This is the standout fixture from the midweek round of matches, with Chelsea looking to make a statement against Manchester City. Although the visitors have been excellent since the restart, they have an FA Cup tie at the weekend and they may choose to rest key players in this fixture. Meanwhile, the Blues have the motivation to consolidate their position in the top four, with Champions League football crucial to their development under Frank Lampard. This will be a good test for both teams.
It wasn’t a great display against Aston Villa, but the three points have given Chelsea a positive start post lockdown. There were fears that they would struggle to keep their top four position, given Manchester United and Tottenham having key players back. However, they now have a five points cushion and there will be growing confidence that they will be playing in next season’s Champions League, especially if Manchester City’s CAS appeal fails. That said, they will not want to lose ground on Thursday, therefore they will need to take a positive approach at Stamford Bridge.
Manchester City have been very scary in their opening two matches, following the restart. They have scored eight goals and kept clean sheets in both matches. However, Chelsea can take confidence from their fixture list, as City have already played twice and have an FA Cup quarter-final on Sunday. They will have more minutes in the legs and that could serve as a disadvantage, especially if they have one eye on the FA Cup match. Pep Guardiola won’t want to be beaten in a big game such as this one, but he will realise this is the less important game for his side.
Cesar Azpilicueta got two assists against Aston Villa. This was the second time he achieved this feat in his 263 match Premier League career.
Phil Foden now has five goals and three assists in the Premier League and Champions League combined, with a goal involvement every 80.8 minutes.
The USA International returned to Premier League action with a bang as he scored the equaliser against Aston Villa. It was a great finish and he changed the game following his introduction. It will be expected that he starts against Manchester City, as he can be a player to cause them real problems. His record of six goals and two assists in the Premier League represents a positive start given his game time. Pulisic’s goal involvement is one every 138.9 minutes, which is a great start to his Blues’ career. He needs to play a prominent role over the rest of the season, as they chase a top four finish. During his short time on the pitch on Sunday, he had three shots on goal, underlining the threat that he poses. Manchester City have been faultless defensively with two excellent performances at the back. Chelsea will offer a greater threat and Pulisic will be the player that carries the biggest threat.
Although it hasn’t been confirmed, it looks like Sergio Aguero could be missing for the rest of the season. This creates an opportunity for Gabriel Jesus, who could prove his worth over the rest of the campaign. This season, he has contributed 10 goals and five assists, with a goal contribution every 97.4 minutes. This underlines how dangerous he is in the final third and the improved consistency that he has shown this year. The next few weeks provide him with a chance to find some rhythm and go on a run of goal-scoring form ahead of the Champions League conclusion. Chelsea have struggled to keep clean sheets under Frank Lampard, while the creative talent in the City team means that there will be chances for their striker.
Callum Hudson-Odoi is a doubt for this match, following a knock. Fikayo Tomori won’t be available. Christian Pulisic, Tammy Abraham and Ross Barkley are all pushing for starts.
Sergio Aguero will be missing for the away side, as he picked up a knee injury against Burnley. Phil Foden and John Stones are both doubts. Kevin de Bruyne and Raheem Sterling could return to the starting eleven.
This will be a match that tells us a lot about both teams. It is a great test of Chelsea’s long term title hopes, with Frank Lampard hoping to challenge over the next couple of seasons. If they manage to pick up three points, it will give the players and their inexperienced coach a lot of confidence. City will have one eye on the FA Cup, which could lead to them dropping points on Thursday.
Chelsea 2-2 Manchester City