This weekend sees a clash between two of the title favourites. The pressure is on Manchester City, as they have already dropped points twice this season. Meanwhile, Chelsea are the early pace setters with the only dropped points coming against Liverpool, when they went down to ten men. A win for either side would send a real statement. There is narrative to this fixture, as it was last season’s Champions League final. Since Thomas Tuchel took over at Stamford Bridge, he has beaten Pep Guardiola on three occasions.
Chelsea have been written about as the title favourites by many pundits this season. This is an opportunity for them to beat the current champions and put a major points gap between the two teams at an early stage. Tuchel will be keen to win the Premier League to back up his triumph in the Champions League. He will know the importance of this fixture and his impressive record against Guardiola should give the team confidence this weekend.
It has been a slow start to the season for Manchester City. A mixture of injuries and players being unavailable for other reasons, Guardiola hasn’t been able to name his best starting eleven yet. There is another school of thought that will argue the Spaniard isn’t completely sure of his strongest team. He will have to find it over the coming weeks to ensure City aren’t cut adrift at an early stage. The returns of Kevin de Bruyne and Phil Foden will help in the long term, but they could cause more selection headaches in the short term.
- This season, Chelsea have only conceded one goal in the league this season. This is their best start to a season defensively since 2010/11.
- Manchester City failed to score last weekend. They have never failed to score in successive Premier League matches under Pep Guardiola.
The Belgian international has been an excellent signing for Chelsea and it will be in matches like this that they will want him to provide match winning moments. Lukaku has scored three times in the Premier League already, while he added a further one in the Champions League. He has added a focal point to the front line, which has added a bigger goal threat across the pitch. His presence causes a lot of worries for opposition defences, which opens up space for his team mates. The likes of Mason Mount, Kai Havertz and even Marcos Alonso should have more space to exploit in the final third. Against Arsenal, both wing backs had lot of space to move into and they may look to a similar game plan this weekend. If Lukaku’s movement is good and he is on his game, that could play a major role in the result.
Lukaku may be the major threat for Chelsea, but it could be his compatriot that steals the headlines. Kevin De Bruyne is slowly working his way back to full fitness and it is expected that he will be in the starting eleven this weekend. In previous fixtures, he has had big moments against his former club. Unlike Lukaku, he wasn’t brought back to Stamford Bridge and he will always have motivation to do well in this fixture. The discussion has been about Lukaku, Bruno Fernandes, Cristian Ronaldo and Jack Grealish. De Bruyne will want to remind the world of his quality and this is a great opportunity to do so.
N’Golo Kante is available for Chelsea, which is a major boost. Edouard Mendy and Christian Pulisic are both doubts.
There are several doubts for the visitors. Rodri, Aymeric Laporte, John Stones, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Ilkay Gundogan all have various niggles. Guardiola will be hoping that Nathan Ake can feature after being given time off for personal reasons.
This is a very difficult fixture to call. The recent form of both teams and the fixture form suggest that Chelsea are the most likely winners. However, it takes a brave man to back against Pep Guardiola, even if there are some questions about the current City team. A score draw could be a good prediction for this one.
Chelsea 1-1 Manchester City