chelsea Possible Starting Line Up
Manchester City’s coronavirus outbreak resulted in the isolation of 7 first-squad players – in addition to – before the Swindon victory. It is unclear how many of the nameless contingent will be allowed to return here.
Two players are affected: Oleksandr Zinchenko and Phil Foden, whereas John Stones is recovering from an injury. Riyad Mahrez is away on Africa Cup of Nations action with Algeria.
Ederson will be available to grab the gloves back from Zack Steffen, presuming he is not a member of the corona virus-affected list. Aymeric Laporte will replace Nathan Ake if Pep Guardiola rules out John Stones once again.
Tuchel does not have any new injury worries for Chelsea’s top-of-the-table encounter. However, Reece James, Ben Chilwell, Trevoh Chalobah, and AFCON player Edouard Mendy remain sidelined.
N’Golo Kante and Thiago Silva came off as substitutes against Spurs and might win starts at the Etihad. But the latter will have a challenging task dislodging Jorginho or Mateo Kovacic.
Malang Sarr looked confident during the midweek, but he might make way for Marcos Alonso, while Kai Havertz will strive for a comeback in the final third ahead of Timo Werner.
The Sky Blues Probable Starting Lineup:
Ederson Santana; Aymeric Laporte, Ruben Dias, Kyle Walker, Joao Cancelo; Ilkay Gundogan, Kevin De Bruyne, Rodrigo Hernandez; Gabriel Jesus, Phil Foden, and Bernardo Silva
The Blues Probable Starting Lineup:
Kepa Arrizabalaga; Andreas Christensen, Antonio Rudiger, Thiago Silva; Cesar Azpilicueta, Marcos Alonso, Mateo Kovacic, Jorginho; Kai Havertz, Mason Mount; and Romelu Lukaku
Manchester City vs. Chelsea Score Prediction
If my math and equations are actual, this should be an enthralling encounter, but one with a low score. Manchester City is storming their way to the title, having won their previous 11 Premier League games and scoring 33 goals. 4/6 odds on a home win are sure to entice many.
On the other hand, Thomas Tuchel’s squad has been running like an oiled engine since the 40th minute 2-2 draw with Liverpool. Tuchel has beaten Man City three times before this season’s 1-0 loss at Stamford Bridge. Exactly six goals have been conceded during four meetings between Man City and Chelsea. As Tuchel and major football matches are concerned, low-scoring encounters are a common denominator.
Throughout 19 such matches, including the Champions League knockout stages, cup semis & finals, and Premier League top-four battles, the total average match goal is 1.6, with just two of the 19 games exceeding the 2.5 goal mark.
Despite their overall solid goal-scoring record, City’s attacking approach has appeared somewhat rusty in their previous two Premier League games. At home, they were lucky to come away with three points against the Bees (1.04) and the Gunners (1.15). I doubt their ability to create chances against a strong Chelsea defense only serves to exacerbate a goal-shy clash.
Man City host Chelsea this Saturday and have had more time to get ready for the game than the Blues, who were engaged in a Carabao Cup semi-final on Wednesday. In terms of the final result, we’re tipping Man City to win by a narrow 1-0 margin in what could be a close and dramatic 90 minutes.