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Chelsea and Manchester City won’t mind if this is the first in a trilogy of meetings before the 2020/21 season is out. They are set to clash at the Etihad in early May, and an all-English Champions League final in Istanbul remains a possibility at this point.
A look at a mini-league of the big six clubs this season would suggest this match will be no contest. Pep Guardiola’s side are second in the standings behind Liverpool on goals scored alone, while The Blues are rooted to the bottom of the table with only two wins from eight games.
But, there’s an important distinction to be made here. Under Frank Lampard’s guidance, Chelsea drew two and lost three of their most important league matches this term – scoring just twice while conceding eight times.
Saturday 17:30 – Chelsea v Man City
Since Thomas Tuchel was appointed, they have two wins and a draw, and their defence has remained un-breached. Whether keeping clean sheets against a shot-shy Tottenham and a painfully out of form Liverpool counts for much remains to be seen though.
Nonetheless it’s an impressive change in form, and Chelsea would have also negotiated four Champions League knockout games without conceding a goal were it not for Mehdi Taremi’s fantastic 92nd minute effort on Tuesday. In fact, if you look at the underlying statistics for the Premier League this season, then you’ll find that these have been the best two teams in the division. Don’t be surprised if these clubs are tussling for the title in 2022.
However, before they get to that, they have the FA Cup to sort out and let’s be honest, whoever gets through this tie will probably win the competition. Chelsea have shorter odds than Southampton to lift the famous old trophy even though Paddy only gives them around a 30 percent chance of getting through here.
But, Paddy is underestimating their chances. The Blues have a great affinity with the FA Cup, and have won more semi-finals than any other team in the Premier League era. City’s record at this stage isn’t too inspiring either, with a 1-0 win over Brighton in 2019 their only semi-final triumph from three attempts on Guardiola’s watch.
Of course, nobody would be surprised if they won here, they’re too good to ever be written off entirely before any match. A +1 handicap bet on Chelsea looks to be the way to go though, as they rarely fail to score and don’t concede many goals (unless they’re facing the majesty of a Sam Allardyce team).
And let’s not forget that when these teams last met at Wembley – for the 2019 League Cup final – it finished 0-0 after extra time, despite Kepa Arrizabalaga throwing a tantrum and refusing to come in when Maurizio Sarri told him his tea was ready.
But, although that shows Chelsea can hold City at bay in big games, their three meetings since have seen both sides find the back of the net. Despite possessing the two best defensive records in the Premier League, these teams have looked strangely susceptible recently in terms of goals if not total shots conceded.
Leeds and Crystal Palace had the sum total of three shots against these teams last weekend, but had three goals to show for their efforts. With form at the back like that, both teams will score here.
And with at least one goal apiece in this match, it’s not stretching things much to think there might be at least one more somewhere.
After all, the aforementioned League Cup final is the only one of the last five clashes between these teams that didn’t feature at least three goals, and three of them paid out on Over 2.5 Goals within the opening 37 minutes of the match.
This might be cagier, and more like a final, but City always create chances while Chelsea scored at least twice in their five matches prior to Porto this week (and they didn’t need to net there) so expect goals.
Both managers are blessed with so much attacking talent in their squads that it’s always difficult to know which multi-million-pound signing to pick for a goal scorer bet. Guardiola and Tuchel have countless selection options, and will view this as less important than many of the matches which lie ahead this season.
Prior to their match in Germany, six of City’s last seven goals had been scored by different players. For Chelsea, Christian Pulisic scored in two of their three games prior to their mid-week blank, and he is also the one forward who has started both of their FA Cup matches under their present boss.
That combination of facts makes him a worthy choice for a goal scorer bet, though if ever a match cried out for team news before having a flutter in this market, this might be it.
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