Manchester City find themselves in a very strange position in the Premier League: closer to Sheffield United than Liverpool. Pep Guardiola’s team need to bounce back from their defeat at Anfield prior to the international break, and what better side to face than Chelsea?
Wait, what? Chelsea, who are actually ahead of City in the table?
Yeah. Frank Lampard’s team are doing a lot better than many people predicted, but their impressive record has been built on eight wins and two draws from their 10 matches against clubs from outside the top flight’s traditional top six. Against their fellow big boys, Chelsea have played two and lost two.
And in fairness to Frank, this issue predates his time in the Stamford Bridge hot seat, particularly when away from home. In August 2017, the Blues won 2-1 at Spurs, but in their 10 league trips to face other top sides since, Chelsea have amassed just three points, with the run including two defeats at the Etihad.
You won’t need reminding that this fixture ended 6-0 last season, in the most recent example of Chelsea’s squad deciding they’ve had enough of their manager. That won’t be happening on Saturday, but with City having won eight and drawn one of their last 10 home league games against the big clubs, it’s hard to look past Pep’s pups getting their title challenge back on track.
The odds of 4/11 for a City win are very skinny though. Ahead of this match last season I suggested the handicap bet of Man City -1 was worth considering, and the champions found themselves two goals up after 13 minutes and didn’t look back. Chelsea’s last five ‘big six’ defeats on the road have all been by at least two goals, so take the handicap bet once again.
The form of both of these teams this season suggests this will be a goal fest, a carnival of entertainment for your Saturday evening.
The only team whose league matches have featured more goals than Chelsea’s total of 44 this season is Manchester City, whose tally is 48. They’ve both had European matches which have featured at least six goals this season too.
Since Pep took charge at the Etihad, 12 of City’s 16 home games against other top sides have paid out on over 2.5 goals, and this one should do likewise.
But based on the recent history between these teams, that’s not to say both teams will score. At least one of the sides has failed to net in the last six meetings. Chelsea have also only scored in two of their last six visits to the blue half of Manchester, and in the earlier of the two Frank Lampard scored. For City. Isn’t it weird which transfers you forget about entirely?
I think the Blues will score here though. Chelsea are the joint-top scorers of counter attack goals in the top flight this season, with all of their strikes coming away from home. Wolves won at the Etihad by hitting City on the break twice, so Lamps’ lads can use that as their route to goal in an entertaining defeat.
I’ll wager you don’t know who has scored half of Chelsea’s away goals in league matches against other teams from the big six since the start of 2017/18.
It’s Marcos Alonso, and I bet even he doesn’t know that. A far more likely scorer would appear to be Tammy Abraham, the Premier League’s top scorer of away goals in 2019/20.
But if you’re after better value, I’d go for Willian. The Brazilian netted in Chelsea’s last win at City, and he’s also scored at Anfield and Old Trafford in the last couple of years. He’s been taking more shots than ever before and has missed a pair of clear-cut chances recently too. He’s been in the right place to miss them, Jeff, so might score here.
Hey, Pep. How many times has Sergio Agüero scored a hat-trick against Chelsea? Twice, you say? If only I had a desperately tired meme to insert into the article here.
Chelsea fans might just recall that one of them occurred in this fixture last season, and it went a third of the way toward Agüero’s tally of nine goals in the big six mini league since the start of 2018/19. No player has scored more, and all nine have been at the Etihad. You know what to do.