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The match is the first part of our Premier League double-header on Saturday night, with fellow title chasers Tottenham Hotspur heading to Leicester City for a 7.45pm.
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Chelsea v Man City: Match preview
“Man City are the best team in Europe, maybe the best in the world.”
That is Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri’s assessment of the challenge that faces his side on Saturday evening when the champions come to town.
After conceding that his side were no longer in the title race, Sarri’s men suffered a 2-1 defeat away at Wolves in midweek to leave them 10 points behind the leaders after 15 games.
“Manchester City are in another category. We have to play and to fight to be in the top four. They can win the Champions League, but that depends on moments,” added the Italian.
“Last season I think they were the best team in the Champions League, but they played two matches not in the best moment of the season.
“After this match [the 2-1 defeat to Wolves] we lost confidence but maybe that’s better because sometimes my players show me that they have too much confidence.”
The mutual respect between Sarri and friend and opposite number Pep Guardiola is common knowledge, with both managers aiming to play a similar style of high-intensity, possession-based attacking football.
So Sarri’s praise of Saturday’s visitors is perhaps to be expected, but be in no doubt that he will fight fire with fire and tackle City head on.
The hosts are just months into their development under the former Napoli manager and are now expected to play in both a different fashion and an altered formation from the last two seasons under Antonio Conte.
Naturally it will take time for the west London outfit to learn what the Italian demands – even N'Golo Kanté who finished 11th in Monday night’s Ballon d'Or rankings has not been immune from criticism.
In contrast, Guardiola has been able to fine-tune his title winners and the early statistics show they could even better last season’s record-breaking campaign.
Chelsea’s defeat at Molineux on Wednesday night means they have won only one of their last four Premier League games and that is not the sort of form they would have wanted heading into a clash against City.
Having suffered their first league defeat against Tottenham just two weeks ago, the FA Cup holders’ response has not been what Sarri would have wanted – hence his thinly-veiled dig at Chelsea’s over-confident stars.
‘Sarriball’ Chelsea appear to be having their first wobble of the campaign as a result – something Guardiola knows about all too well after Spurs derailed his unbeaten Premier League start two seasons ago.
And having come out on top in all three encounters against the Chelsea boss, the Spaniard will be confident that his side can keep their 21-match unbeaten run going in the league and add to the capital club’s woes.
City arrive at Stamford Bridge for their second trip south in a week – having beaten Watford 2-1 in front of the BT Sport cameras on Tuesday night.
That victory appeared vintage City for most of the match as they dominated possession and carved out a number of chances at Vicarage Road while able to rest the likes of Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero who is nursing an injury.
A frantic final few moments almost saw the Hornets snatch an equaliser and if Guardiola’s previous responses are anything to go by, he will demand a statement of intent from his side.
City’s victory at Stamford Bridge last season was for many the match in which the eventual champions put their stamp on the title race and no doubt they will head there again this weekend with the same intentions.
Liverpool’s club-record start means the leaders have a rival right on their tail and can seemingly ill afford to drop points, even if they are heading to the back yard of a fellow “top six” team.
The hosts find themselves in a similar position of needing to pick up points to maintain their position in the top four – they currently edge Arsenal on goal difference to remain in the Champions League positions.
With so much to play for this early in the season and the fact that both sides will undoubtedly look to dominate possession and dictate the game, this fixture under the lights really is one not to be missed.
Chelsea v Man City: Team news
The hosts have confirmed every player is available for selection. Meanwhile, Sergio Aguero (hip) will be absent and joins Kevin De Bruyne and Benjamin Mendy on the Man City sidelines.
Chelsea v Man City: Manager quotes
Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri: "Rather than 11 players doing 11 different things, we need a collective target which can give us motivation, and that can give us determination. I saw in some matches we lack determination like in the last match.
"You need to change the mentality in 25 minds to change the way you play football. And you cannot do that in one day. It is very difficult as we have seen in Liverpool and in Manchester. It is a long way to go.
"Our target is to be the best team in Europe so we have to improve and believe in it," added the Italian, before being asked the key to victory on Saturday evening.
"I have lost every match against Pep Guardiola so you have to ask somebody else."
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola: “I have been to Stamford Bridge many times and I have won once, last season, always I lose there. They are a good side, a really good team. When you see the XI and the people on the bench, they are a real contender.
"Saturday is another huge demanding test for us. How we play against one of the best teams on one of the biggest stages. How will they react after losing? I can imagine how intense, committed they will be."
Chelsea v Man City: Head-to-head
Man City have the edge over Chelsea in recent meetings between the two sides, winning in each of their last three matches including in the Community Shield back in August.
|05/08/18||Community Shield||Chelsea 0-2 Man City||Aguero (2)|
|04/03/18||Premier League||Man City 1-0 Chelsea||Bernardo Silva|
|30/09/17||Premier League||Chelsea 0-1 Man City||De Bruyne|
|05/04/17||Premier League||Chelsea 2-1 Man City||Hazard (2); Aguero|
|28/02/16||Premier League||Man City 1-3 Chelsea||Cahill OG; Costa, Willian, Hazard|
Man City: Key stats
Chelsea have lost two of their last three home Premier League games against Man City (W1), having lost just two of their first 18 against them in the competition (W11 D5 L2).
Manchester City haven’t won consecutive top-flight visits against Chelsea since January 1955.
Manchester City have never won four consecutive matches against Chelsea in all competitions – this is the 161st meeting between the teams.
Chelsea had just seven shots against Man City across their two Premier League meetings last season – only Leicester vs Man City (4) and Huddersfield vs Liverpool (6) had fewer against an opponent last season.
- The reigning top-flight champions haven’t won at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea in the Premier League since April 2002, when Man Utd won 3-0; the Blues have won five and drawn six of 11 matches since then.
This will be the fifth time Chelsea have faced Man City in the Premier League with the Citizens top of the table – Chelsea won the first two (December 2011 and December 2016), while Man City won both last season.
Manchester City are unbeaten in their last 14 away Premier League games (W11 D3) – they’ve never gone 15 without defeat on the road in the top-flight before.
Maurizio Sarri hasn’t lost two successive league games as a manager since October 2016, when Napoli lost in Italy’s Serie A against Atalanta & Roma.
Only Robin van Persie (6) has scored more away Premier League goals at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea than Manchester City’s Sergio Agüero (5).
Man City boss Pep Guardiola failed to win any of his first seven matches against Chelsea in all competitions (D4 L3) but has since won each of his last three against them.
- Man City’s Leroy Sane hasn’t failed to score or assist a goal in any of his eight Premier League starts this season, with the German scoring six and assisting five.
Chelsea v Man City: Match odds
Man City: 4/5
All odds correct with bet365 at the time of writing.