Saturday’s Premier League action gets underway at the Etihad Stadium with a mouth-watering encounter between Manchester City and Chelsea.
The defending English champions have picked up where they left off in 2021, winning both competitive games in the new calendar year by an aggregate score of 6-2.
A come-from-behind 2-1 victory at Arsenal on New Year’s Day made it 11 Premier League triumphs in a row for Pep Guardiola’s men, who are now ten points clear at the summit.
Another success here would probably land a title-eliminating blow on Chelsea, who have impressed in the recent cup competitions.
In addition to a clear-cut 5-1 win over lower-league outfit Chesterfield in the FA Cup, Thomas Tuchel’s team defeated Antonio Conte’s Tottenham Hotspur side in both legs of their Carabao Cup semi-final tie without conceding.
However, back to the Premier League, where they have drawn both previous outings, puts the reigning Champions League holders in front of a mammoth task.
Anything but a victory in front of attending home fans would likely put Chelsea’s hopes of wrapping up their first top-flight title since the 2016/17 season firmly to bed.
Manchester City vs Chelsea Head-to-Head
Gabriel Jesus catapulted Man City to a 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge in the reverse fixture, giving his side an opportunity to record their fourth Premier League double over this opposition.
Desperate to avoid that scenario, Chelsea will look to muster up the kind of performance that brought them a 2-1 victory in this exact fixture back in 2020/21.
But it is worth noting that the Blues had lost three consecutive Premier League visits to the Etihad beforehand, scoring just one goal while conceding nine in return across that sequence.
What’s more, they have scored 2+ goals only twice in their last 13 top-flight matches in Man City’s backyard.
Manchester City Team News
Oleksandr Zinchenko and Phil Foden are believed to be amongst several first-team members to have tested positive for COVID-19 in the build-up to Man City’s FA Cup clash against Swindon.
However, Foden, who has tallied five goals and three assists in the Premier League this season, could be available for selection.
In the meantime, Riyad Mahrez is currently away on international duty with Algeria, while the appearance of Jones Stones remains questionable.
Therefore, after going from strength to strength over the past couple of months, Raheem Sterling is likely to start in the front third.
Chelsea Team News
Edouard Mendy, who has been indispensable between the sticks since arriving from Rennes, will surrender the gloves to Kepa Arrizabalaga due to his involvement in the Africa Cup of Nations with Senegal.
In-demand defender Antonio Rudiger, who is now ready to listen to Chelsea’s extension proposal (via The Telegraph), should start alongside Thiago Silva and Andreas Christiansen.
Tuchel is still without first-choice full-backs, Ben Chilwell and Reece James, while up-and-coming centre-back Trevoh Chalobah recently joined the long-term absentees on the sidelines.
But the German manager must be happy to have Romelu Lukaku back to the fold as the two came to terms following a nasty-looking altercation that threatened to end the striker’s career in West London in December.
Manchester City vs Chelsea Predicted Line-ups
Manchester City (4-3-3): Ederson; Kyle Walker, Ruben Dias, Aymeric Laporte, Joao Cancelo; Ilkay Gundogan, Rodri, Kevin De Bruyne; Bernardo Silva, Juan Jesus, Raheem Sterling.
Chelsea (3-4-2-1): Kepa Arrizabalaga; Andreas Christensen, Thiago Silva, Antonio Rudiger; Cesar Azpilicueta, Jorginho, Mateo Kovacic, Marcos Alonso; Mason Mount, Kai Havertz; Romelu Lukaku.