Manchester City get set to face their biggest test of the season in the form of Antonio Conte’s resurgent Chelsea side who have stormed past them to the top of the league.
This season’s biggest Premier League imports are set to go head to head in a battle of wits on Saturday as Manchester City host Chelsea in a tie that could have massive effect on both side’s title chances later in the season. Both managers took the time to provide injury updates and gave their thoughts on each other going into this tie.
Barring the absence of captain Vincent Kompany, Pep Guardiola announced in his pre match press conference that he had a fully fit squad at his disposal. “Everybody is fit,” said the Spaniard.
The Citizens were given a few days off in the week in order to re-energise for this huge clash. “We were 11, 12, 13 days without a day off. I like to give day off to the players when you have a lot of games in a row. That’s why we had two days off and we were training three days, to prepare, not only for the game against Chelsea, but the next ones too”. [via mancity.com]
It was understandable, given that the ‘next ones’ include Celtic in a Champions League clash, Champions Leicester City, Arsenal and Liverpool in what is set to be a difficult and rigorous December. However, their focus will be on the upcoming clash against Chelsea and will surely fancy their chances, having an injury free and fully fit starting XI. Raheem Sterling, Ilkay Gundogan, John Stones have all recovered and even Fabian Delph is available for selection after recovering from a long term injury.
Speaking about his Chelsea counterpart, the former Barcelona and Bayern manager had nothing but positive things to say. “Conte is one of the best coaches in the world right now, It is the first time we are going to face each other — it’s good to play against him,” he said. He went on to praise the ‘exceptional’ work he did with Juventus and the Italian national team and said “It doesn’t matter if it is Serie A or the national team, you realise his strengths.” Guardiola insisted that the Blues were in contention for the title from the beginning, but now maybe even more so. [via ESPN]
Antonio Conte said in his pre-match press conference that there was no new injury news, but he had to assess the fitness of ‘one or two’ of his players before deciding tomorrow’s starting XI. He politely declined to disclose the names of said players, preferring to keep his silence. However, it is likely that captain John Terry will miss out like his Manchester City counterpart. John Obi Mikel may be fit but his inclusion is unlikely.
There is no reason to expect a different starting lineup from last week’s London derby victory against Tottenham. Despite the returns and availability of Willian, Oscar, Fabregas and Ivanovic, it seems unlikely that Victor Moses, Pedro, Matic and Marcos Alonso will be replaced, given their fantastic form, the results being produced and the collective understanding within the team.
The Chelsea manager was full of praise for his opponent, saying “I have great respect for him because he likes to study football, he likes to find a new solution.” He went on to state that it was not easy transfer one’s idea of football to when you have an idea to transfer it in a short period of time and went on to say
“But he is a fantastic manager and he’s doing fantastic work at Manchester City. He’s found a good situation in Manchester City.” He went on to add that “When I see them, I see the idea of football, I like this and for me Pep is doing fantastic work.” [via Daily Star]