City of Manchester Stadium
Saturday 3rd December 2016
Top versus third, one point between them, identical ‘goals for’ records, and both teams boasting the league’s top scorers as well as arguably its most creative talents. Oh, and both sides with managers only a matter of months into their Premier League adventures. It’s City versus Chelsea at the Etihad, and something has to give.
Does anyone else feel like Pep Guardiola has been in charge of Manchester City much longer than his actual 13 Premier League games? It may have only been a matter of months, but it’s already been a rollercoaster ride for City and their superstar manager. First there was the applause of early tactical changes feeding into positive results, followed by a lull in form which reached its nadir in a hammering at the hands of his old side Barcelona in the Champions League, followed by an upturn in performances which has culminated, rather surprisingly, in a recall for the once ostracised Yaya Toure. Kun Aguero has been Kun Ageruo – scoring goals for fun to top the scoring charts once more – while Kevin De Bruyne has shown glimpses of being the league’s most complete player. Defensively the Citizens have been at times suspect, just as they were last campaign under Manuel Pellegrini, but this is still very much an early work-in-progress for Guardiola and his new charges, especially John Stones who could yet become the playmaking centre half all City and England fans hope he can be. Champions League progress is assured, and sitting only one point behind the Premier League leaders entering December, it’s a job so well done for Pep and his players so far.
Last week’s victory over rivals Tottenham catapulted Chelsea to their seventh consecutive Premier League win, their best run in seven years. It’s difficult to remember the time when, after losing 3-0 at the Emirates on 24th September, Antonio Conte’s side slipped to tenth in the table, eight points behind leaders City. That’s when this emphatic run began, and with the Blues boasting the best defence in the league after Conte remoulded his troops into a back five, and the creativity of old back on show, the signs look ominous for the London side’s title rivals. Diego Costa sits joint-top of the Premier League scoring charts (alongside Aguero) with 10 goals, Eden Hazard is back to the imperious form which made him the league’s best player in 2014/15, and Victor Moses is surely the most improved player in the country (if not in all Europe). New signings N’Golo Kante and David Luiz have slipped in seamlessly to the team, and a fully-fledged assault on the title in Conte’s first season in charge seems likely. Whisper it quietly, but no European distractions could also work in the team’s favour.
Head-to-head and team news
Despite both sides suffering varying degrees of disappointment last season, it was City who prevailed comfortably in both league meetings. Aguero notched a total of four goals in two emphatic 3-0 victories, but Chelsea’s defence is surely a different proposition this time round. Last season’s results aside, victories in league meetings between the two in recent memory have been relatively evenly shared. Prior to 2015/16, the two sides had played out three draws, with Chelsea winning four times to City’s three. At the Etihad, City have sent the Londoners home empty handed in three of their last five visits in the Premier League.
For the home side, Raheem Sterling should have recovered from a knock picked up against Burnley last time out, but Vincent Kompany remains sidelined. Fabian Delph continues to return to full fitness after a long-term groin injury. For the visitors, John Terry and John Obi Mikel could be in contention for a squad place, but neither are likely to trouble a starting line-up which appears to be picking itself at this stage.
The stats that matter
- Chelsea have won seven league games in succession for the first time since 2009 (when they won 11 consecutive games spanning the end of the 2008/09 campaign and the start of 2009/10).
- Only Liverpool have scored more Premier League goals (32) than Manchester City and Chelsea this season (both 29).
- Chelsea have the joint-best defensive record in the league, alongside Tottenham (both 10). City and Southampton boast the next meanest defensives, having both conceded 12 times.
- Diego Costa has been involved in 14 goals in the league this season (10 goals and 4 assists), the joint highest in Europe’s Big 5 leagues (along with Roma’s Edin Dzeko and Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang).
- Sergio Aguero has scored 8 goals in 11 games against Chelsea, including twice in two matches for previous club Atletico Madrid.
Both teams like to score, yet both teams have relatively tight defences. However, on closer inspection, City have failed to keep a clean sheet in 11 of their 13 Premier League games to date, while at the same time have only failed to score in one. Similarly, Chelsea have also only failed to score on one occasion in the league this season, but have kept a clean sheet in 7 of their 13 games to date
Match Odds – Draw 3.60 (Selected)
Both Teams To Score – Yes 1.62 (BoyleSports / 188Bet / 10Bet)
Asian Handicap – Chelsea +0.5 1.80 (BetVictor)
Correct Score – 1-1 7.50 (William Hill / BetVictor)