Chelsea are facing a difficult task to avoid a third defeat in four Premier League matches as they welcome Manchester City to Stamford Bridge. The current champions have been near perfect this season and are already the favourites to retain their crown. This would be a major achievement and a dominant display on Saturday would be a major statement.
Maurizio Sarri enjoyed a good start to life as a Premier League boss, but the recent fixtures will be a reminder of the size of the task he has at Chelsea. A loss on Saturday wouldn’t be terrible in isolation considering the opposition. However, as part of their recent form, it will be another setback. A good performance and result against the current champions would be huge, but it is difficult to predict that given the recent displays given by the two sides.
Manchester City could be set to dominate English football for years to come if they keep Pep Guardiola for the long term. Their second successive league title already looks inevitable at this point due to their dominating performances. They will be going to Chelsea expecting to win and that underlined the change of expectation that has taken place under the current management.
Chelsea’s loss to Wolves means that they have now lost back-to-back away matches against promoted teams for the first time since December 1999.
Manchester City’s goal difference of +38 is the best achieved by a top-flight team after 15 games since the 1892-3 season.
The Frenchman has had to adapt to a new role under Sarri and it could be that the Italian decides to change his system to get the best out of N’Golo Kante over the coming weeks. Their recent form has been disappointing as they aren’t getting the best out of those in the team and Kante is a perfect example of that. Since arriving in England, the midfielder has emerged as one of the best players in his position in world football. Supporters will confirm that his signing during the summer of 2016 led to the Blues regaining the league title. Prior to that, he played a major part in Leicester City shocking the world to claim the Premier League title. There is no doubting his talent and he has much more to offer the side during the current season. Sarri needs to realise that and deploy him in a way that gets the best out of him. Everybody knows that Kante is full of energy and excellent at winning the ball back in central areas. Against Manchester City, that will be key to victory.
The Manchester City started the new season slowly, but he has returned to his best form during recent weeks. Sane has contributed three goals and two assists during his last three Premier League fixtures. Sane is lightning quick and causes opposing defences a lot of problems when he runs directly at them. Against Watford, the German international completed four dribbles and two key passes. He is building momentum at the right time and looks set to be influential over the Christmas period. Chelsea haven’t been convincing at the back during recent weeks. Sane will take great confidence from their performance against Tottenham. The Blues were regularly opened up. If the City winger receives the same space and time, he will have a field day.
Ross Barkley is a doubt for the home side, but he is the only player who is suffering with an injury at the moment. Ruben Loftus-Cheek will be desperate to keep his starting place after some good performances of late.
Vincent Kompany is a doubt after being taken off against Watford. Sergio Aguero will be hoping to be back to face Chelse, but Kevin de Bruyne remains a few days away from a return. Raheem Sterling is likely to start after being rested during the week.
This is going to be a major test for Chelsea and we will learn a lot about their credentials. They haven’t started many matches as underdogs since the appointment of Sarri, but they will have that tag on Saturday. Manchester City have been superb this season and continue to thrive without Sergio Aguero and Kevin de Bruyne to call on. The latter’s injury was expected to have a much bigger impact than it has done and credit needs to go to those that have stepped up. Despite their home advantage, it is difficult to see Chelsea getting anything from the game.
Chelsea 1-3 Manchester City