It is the clash of the heavyweights on Saturday as Chelsea face off against Manchester City in Matchweek six of the 2021/22 Premier League.
The champions of England will lock horns with the champions of Europe in the Premier League this weekend, as Manchester City travel to Stamford Bridge to take on Chelsea in what will be a rematch of the last season’s UEFA Champions League final.
Chelsea have had the rub of the green against Manchester City in recent times having beaten them in each of their last three meetings, all under Thomas Tuchel, including the finals of the Champions League last term. Since then, the Blues have been on an upward trajectory, winning the UEFA Super Cup and now joint-topping the Premier League table, after an unbeaten start to the season.
Chelsea eased past London rivals Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 in the Premier League last week before beating Aston Villa on penalties in the Carabao Cup earlier in the week. And, Tuchel & co. will be aiming to extend their streak and strengthen their grip at the top of the standings.
Manchester City, meanwhile, have had a topsy-turvy start to the new season, having lost the FA Community Shield while also dropping five points in five games in the Premier League, most recently playing out a goalless draw against Southampton. However, Pep Guardiola’s men bounced back in indomitable fashion in midweek, thrashing Wycombe Wanderers 6-1 in the Carabao Cup contest in midweek.
Currently fifth in the league table, three points off of Chelsea, a win could allow the Premier League champions move to the top, provided results elsewhere go their away. And ahead of this blockbuster encounter coming our way from Stamford Bridge on Saturday afternoon, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.
Team News & Tactics
Chelsea have received a bit of mixed news on the injury front as Edouard Mendy has returned from injury after missing the last couple of matches and is set to start against Manchester City. However, Mason Mount is ruled out of the contest while Christian Pulisic is yet to recover completely from his injury either.
After 114 games at Chelsea, Mason Mount will miss his first game through injury this week.
— LDN (@LDNFootbalI) September 24, 2021
Tuchel is likely to revert to the 3-4-2-1 setup after switching to a four-man defence for the midweek clash. There will be changes made across the pitch, starting with goal, where Mendy will be returning while Cesar Azpilicueta, Thiago Silva and Antonio Rudiger all return to the lineup after being rested in midweek.
Reece James ought to be the right wing-back while Marcos Alonso comes in to replace Ben Chilwell on the left. The latter’s battle against Kyle Walker could make for an intriguing watch on Saturday. The onus will on the midfield duo of N’Golo Kante and Jorginho to curtail the influence of the Cityzens’ creators and allow Chelsea to stay in control of the proceedings.
With no Mount and Pulisic available, Hakim Ziyech is in line for a starting berth in one of the two attacking midfield slots for the Blues, while Kai Havertz ought to feature in the other spot. Timo Werner could also be an option, though, after having scored Chelsea’s only goal of the game against Aston Villa in midweek.
Romelu Lukaku, meanwhile, is the undisputed starter in the No. 9 role for Chelsea when Manchester City come visiting.
Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Mendy; Azpilicueta, Silva, Rudiger; James, Kante, Jorginho, Alonso; Ziyech, Havertz; Lukaku
On the eve of the game, Manchester City welcomed back the likes of John Stones, Aymeric Laporte and Rodri to full training. However, their involvement is not entirely certain at this point while Ilkay Gundogan and Oleksandr Zinchenko also remain major doubts for the contest.
Pep Guardiola will be making wholesale changes to his defence that started against Wycombe Wanderers as Ederson is set to return in goal while Ruben Dias and Nathan Ake form the centre-back pairing. Kyle Walker and Joao Cancelo are automatic picks in the full-back areas on the right and left sides, respectively.
With Rodri still not 100%, Fernandinho is expected to feature at the base of the three-man midfield unit for Manchester City. Kevin De Bruyne is a certain starter and will act as the visitors’ chief source of creativity with his deadly crosses and defence-splitting passes.
Phil Foden ought to complete the midfield trifecta for the Premier League champions, although Bernardo Silva could be an option considering the work-rate that he brings, which would come in handy against Chelsea. Gabriel Jesus has impressed in a new role in the right-wing and should start while club-record signing Jack Grealish takes up the left flank.
Up top, Ferran Torres, who scored in the midweek win, ought to start against Chelsea. The likes of Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez will be dangerous alternatives from the bench.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Ederson; Walker, Dias, Ake, Cancelo; De Bruyne, Fernandinho, Jones; Jesus, Torres, Grealish
- Chelsea have won their last three meetings with Manchester City in all competitions. They last had a longer winning run against the Cityzens between December 2005 and March 2009 (8 games).
- Manchester City have won three of their last six Premier League away games against Chelsea (L3), more than they had in their previous 23 visits to Stamford Bridge in the top flight (W2 D8 L13).
- None of the last 12 Premier League meetings between Chelsea and Manchester City have been drawn, with Chelsea winning five to City’s seven.
- Chelsea have kept 15 clean sheets in 24 Premier League games under Thomas Tuchel, more than any other side since the German took charge.
- Chelsea and Manchester City have the joint-best defensive records in the Premier League this season, with just one goal conceded each (also level with Liverpool).
Player to Watch
— Chelsea FC (@TheBlues_1905_) September 24, 2021
With so many superstars on either team, it promises to be an exciting match-up on Friday. While the likes of Phil Foden, Kevin De Bruyne have the ability to change the game in a minute’s spark, it is Romelu Lukaku that we have gone with as our Player to Watch for the blockbuster clash on Saturday.
At 28, the Belgian is in the peak years of his career and has been in top form since arriving at Chelsea. However, throughout his career, Lukaku has been accused of not delivering the goods against big clubs in big games. So, it becomes imperative that, in his second stint in London, the ex-Manchester United forward proves the naysayers wrong. A strong display against City would be the ideal catalyst.
Chelsea 1-1 Manchester City
Chelsea and Manchester City both possess the best defensive record in the league so far this term. Given how tight Chelsea have been at the back, the English champions will find it difficult to break them down, despite their stunning goalscoring exploits in the last game. At the same time, the Cityzens are no slouches at the back and Mount’s absence could hamper the home team going forward.
All things considered, a stalemate between the two of the strongest contenders for the Premier League title could very well be on the cards on Saturday.