Last updated & checked: 10/08/2021
The Premier League’s reigning champions could be 90 minutes from what, for them, would absolutely constitute a crisis. Having gone into the international break off the back of a heavy 3-1 defeat at Anfield, Pep Guardiola now must look for three points against the Premier League’s form team. Chelsea, riding on the back of six consecutive wins in the league, currently lead City by a point, and have no reason to feel intimidated by an opponent that has already lost to Norwich and Wolves as well as Liverpool.
For Frank Lampard, this is a test of his side’s credibility as a challenger to the top two. Yes, they have won six league games in a row – but the six sides they have beaten all sit in the bottom half of the table at the beginning of this weekend. How will they fare against a credible title contender? Well, in their other games against members of the current top five, they’ve lost to Liverpool and drawn at home to Leicester and Sheffield United. They’ll need to ride their excellent momentum and hope that that, and City’s defensive injury crisis, are enough to get something here.
Manchester City vs Chelsea Prediction: Manchester City 3 Chelsea 2
Both of these sides know how to play attacking football, and have the players to do it. Neither of them, however, has a defensive record you’d want to take into a title race. It’s more understandable for City, who’ve seen an injury crisis strip them of their best centre-backs. Nonetheless, a club of their resources should be able to muster a better solution than picking a pair of midfielders in defence – and against the prolific Tammy Abraham, they’ll be taking a major risk by continuing to do so. For Chelsea, however, the question remains over whether they can keep a world-class attack like City’s at arm’s length – and the 17 goals they have already conceded this season (more than double Leicester’s total) does not inspire confidence.
Our recommended tip: City win and BTTS
After an international break, it is always hard to call a club match. Both teams have had two weeks to get any bad results out of their system, injuries on national duty can disrupt the natural rhythm, and there is a sense that both sides are trying to find their feet all over again. Both of these sides have been occasionally chaotic this season, and there is every reason to expect that this will still be the case this evening, leading to an interesting match full of goals. As the team with home advantage, City should prevail, and Betway’s odds of 8/5 on the home win with both sides scoring seems a smart punt.
The corresponding fixture last season saw the home side race out to a 4-0 lead within 25 minutes, eventually winning 6-0 as Raheem Sterling scored twice, Sergio Aguero helped himself to a hat-trick and Ilkay Gundogan also notched. It came at a particularly bad time for Blues boss Mauricio Sarri, who was facing a dressing-room mutiny which would end up costing him his job at the club. Earlier in the season, Chelsea did manage a 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge with NGolo Kante and David Luiz scoring the goals – but it was very much the silver lining amid a season that was mostly cloud.
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Players to watch: Kevin de Brune and NGolo Kante
Belgian midfield magician de Bruyne could have been lining up on the opposite side this evening, having been contracted to Chelsea from 2012 to 2014. That the Blues sold him to Wolfsburg for £18million was a move of unforgivable profligacy considering the essential role he has played in the last two years of success for Manchester City. A Chelsea side with his range of passing, footballing vision and ability to improvise would be a sight to see.
For the first two years of his Premier League career, everything was coming up Kante – first winning the title with Leicester, then moving to Chelsea and repeating the triumph a year later. However, Kante is now on his third manager in as many years, and each of them has had radically different ideas about where, and how, he should play. The fact that he has operated as a screening midfielder, a roaming creator and a box-to-box dynamo is impressive; he’ll be essential to Lampard’s game plan this evening.