Manchester City and Chelsea will lock horns in the marquee fixture of the weekend when they lock horns at the Etihad on Saturday.

The dreaded international break has ended and club football fans can now enjoy uninterrupted action for four months. In the Premier League, all eyes will be at the Etihad for the heavyweight clash of Gameweek 13, as stuttering champions Manchester City play hosts to Chelsea.

Manchester City are at their lowest ebb under the tutelage of Pep Guardiola, suddenly becoming the underdogs in the title race against Liverpool. The Premier League champions were thoroughly outplayed by the table toppers last time out, succumbing to a 3-1 defeat at Anfield, a result that left them nine points adrift of Jurgen Klopp’s high flying Reds.

Chelsea, on the other hand, have been going from strength to strength under Frank Lampard, especially in the Premier League, having won each of their last six games in the top-flight. The solid run of form has catapulted the Blues to third on the table, one point ahead of Manchester City. But, Lampard’s charges now face the biggest test of their credentials, with a hurting City side up next.

The corresponding fixture last season ended in a 6-0 rout of Chelsea, with Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling and Ilkay Gundogan on target for a rampant Manchester City side. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the Premier League encounter.

Team News & Tactics

Manchester City

Ederson is set to return. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Ederson is set to return. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Pep Guardiola has greeted a major positive update on the team news front ahead of the visit of Chelsea. On Saturday, the Manchester City manager is set to welcome Ederson Moraes back into his side after the Brazilian goalkeeper missed the 3-1 loss at Liverpool.

Ederson’s return will be a huge boost for Manchester City, with the first-choice custodian adding more solidity at the back. But, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Aymeric Laporte and Leroy Sane continue to deal with their respective knee injuries, while Bernardo Silva has been handed a one-match ban by the FA due to a controversial “racist” tweet.

Ahead of Ederson, the back four ought to see one change, with Benjamin Mendy returning as the left-back in place of Angelino. Kyle Walker should line up on the right side of the Manchester City defence, with John Stones and Fernandinho forming the central defensive partnership.

Rodri’s return last time out did not produce the desired result, but the Spaniard will have to be on the money to thwart Mason Mount in the middle of the park. Another boost is the return of the fit-again David Silva, who will combine with Kevin De Bruyne to provide the creative impetus for City.

Raheem Sterling is a player who needs to step up, having been inconsistent in the league lately. Sterling will start on the left side of City’s three-pronged attack, with Riyad Mahrez stepping in for Bernardo Silva. Sergio Aguero is likely to pip Gabriel Jesus to be City’s central striker against Chelsea.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Ederson; Walker, Stones, Fernandinho, Mendy; De Bruyne, Rodri; David Silva; Mahrez, Aguero, Sterling

City

Chelsea

Frank Lampard has a couple of fresh injury concerns to deal with ahead of the trip to face Manchester City. Against the Premier League champions on Saturday, the Chelsea manager could be without as many as five first-team players.

Antonio Rudiger (groin) and Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Achilles) are definite absentees. Ross Barkley is likely to miss out as well due to his ongoing battle with an ankle injury. Another player who might not travel to take on Manchester City is Callum Hudson-Odoi, who picked up a hamstring injury while representing England in the international break.

Hudson-Odoi is unlikely to be involved, but there is some good news. Christian Pulisic had been struggling with a hip injury throughout the international break. But, the USMNT international has trained this week and could make the starting lineup against Manchester City.

Pulisic’s potential availability creates a problem of plenty, with Jorginho available after serving his suspension last time out. Jorginho is an automatic pick for Chelsea, with N’Golo Kante and the in-form Mateo Kovacic expected to start as well.

Mason Mount ought to be a part of the eleven too, meaning Pulisic could be relegated to the bench, with Lampard likely to favour Willian’s work-rate against a tricky Manchester City to Pulisic’s flair. One position where there is no debate as to who will start is the striker’s berth, with Tammy Abraham set to lead the line for Chelsea.

At the back, the four-man defensive line picks itself, with Emerson Palmieri and Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta being the full-back pairing, while Kurt Zouma will have Fikayo Tomori as his partner at the heart of the Chelsea defence. Kepa Arrizabalaga will start in goal, where he should be kept busy.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Kepa; Azpilicueta, Zouma, Tomori, Emerson; Kante, Jorginho, Kovacic; Willian, Abraham, Mount

Chelsea

Betting Odds

Probables:

1. Both Teams to Score – YES @ 1.57

Outside Chance:

1. Raheem Sterling to score 2 or more @ 5.00

Key Stats

  • Manchester City have prevailed in five of their last six meetings with Chelsea across all competitions, keeping five clean sheets in the process.
  • Chelsea are looking to win eight consecutive away games in all competitions for the first time in their history.
  • Chelsea are winless in 10 Premier League away matches against fellow ‘Big Six’ sides.
  • Sergio Aguero has scored 10 Premier League goals against Chelsea, more than any other player in the competition’s history.
  • Tammy Abraham is the highest away scorer in the Premier League this season, with seven strikes to his name.

Player to Watch

Raheem Sterling

Sterling needs to step up. (Photo by Paul Ellis/AFP via Getty Images)

Sterling needs to step up. (Photo by Paul Ellis/AFP via Getty Images)

One look at Sterling’s record in the Premier League this season and you might say that seven goals in 11 outings is quite decent. But, consistency is what has been lacking from Sterling’s game so far in the current campaign, particularly in the Premier League.

Far too often, the star forward has gone missing from games. But, with Manchester City not having any more margin for errors, Sterling is a player who really needs to step up and bring an end to the fluctuations in his performances. And, what better way to bring an end to the inconsistencies than with a solid showing in a high stakes game against Chelsea?

Prediction

Manchester City 2-1 Chelsea

Manchester City seem to have taken a step backwards in the first three months of the season and will be hurting after the big defeat to Liverpool before the international break. Chelsea, on the other hand, are perhaps, the most dangerous Premier League team on the road. This match, thus, has all the makings of a classic.

Pep Guardiola will demand a response from his players after a convincing loss at Anfield and Chelsea’s defensive frailties will give the hosts a constant look-in. But, City have problems of their own at the back, meaning the match is unlikely to be short of goalmouth action.

Expect a keenly contested affair, but one that could see Manchester City edge the high flying Blues by the odd goal. The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-1 win for the Premier League champions, with Chelsea’s magnificent away run coming to an end.

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