We preview Wednesday evening's EPL clash between Chelsea and Manchester City.
Crystal Palace’s almost unbelievable victory at the Bridge at the weekend has given the title race a semblance of something it has been lacking in recent weeks: intrigue. In reality, Chelsea were actually dominant against Palace and were it not for some messianic stuff from Wayne Hennessey, they would have surely won the game. Be that as it may, Spurs are keeping the pressure on the leaders while City struggle to string consistent performances together. This looks set to be a season of almost for City. Still nine points behind the leaders, it’s hard to see Guardiola’s men overhauling the deficit. However, victory at the Bridge could strengthen resolve just that little bit more and make for a grandstand finish this season.
Chelsea v Manchester City | Wednesday 5 March | Stamford Bridge, London | 21:00
To Win (90 Mins)
Chelsea 13/10 | Draw 23/10 | Man City 2/1
As I said earlier, Conte was left in fairly philosophical mood in the post-match press situations. In the unaccustomed position of speaking as the losing manager, the manger only had glowing things to say about his side. Chelsea were utterly dominant and will need to just quickly exorcise that result and focus on keeping up the same level of performance. In many ways, the threat that City pose has odd familiarities with Palace. Perhaps more out of pure design than Palace, City are best on the devastating counterattacking side in the league. They will be quite happy to absorb large swathes of Chelsea pressure if they are able to exploit that on the break.
Matic has looked jaded in recent weeks and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Fabregas starts in tandem with the indefatigable Kante.There are often multiple ways to skin a cat. Fabregas’ range of passing presents Chelsea with more ‘get-out’ options than the industrious partnership of Kante and Matic. Luiz will likely play through pain again while there is some concern over the fitness of Moses. Pedro will likely deputise at right-back should the Nigerian not feature, but I expect that he will be able to pick himself up for this game. Hazard will look to exploit the absence of Sagna at right-back in what looks set to be a huge clash at the Bridge.
Guardiola’s side will be without Sagna this week while Jesus and Gundogan remain long-term absentees. Vincent Kompany’s long-travails with fitness also continue - a situation that Guardiola is no doubt going to address in the close season. City will feel slightly disappointed with the result against an embattled Arsenal - with those all too familiar defensive frailties rearing their ugly head. One area where one fancies Chelsea in this game will be dead-ball situations, with City lacking a general in defence minus Kompany.
But one can’t deny the attacking power on display in this side. The pace of Sterling and Sane gives De Bruyne and Silva the space that they need to operate in. Aguero is his metronomic self, which gives the side the focus it needs. Fernandinho’s lack of discipline has been a huge issue for this side this year: and few people will forget the tempestuous nature of the first fixture between these two sides this season. This will be a blood and guts affair that could have real ramifications on the league.
Verdict: Chelsea to win at 13/10
I just think that Chelsea’s ‘blip’ at the weekend was almost illusory. They lost but absolutely dominated Palace. City only managed to draw with an Arsenal side completely demotivated. So I’m going for the Blues to potentially seal their title credentials.
Written by Damien Kayat @Hollywoodbets