Saturday 3rd December. 12:30PM. Sky Sports 1
Another crucial weekend of Premier League action starts with a huge clash at the Etihad as league leaders Chelsea visit third-placed Manchester City and, with the winner guaranteed to occupy top spot until Sunday, both teams will be desperate to register a big result.
Given that these sides are the current top two as far as the bookies are concerned, three points for either side would fire a huge warning shot to their rivals. Both teams have had a change of management since the Citizens registered 3-0 wins both home and away in 2015-16, and this year’s clash should be far closer and far more exciting for the neutral.
Bring it on!
Pep Pressure To Overcome Chelsea Efficieny?
Of all the new managers to enter the Premier League back in the summer, Pep Guardiola is easily the one that most fans were excited to see in action. And while it’s Antonio Conte who has gained the biggest plaudits in recent weeks, the former Barcelona and Bayern coach has made a big impact at the Etihad. A win against their huge title rivals could go a long way to underlining those sentiments here.
The Citizens did endure a difficult patch but are now six games unbeaten in all competitions and find themselves in the Champions League knockouts as well as the Premier League title race. With Yaya Toure back in the frame, Sergio Aguero scoring freely, and the summer signings gelling, Guardiola will be quietly happy of where his team currently stands.
Nevertheless, this is a huge test for the Citizens. If they pass it as they did the test against Barcelona, then they could end the weekend top of the pile – at the start of such an important month, that could be massive for their momentum.
City have the players and a manager who will almost certainly have a few tactical aces up his sleeve to battle Chelsea’s efficient 3-4-3 formation. With the Etihad set to provide a great atmosphere too, it has the makings of a major moment in their season.
Can Blues Make It Eight In A Row?
While City’s credentials cannot be ignored, Chelsea are undeniably the Premier League’s form team right now. Not only are they sitting pretty at the top of the pile, but the Blues are on a run of seven straight wins since adopting their new tactical approach. If they leave Manchester with three points, their place as title favourites will be assured.
Chelsea did finally concede against Spurs last weekend, but Conte will have been pleased to see his side bounce back to win the game, underlining their mental strength as well as their technical brilliance. Against such formidable opponents, those factors could be pivotal for the visitors.
Conte has found a winning formula, with Diego Costa and Eden Hazard looking particularly exciting in front of a very solid foundation. However, a game in which they might not see too much of the ball will offer a new challenge, so it will be intriguing to see how they cope.
Whatever happens, it should be a thrilling encounter to kickstart the weekend’s action. We wouldn’t want to miss it for the world.
Manchester City v Chelsea Betting
Home side Manchester City have been established as the pre-game favourites at odds of 11/10 with Bet365, but Chelsea won’t be ruled out at 23/10. Alternatively, the draw can be backed at 12/5.
While Chelsea have kept a lot of clean sheet in recent times, City’s last five matches have ended in BTTS winners. With home advantage on their side, we think the goals will continue in this intense battle.
Both teams have numerous potential scorers, but Aguero probably pips Costa as the most natural finisher on the pitch. The Argentina star has 33 in his last 34 league appearances. We’re backing him to continue that run in style.
It should be an intense battle to say the least. Nevertheless, both managers are tactically very astute. If either team is winning heading into the closing stages, they should have the game management skills to see it out.
With this in mind, we’re backing no late goal.