A Blue Up North previews Chelsea’s home match this Saturday against the current Premier League champions Manchester City.
This Saturday’s teatime kick off sees Chelsea host The Premier League champions Manchester City at Stamford Bridge. Pep Guardiola’s impressive squad are currently the best in the country and few will give Maurizio Sarri and his Chelsea team a chance.
The Citizens have won their last 3 matches against The Blues without conceding a goal, but have never won 4 consecutive times against Chelsea. Victory on Saturday would mean that they become the first team from outside London to win 7 consecutive top flight matches in London.
It has been 16 years since Chelsea have lost a home Premier League match against the reigning champions and still remain unbeaten at Stamford Bridge this season.
Maurizio Sarri is expected to recall David Luiz and Jorginho after they were unused substitutes at Wolves on Wednesday evening, while Ross Barkley is back in contention after his ankle injury. But it might be the front 3 that make the biggest stamp on the match for The Blues. Eden Hazard showed plenty of signs of returning to his best on Wednesday, while the pace and finishing of Pedro and the team link up play of Olivier Giroud could assist in Chelsea taking the game to their opponents.
Guardiola will be without Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne, but still has an enviable array of talented players to choose from. The Spanish maestro has had time and incredible financial backing to mould the squad to his liking and they look like being the dominant force in English football for the coming seasons.
To counter this, Sarri will need his players to be on top form while playing an intense and committed performance. And, very importantly, The Blues will need to play like this for the entire 90 minutes. Any let up and the leaders will take full advantage. After all, Wolves did.
Olympique Lyonnais showed in their Champions League group matches against Manchester City earlier this season that a well organised high team press can stifle The Citizens’s play, while top quality fast interplay between their forwards on the counter attack caused Guardiola’s team untold problems.
So once again the most important thing for the Chelsea team may not be who plays, but their application and mindset throughout the match. Otherwise, this could be a match that could very quickly get away from The Blues.
However, this is a match that Chelsea teams have regularly thrived upon in the past and at Saturday teatime we will find out if this current crop of players, with Sarri at the helm, can repeat that success.
Written by Jon Ellis, home and away season ticket holder. Follow him on Twitter @ClitheroeBlue