Preview: Chelsea vs. Manchester City – prediction, team news, lineups
One of the standout matches on the Premier League calendar will take place at Stamford Bridge on Saturday afternoon, as early league leaders Chelsea welcome the reigning champions Manchester City.
Chelsea top the table with 13 points to show from their opening five matches, while Man City occupy fifth, having collected 10 points from their first five league games of the 2021-22 campaign.
Not too much can be read into the league table at this stage of the season, but there is no question that Chelsea have made an encouraging start, winning four of their five matches, drawing the other, to collect 13 points, which has left them at the top of the division heading into the next set of fixtures.
The Blues are actually on a run of four straight wins in all competitions, having overcome Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League, in addition to beating Zenit St Petersburg and Villa in the Champions League and EFL Cup respectively during an impressive run of form.
Thomas Tuchel’s side have only conceded once in the league this term and have been impressive on their travels, beating Arsenal and Tottenham, in addition to drawing 1-1 at Liverpool while playing with 10 men.
Chelsea will be looking to send out a statement to the rest of the division this weekend, and the Blues are being tipped by many to win a seventh English top-flight title this term and their first since 2016-17, but at this early stage of the season, four teams, including Man City, are seen as potential challengers.
The capital outfit have won each of their last three games against the Citizens, including a 1-0 victory in last season’s Champions League final, although the last Premier League meeting between the two teams at Stamford Bridge ended in a 3-1 success for the visitors back in January.
Like Chelsea, Man City managed to advance to the fourth round of the EFL Cup during the week, recording a 6-1 victory over Wycombe Wanderers at the Etihad Stadium, but Pep Guardiola’s side were held to a goalless draw by Southampton in the Premier League last weekend.
It is hardly time to hit the panic button, but the reigning champions have dropped points in two of their five league games this term, having also lost to Tottenham on the opening weekend. The gap to first spot, though, is just three points and that could evaporate on Saturday afternoon.
Man City’s failure to land a centre-forward over the summer has certainly opened the team up to criticism, and they were frustrated by Southampton at the Etihad Stadium in their last league encounter.
Guardiola will be hopeful of responding in the perfect style at Stamford Bridge on Saturday afternoon, but the fact that the Citizens have lost their last three games against Chelsea could be a factor, especially as the home side look to be full of confidence under brilliant tactician Tuchel.
It is a huge period of the season for Man City, as they will take on Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League next week before travelling to Liverpool in the league next weekend, and it will be fascinating to see the state of affairs at the Etihad Stadium heading into the October international break.
Chelsea Premier League form:
Chelsea form (all competitions):
Manchester City Premier League form:
Manchester City form (all competitions):
Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy has missed his team’s last two matches due to a knock, but Tuchel is hopeful that the club’s number one will be able to recover in time for Saturday’s contest.
Christian Pulisic remains a doubt with an ankle problem, but the Blues are otherwise in excellent shape, meaning that Tuchel has decisions to make, particularly in midfield.
N’Golo Kante could replace Mateo Kovacic in the middle of the park, while Mendy is in line to return in goal, but it might otherwise be the same side that took to the field against Spurs in the league last weekend, with Kai Havertz and Mason Mount again supporting centre-forward Romelu Lukaku.
As for Man City, Guardiola has a number of selection problems, with Rodri, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Ilkay Gundogan all facing battles to be available for the contest.
John Stones and Aymeric Laporte are both out, meanwhile, meaning that Nathan Ake will again line up in the middle of the defence alongside Ruben Dias.
Gundogan appears to have the best chance of the doubtful players to be available, so the Germany international could feature alongside Fernandinho and Kevin De Bruyne in a midfield three.
Gabriel Jesus, meanwhile, might get the nod over Riyad Mahrez alongside Jack Grealish and Ferran Torres in attack, but fit-again Phil Foden is also now an option for the reigning champions.
Chelsea possible starting lineup:
Mendy; Christensen, T Silva, Rudiger; Azpilicueta, Kante, Jorginho, Alonso; Mount, Lukaku, Havertz
Manchester City possible starting lineup:
Ederson; Walker, Dias, Ake, Cancelo; De Bruyne, Fernandinho, Gundogan; Jesus, Torres, Grealish
We say: Chelsea 1-1 Manchester City
It is still very early in the season, but there is simply no downplaying the importance of this match. Both managers will be desperate to put down a marker, but it is likely to be a tight and cagey affair at Stamford Bridge, and we have had to settle on a low-scoring draw, which both teams would probably take.