The last two winners of the Premier League collide this weekend when Manchester City travel to face Chelsea.
City are currently on course to retain their crown, sitting on top of the Premier League table after 15 games, while Chelsea are in fourth having lost two of their last three matches.
Competition: Premier League
Venue: Stamford Bridge
Date: Saturday, 8 December
Kick-off: 5:30 PM GMT
After a positive start to the season and life under Maurizio Sarri, cracks are beginning to show at Chelsea with two defeats in their past three games. Against Wolverhampton Wanderers on Wednesday night, the Blues gave up a goal lead having dominated much of the first half before succumbing to two goals in four minutes from their hosts, raising more questions about the problems at Chelsea.
The major winners and losers from Sarri’s second Premier League defeat The Wolves reverse came just 11 days after Sarri’s men were beaten easily by rivals Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley, giving the Italian his first taste of defeat in competitive football at Chelsea.
Sarri did lose before the season started in the Community Shield, against Saturday’s opponents Manchester City, with the defending Premier League champions brushing through the FA Cup holders with ease. And Pep Guardiola’s men have built on that win domestically.
They are still unbeaten in the Premier League, having won 13 of their opening 15 games. On Tuesday, City overcame a tough test against Watford, winning 2-1 despite some late pressure to remain top of the Premier League table, two points clear of Liverpool in second.
City may still fancy their chances against a wounded Chelsea side on Saturday, but Sarri’s men go into the game with a point to prove.
Where can I watch live?
Chelsea’s game against Man City can be viewed by UK residents on BT Sport 1, channel 413 on Sky and channel 527, for Virgin Media users.
BT Sport subscribers can also watch the game online at sport.bt.com and via their BT Sport app.
Can Man City finish the league unbeaten?
Manchester City may have shown some signs of weaknesses in the Champions League, already losing in the group stage to Lyon, but Guardiola’s men are still unbeaten in domestic football with no signs of slowing down. With 15 games down, City have just four teams they are yet to play in the league: Chelsea, Leicester City, Crystal Palace and Everton. So far, Guardiola’s men have got through their previous tests relatively unscathed, scoring 45 goals and conceding just seven.
The Citizens have already overcome challenges from Liverpool, Manchester United, Tottenham and Arsenal, taking 10 points against those teams with only Liverpool holding City to a draw, with some fortune, as Riyad Mahrez missed a late penalty. City were close to going unbeaten last season, losing to just twice against Liverpool and Man United, but Guardiola seems to have learned from his mistakes and could genuinely go all the way.
What is going wrong at Chelsea?
Chelsea had started so well under Sarri, winning eight of their opening 12 games in the Premier League. But defeats against Tottenham and Wolves have brought the Blues back down to earth with a bump, ahead of Saturday’s tough test. Some have pointed out the problems in Chelsea’s system, with the Blues yet to really adapt to Sarrismo, but this is not something echoed by Sarri himself.
Six cracks beginning to appear in ‘Sarrismo’ at Chelsea Instead, the Italian believes Chelsea’s mentality is causing problems, with the Blues unable to respond to Wolves’ equaliser on Wednesday night. Speaking after the 2-1 defeat, Sarri said: “I think we played very well for 55 minutes. After the first goal — an accident because we were in full control of the match — we were suddenly another team. I don’t know why. I am really very worried, not for the result, but we didn’t react to the first goal at all. “We lost everything — our football, the result — after the goal. I don’t think it depended on the changes [to the starting XI], it depended on the mentality of the team. We can lose the match, but not without a reaction.
” Sarri has also commented on the mental fragility of striker Alvaro Morata, who looks bereft with confidence at times.
How can Sarri stop Man City?
In the past three games, Chelsea’s biggest weaknesses have started to be exposed with some players showing signs of faltering. Marcos Alonso has received much criticism for his poor performances against Fulham and Wolves, in particular, during which he has endured a tough time of things as he struggles to adapt to a more traditional left-back role, as opposed to that of a wing-back. Andreas Christensen also failed to impress in the defeat against Wolves, in which David Luiz was rested, and the Brazilian should return to form his partnership with Antonio Rudiger at the heart of Chelsea’s defence alongside Cesar Azpilicueta with Kepa Arrizabalaga in goal. In front of them, N’Golo Kante and Jorginho are certainties to start, though the third midfield position is slightly less certain.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek has impressed when given a chance and offers something different to Mateo Kovacic and Ross Barkley with a physical presence able to drive Chelsea forward, which they will need against a tough City midfield. Up front, Olivier Giroud has to start for both his link-up play with Eden Hazard, who has been struggling lately, and willingness to play without the ball as Chelsea are sure to do so. On the right, Pedro embodies Sarrismo more than Willian and should get the nod, able to influence the game with his runs both on and off the ball, as well as his pace to get at whoever Guardiola decides to use at left-back. Head-to-head After doing the double against City in 2016/17 en route to the Premier League title, Chelsea have lost their last three games against the Citizens in all competitions including the Community Shield in August. But the Blues still have the historical advantage, winning 66 to Man City’s 55 with 39 draws. Home wins: 66 Draws: 39 Away wins: 55
After making five changes for the defeat against Wolves, Chelsea boss Sarri is likely to return to his full strength XI with starts expected for David Luiz, Willian, Olivier Giroud and Jorginho. However, Ruben Loftus-Cheek could be rewarded for his recent good performances with a start. The Blues have no fresh injury concerns.
Meanwhile, City will also look to call upon their strongest XI for the trip to Stamford Bridge but will still be without first choice left-back Benjamin Mendy, so Fabian Delph looks likely to start with Oleksandr Zinchenko also out.
Predicted Chelsea XI: Arrizabalaga; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Alonso; Jorginho; Kante, Loftus-Cheke; Willian, Giroud, Hazard.
Predicted Man City XI: Ederson; Walker, Otamendi, Laporte, Delph; Fernandinho; D Silva, B Silva; Sterling, Aguero, Sane.
Manchester City look unbeatable at times and should have too much for a Chelsea side still finding themselves. 0-2 Man City.
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