Written by Chad Nagel for Soccer Betting News. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!
Chelsea v Manchester City | Saturday 16 April | Stamford Bridge | 18:30
When Chelsea and Manchester City meet at this stage of the season there’s usually a title at stake, but strangely this is not the case. Next season promises to be more glamorous with Pep Guardiola and Antonio Conte in the dugout, but for now, it seems like an ordinary Premier League fixture, nothing less and nothing more.
After winning the league by a canter last season, Chelsea have endured a catastrophic season that saw them part ways with their most successful manager Jose Mourinho – for good this time – with the Portuguese now expected to take the reins at Manchester United.
Guus Hiddink has come in to steer the ship with a steady hand, but Chelsea are out of every competition and will not participate in Europe next season. City, on the other hand, have not been half as bad as their opponents but they have lost their indomitable spirit and have overwhelmingly underperformed this season. Manuel Pellegrini’s side are not guaranteed a place in the top four this season and will need to keep winning with Manchester United and West Ham hot on their heels.
To Win (90 Mins)
Chelsea 15/10 | Draw 23/10 | Man City 7/4
Chelsea suffered their first Premier League defeat since sacking Mourinho as they fell to a 1-0 loss at Swansea City. Gylfi Sigurdsson scored the game’s only goal in the first half and, despite dominating possession after the break, the Blues were unable to recover anything from the game. It was a bitter blow to Hiddink as he tasted defeat in the league for the first time since returning as interim manager.
That defeat was the Blues’ 10th in the league this season, something that has not happened in a generation at Stamford Bridge. To go from champions to such mediocrity is painful for Chelsea fans, who will be looking to Conte to put things right next season.
Chelsea’s defeats this season have followed a familiar pattern in the Premier League. The Blues have dominated possession in most of those games but are not creating enough chances. Conte will need to bring directness to the Blues’ play. He needs to find a way to convert the 61 percent possession they had against Swansea into more than just two shots on target.
With nothing else to play for in their remaining fixtures, Chelsea are attempting to get ahead of themselves for the new season. The players have a good chance of showcasing their skills to Conte, who is rumoured to make wholesale changes at the club. The former Juventus boss has already visited the club’s headquarters and met a few members of the squad he will inherit in the summer, and there is no doubt that he will be watching them closely till the end of the season.
Chelsea are unbeaten in their last eight league games at Stamford Bridge, but have drawn six times. Spain international Diego Costa will be available to play after serving his two-match ban and will boost his side’s attack.
Hiddink has vowed to give several youngsters a chance between now and the end of the season, so don’t be surprised to see the likes of Matt Miazga, Bertrand Traore, Kenedy and Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
Goals from Sergio Aguero and Samir Nasri helped Manchester City to a 2-1 victory over West Brom and cement their place in the top four of the Premier League. It was by no means a classic City performance but it got the job done.
They now sit with 57 points, four clear of Manchester United, and within two of Arsenal. Pellegrini’s side will face a tougher test against Chelsea on Saturday and the players will need to improve from last weekend. However, it’s a good time to play the champions with Hiddink set to field a makeshift side that are already missing Willian, Eden Hazard, Gary Cahill and John Terry.
It was City who fielded several youngsters when the sides last met at Stamford Bridge in the FA Cup. Chelsea would go on to win 5-1 that day and Pellegrini could get some revenge if Hiddink makes the same mistake. City recorded an impressive 3-0 win over Chelsea at the beginning of the season thanks to goals from Aguero, Fernandinho, and Vincent Kompany. The latter could return from his long injury layoff having trained from Monday.
Kompany’s return would be a massive boost for Pellegrini. When the Belgium international is on the pitch there aren't many better than him in the heart of defence. He's incredibly driven to succeed and has the accolades to show for it. He has speed, strong aerial ability, and positioning as well as the ability to quickly read the game.
Kevin De Bruyne will come up against his former club for the first time, hoping to pile further misery on their dreadful season. The Belgian was always highly rated at Stamford Bridge, but for some reason, Mourinho didn’t give him a chance and sold him to Wolfsburg. De Bruyne showed his quality in the Bundesliga and City spent £56m on him. Chelsea could have had a much better season with De Bruyne on their team and the Belgian playmaker will be looking to prove they made a mistake to let him go. De Bruyne really has nothing to prove but he’ll take great delight in causing Chelsea all sorts of problems.
Verdict: Manchester City 7/4
Chelsea don’t have anything to play for this season, while Manchester City still need points to secure their place in the top four. Only a brave punter would put their money on Chelsea right now. With Hiddink set to play the youngsters, I think City could prove too strong, even at Stamford Bridge. If City are in the mood, it could even turn out ugly for Chelsea. I hope I’m wrong, but I know I’m right. I’m confident City will take maximum points here.
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