Man City v Chelsea, Saturday 23 November, KO 5:30pm, Premier League
Match preview by Will Reilly.
It’s City (4th) versus Chelsea (3rd) in the table, with just one point between them. That seemed an unlikely scenario for Chelsea six games into the season but, having won their last six league matches, and eight of their last ten, Frank Lampard’s young side have exceeded surely everyone’s expectations.
Their energy, talent and ability to quickly absorb and adopt Lampard’s tactics, have marked them down as a very promising group of players. Today’s match in Manchester, followed by a trip to Valencia on Wednesday for a crucial Champions League game, will, though, give us much more of an idea as to where they stand in the current scheme of things.
City were furious following a 3-1 defeat at league-leaders Liverpool on November 10th where VAR once again came under unflattering scrutiny. They will be keen to put matters right and, of course, took Chelsea apart in this fixture last year, winning 6-0.
Twelve wins, three losses and just one draw (away to Atalanta in the Champions League) for City in their last 16 games in all competitions, the losses being 3-2 at Norwich, 0-2 at home to Wolves and 3-1 at Liverpool, which shows that they have the odd bad day in them.
Twelve of those 16 games have produced over-2.5 goals and none has produced less-than 2 goals. They have scored 45 goals in the 16 matches and kept seven clean sheets.
Man City’s last six games have produced 22 goals and both teams have scored in five of them. Chelsea’s last six games have produced 23 goals, with both teams scoring in four of them.
There is, I would say, as much chance of this game ending 0-0 as there is about me being asked to ride champion chaser Altior at Ascot earlier in the afternoon.
In 18 games since the Community Shield, the traditional curtain-raiser to the new Premier League season, Raheem Sterling has scored 14 goals for City and Sergio Agüero has scored 12.
Six-successive league wins have moved Chelsea into the top-three in the table. They have, though, kept just four clean sheets in 19 games in all competitions this season, and 14 of those games have produced over-2.5 goals.
In terms of scoring, Tammy Abraham leads the way with ten league goals. Mason Mount, who scored for England during the week, has chipped in with four and Christian Pulisic has scored five in Chelsea’s last three league games.
HEAD TO HEADS
Since 2010, these teams have met 24 times in all competitions, with Chelsea winning seven, drawing four and losing 13. In fact, Chelsea have beaten City just once in their last six meetings and, surprisingly, have failed to score in five of them. Only eleven of the 24 games referred to have produced over 2.5 goals.
Also, Chelsea have failed to score in seven of their last eleven games against City, and they’ve failed to score in six of their last nine league visits to City.
At the Etihad Stadium in league encounters with Chelsea, City have won seven of the last ten meetings, drawing once and losing twice. In those games they have scored 19 goals and conceded seven.
City have scored in nine of the ten games referred to and kept five clean sheets; Chelsea have scored more than one goal in just one of the ten.
Ederson missed the Liverpool game owing to a thigh injury but could be back for Chelsea. He is being monitored. His absence would be a blow for City as his likely replacement, Claudio Bravo, has started only three league matches since April 2017 and is prone to the odd rush of blood to the head, such as his rash challenge in City’s latest Champions League, which led to a red card.
Bernardo Silva is ruled out through a tweet-induced suspension, as are the injured Aymeric Laporte (knee), who is, arguably, City’s best defender, Aleks Zinchenko (knee) and Leroy Sané (long-term knee injury).
Christian Pulisic pulled out of the USA’s latest international owing to a hip injury, but Chelsea are hopeful that he will be fit for Saturday. Ross Barkley is also reported to be fit again and Jorginho will return from suspension.
Longer-term injury casualties, Ruben Loftus-Cheek (knee) and Antonio Rüdiger (knee then groin) are both still out although recent reports suggest that they will be back in contention for selection before Christmas.
VERDICT / TIPS:
It has to be a win for City at 9/20.
If you believe the stats then 1-0 (9/1) or 2-0 (15/2) to City seems likely, although I have a feeling that it will be something like 3-1 at 9/1. The stats also tell us that Chelsea rarely keep a clean sheet