Manchester City welcome Chelsea to the Etihad Stadium in the pick of this weekend’s Premier League fixtures on the 4th of March.
The battle of the blues is always an enticing spectacle and this weekend’s clash is no exception. Manchester City still buoyed by their Carabao Cup triumph over Arsenal, host a wounded lion in the shape of Chelsea who are in desperate search for redemption after suffering a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Manchester United. The title race is virtually over but there’s pride at stake and the top four fight for the visitors is in full swing.
Antonio Conte’s men did the double over Pep Guardiola’s charges last season but the tide has rapidly turned as the latter recorded a 1-0 victory in their first meeting of the current campaign and will be looking to reverse the double when they clash this Sunday.
*Please note that this article was written prior to Manchester City’s clash against Arsenal on Thursday 1 March.
Manchester City vs Chelsea
Sunday 4 March
To Win (90 mins)
Man City 6/10
This is a side that has lost only one of their 27 matches so far this season and they look on course to lifting the title comfortably with a couple of games to spare as they hold a 13-point gap over second-placed Manchester United. City’s superb display in the Carabao Cup final which they won 3-1 this past weekend made Arsenal look like a second-tier team. Heading into a match of the calibre on the back of a triumphant cup final can result in complacency but captain Vincent Kompany has stressed the importance of staying focused. The Belgian said that they need to keep winning trophies and breaking records if they want to be considered the greatest City generation ever.
Guardiola has put down the turnaround this season to City management which has always supported him. Heading to the final, the Citizens had crashed out of the FA Cup after losing 1-0 to Wigan but they reacted very well.
The hosts will not be too worried about following Champions League match at home against Basel as they already hold a 4-0 first leg advantage, so Chelsea can’t expect to face a weakened side. Danger man, Sergio Aguero is in sizzling form with seven goals in his last six matches. Fabian Delph won’t take part in this encounter due to suspension but Danilo will do an equally good job in the left back position.
Chelsea are going through a testing period where they are playing Barcelona, Manchester United and Manchester City back to back. Chelsea followed up a 1-1 draw against Barcelona with a 2-1 defeat at Manchester United with Willian finding the back of the net on both occasions. The Brazilian attacker is in great form, having scored in each of his last three matches. Conte is using him as a secret weapon as teams man-mark Eden Hazard.
A positive reaction is needed by the Premier League champions as they currently lie fifth and two points behind fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur. Conte has admitted that the team might miss out on the Champions League next season. “It’s a possibility, for sure. I am repeating the same concept many times. In this league getting a place in the Champions League is not simple. This country has the only championship where you can find six teams who start the season by fighting to win the title or getting a place in the Champions League. It’s very hard for every team.
‘There is this risk. We must be ready to be concentrated, and to understand this target is an important target for us, but it won’t be easy.’’ he said.
Since the turn of the year, Chelsea have won two, drawn two and lost three of their league matches and that has put the manager under a great deal of pressure. The Blues now have Alvaro Morata back from injury and he played a full 90 minutes at Old Trafford. It will be very interesting to see who starts between him and Olivier Giroud who combines well with Eden Hazard.
It shall also be interesting to see who is picked to play in midfield alongside N’Golo Kante between Cesc Fabregas and Danny Drinkwater as David Luiz, Ross Barkley and Tiemoue Bakayoko are injury doubts.
Verdict: Man City (6/10)
The Citizens are overwhelming favourites due to home ground advantage and current form. I think Chelsea’s injury woes aren’t helping their cause and I don’t see them getting something out of this game. I think the best bet is on Manchester City not losing this game, meaning if you’re brave enough you can say Manchester City win or play it safe and put your money on the Win/Draw option at 2/13.