Saturday’s Premier League action gets underway at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea and Manchester City lock horns in a mouth-watering top-five six-pointer.
Backed by last season’s Champions League triumph and a couple of eye-catching summer recruitments made over the summer, Chelsea have laid the foundations for their first Premier League title since 2016/17.
Despite amassing three points fewer than their hosts, Man City are firmly in the title race as they seek the fifth league crown in five years and the second in a row.
Chelsea’s success under Thomas Tuchel has emanated from a water-tight backline that has already registered four clean sheets in five Premier League matches this term (W4, D1).
Since Tuchel arrived at Stamford Bridge, the Blues have managed 15 shutouts in 24 top-flight games, more than any other side in England in that period.
The reigning Champions League holders have been equally impressive at the other end of the pitch this season, with ten different goalscorers contributing to Chelsea’s four league wins coming by a 2+ goal margin.
Indeed, except for marquee summer signing Romelu Lukaku, who has tallied three Premier League goals this term, no other London side’s player has managed more than one.
After being handed a much-needed rest in Chelsea’s Carabao Cup win over Aston Villa on Wednesday, the Belgium international will return to the fold on Saturday.
Lukaku has found the opening goal in both competitive outings at Stamford Bridge this season, including his second-half winner against Zenit St Petersburg in his most recent such appearance.
Mateo Kovacic, who has been nothing short of outstanding this season, could be Tuchel’s secret weapon up top after racking up a goal and two assists in his last two Premier League starts.
It remains uncertain whether Edouard Mendy will be ready to reclaim his place between the sticks after picking up an injury against Zenit, per Sports Illustrated.
Manchester City Preview
After a hat-trick of Premier League wins ‘to nil,’ Man City faltered against a spirited Southampton side at the Etihad last time out, playing out a dismal scoreless draw.
Yet a four-match unbeaten league streak accompanied by a brace of empathic victories in the Carabao Cup and the Champions League suggests the Cityzens’ form curve is on the upward trajectory.
Pep Guardiola’s side swept aside lower-league side Wycombe Wanderers 6-1 in Wednesday’s Carabao Cup third round to set themselves up nicely for this high-profile trip.
Relentless in front of goal, the defending English champions have netted 5+ goals in four of their last six fixtures across all competitions, albeit doing so on home turf on each occasion.
It has not been plain sailing for City on hostile soil lately by any stretch of the imagination. They had lost three straight competitive games away from the Etihad before eking out a 1-0 win over Leicester City in their most recent road trip.
Illustrious playmaker Kevin De Bruyne could make his first Premier League start of the season after regaining full fitness.
The 30-year-old star has seemingly had Chelsea’s number of late, especially in top-flight meetings, getting on the scoresheet in his last three Premier League appearances against the Blues.
Chelsea vs Manchester City Head-to-Head
Chelsea boss Tuchel has been a thorn in Guardiola’s side, beating his Man City counterpart in three consecutive managerial H2Hs by a single-goal margin.
The Blues have been particularly impressive against City in high-stake showdowns of late, outplaying them in last season’s FA Cup semi-final and the Champions League grand final.
Interestingly, none of the last 12 Premier League clashes between Chelsea and Man City have ended as a draw, with the Londoners winning five to City’s seven.
Even though the two joint-best Premier League defences go head-to-head here, we could be in for a high-scoring affair, as both previous top-flight H2Hs at Stamford Bridge have seen over 2.5 goals and both teams scoring.
Chelsea vs Manchester City Predicted Line-ups
Chelsea (3-4-2-1): Kepa Arrizabalaga; Andreas Christensen, Thiago Silva, Antonio Rudiger; Cesar Azpilicueta, N’Golo Kante, Jorginho, Marcos Alonso; Mason Mount, Kai Havertz; Romelu Lukaku.
Manchester City (4-3-3): Ederson; Kyle Walker, Ruben Dias, Nathan Ake, Joao Cancelo; Kevin De Bruyne, Fernandinho, Bernardo Silva; Gabriel Jesus, Ferran Torres, Jack Grealish.
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