On December third, Manchester City welcome title rivals Chelsea to the Eithad Stadium. Before the festive period gets into full swing later in the month, we’ll have one of the biggest games of the season with first playing third and joint bookies favourites for the title, according to Paddy Power.
After a barnstorming start to the season, City have fallen off a bit recently. Having won their first six Premier League fixtures, Pep Guardiola’s side have only three wins in their last seven matches. This has seen them drop to third in the league and brought up some concerns about whether Guardola’s side has truly adjusted to his system and whether they can keep their performance levels up and win the title.
After a decent start to the season, Chelsea suffered a lull with a draw away to Swansea, a loss at home to Liverpool, and getting crushed 3-0 away to Arsenal in three consecutive matches. Since that 3-0 loss at the Emirates, Chelsea have switched from a 4-1-4-1 formation to a 3-4-3 and have won seven straight matches, conceding only once.
Manchester City are mostly healthy, but they will be without Vincent Kompany as he has to recover from yet another injury. This time the Belgian is out with a medial knee ligiment injury. Raheem Sterling is adoubt for the match, but was back in training over the week, suggesting he could be fit for Saturday. Fabian Delph is also a doubt for this match as he continues to recover from a groin injury.
Chelsea will also be without their captain as John Terry remains sidelined with his glute injury. John Obi Mikel is also likely to miss out with a muscle injury.
Chelsea have not beaten Manchester City in the Premier League in either of the last two seasons, with a pair of 1-1 draws in their title winning season of 2014/2015 and a pair of 3-0 losses last season. Surprisingly enough, Manchester City have struggled more at home this season than they have on the road. Their only loss this season is away to Tottenham, but they’ve won their other six away games. At home, they’ve won only three of their six matches, drawing the other three.
These two sides have the two highest scorers in the league this season, with both Diego Costa and Sergio Aguero notching 10 goals. They also have the two assist leaders this season, with Kevin De Bruyne assisting seven goals and Nemanja Matic assisting six.
Manchester City: Kevin De Bruyne
Manchester City have plenty of supremely talented players, but it can be argued that none of them are as important to the team and their Belgian attacking midfielder. Despite starting only 10 of the 13 Premier League matches this season, De Bruyne has scored two goals and assisted seven more. It’s no coincidence that City’s only loss this season came when was out with an injury. If City are unable to get De Bruyne going, they could struggle against an in form Chelsea side.
Chelsea: N’Golo Kante
Chelsea will likely be on the back foot to start off this match and will be trying to cut through City on the counter attack. That makes Kante’s job of breaking up play and turning defence into attack even more important than it normally is. If City win the battle in midfield, Chelsea will have a very tough time winning the match. The Frenchman is not only a fantastic ball winner, but he is also very good in transitioning from defense to attack. He is yet to lose a Premier League game to a team not named Arsenal or Liverpool and, if he plays well on Saturday, there is a decent chance that streak will continue.
This is a match between two of the big title favourites and those are always tough to call. It will likely be cagey with neither side wanting to lose, so a draw is a real possibility. In the end, there is a good chance the teams will end up splitting the points sine neither team will want to lose to arguably it’s biggest title rival.
Prediction: 1-1 Draw