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Manchester City and Chelsea’s success this season is inexorably linked. The Blues prevented the quadruple and may yet cancel a treble with a double of their own.
It sounds like a heavy drinking session, but it’s actually in reference to the trophies both can win in 2020/21. City already have the League Cup in their back pocket, but were knocked out of the FA Cup by Chelsea, while these sides will now clash in the Champions League final in Istanbul in three weeks’ time.
Saturday 17:30 – Man City v Chelsea
Sky Sports Main Event / Sky Sports Premier League
Add to that, Pep Guardiola’s side can clinch the league title if they win this match. Not bad for two teams who were eighth and fifth respectively in the table on Christmas Day. Since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013, Manchester City (with three) and Chelsea (two) account for five of the seven Premier League titles that have been won, and the former will secure another in due course.
Indeed, had match favourites Liverpool won at Old Trafford last weekend then the champions-elect would have completed the job already. Still, it’s more fun to get the job done yourself at home in front of, erm, nobody isn’t it?
Chelsea are red hot favourites to clinch a top-four berth, but they still need the points here more than City do in the grand scheme of things. The Blues’ remaining three fixtures this season are against teams they’ve taken the grand total of one point from so far in 2020/21, so anything they can get here will be most welcome.
Pep’s pups have also blown a chance to seal the league title in a big match on home turf in the past. Back in 2018, the Citizens went 2-0 up against Manchester United, yet conceded three in the second half to prolong their inevitable coronation for another week.
It’s always reassuring to know that the old City from before their big-money takeover is still in there now and then, bungling away. Nonetheless, they have had an extra day to prepare for this match, had a stroll against a ramshackle PSG when they did last play, and have won four of their last five home meetings with the Blues. City will win here to draw level with Aston Villa on seven league titles.
When looking back at the last three seasons of Premier League action, it would be natural to assume that this will be a high scoring encounter. Since the summer of 2018, there have been at least three goals in 38 of City’s home league games, which is the most for any team in the division.
It’s been similar for Chelsea on the road, with their total of 35 away matches which paid out on Over 2.5 goals also a Premier League high across the last three years. This fixture has played into those records, with the previous two Manchester meetings ending in 2-1 and 6-0 home wins.
However, only one of City’s four home games against a fellow European Super League (remember that?) team saw at least three goals this season, and we can be certain Chelsea won’t be as inept as Tottenham were at the Etihad back in February. Pretty much all the Blues’ matches under Tuchel have been low scoring, and this will be another with Under 2.5 goals.
The contrast between the Chelsea teams of Frank Lampard and Tuchel could not be more apparent. The Blues kept fewer clean sheets than the likes of Crystal Palace and Newcastle in 2019/20, but have been much harder to break down since the former PSG boss took control of the team.
Chelsea have shut out their opponents in 18 of their 24 matches under Tuchel and if City can take the lead, then they should be able to hold a weary Blues team at bay. One way or another, the score line should feature at least one-nil in this match.
It has been a rough couple of months for Raheem Sterling, who hasn’t scored for City since February and hasn’t started any of their last five matches in the Champions League. On that basis he makes for a strange choice here, but a goal is coming.
In his last nine league and European appearances, Sterling has amassed roughly two expected goals-worth of chances, and in the last four Premier League match weeks no player in the division has taken more shots without scoring. He should start here, and needs to impress quickly if he is to make Pep’s XI for the final in Istanbul. Sterling can end his goal drought to secure the title for City.
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