Despite the Premier League returning just over a week ago, the fixtures continue to come thick and fast. Next up, Manchester City travel to Stamford Bridge where they’ll face Frank Lampard’s Chelsea.
Pep Guardiola’s side have undoubtably come out of the post-lockdown blocks the quickest – with two emphatic wins from their first two fixtures. The first was the 3-0 win against Arsenal, where City simply were just too good for the Gunners, while the latest win came on Monday night as Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez were the stars in a third successive 5-0 thrashing of Burnley.
The next seven days are expected to be much tougher for City however, with Thursday night’s game against Chelsea and an eagerly anticipated clash against Liverpool coming either side of a crucial FA Cup quarter-final with Newcastle United at the weekend.
With City well aware that any slip up would likely mean they face Liverpool without Champion status for the first time in over two years, the first of these testing fixtures comes against Frank Lampard’s young and ambitious Chelsea side, who are currently leading the five horse race for 4th spot and the final Champions League place.
Sergio Agüero has undergone surgery in Barcelona after damaging his meniscus in the first half against Burnley. He is rumoured to be out for five/six weeks and hopes to recover in time for the restart of the Champions League in August. He, along with Eric Garcia, won’t be available for Thursday’s game, with the latter still recovering from concussion after colliding with Ederson towards the end of the Arsenal match.
Claudio Bravo and John Stones, who are both to yet feature in a matchday squad are in contention to be involved against Chelsea after recovering from hamstring and ankle injuries.
Former reported Manchester City target Jorginho will be able to play after serving a two-match suspension. Callum Hudson-Odoi and Fikayo Tomori both missed Chelsea’s trip to the midlands on Sunday.
Head To Head
Thursday night’s meeting will be the 165th between City and Chelsea, with City having won six of the last seven games in all competitions – by an aggregate score of 12-3. They have kept a clean sheet in all of those victories except for the reverse league meeting back in November, where City came from behind to beat Chelsea 2-1.
It will be Pep Guardiola’s tenth time going up against Chelsea as Blues boss, but he will of course be without Sergio Agüero, who has an exemplary record against Chelsea with 13 goals – including two hat-tricks. If Guardiola is to hand an appearance to David Silva, then he will join the legendary Bert Trautmann with 22 appearances against the South London side – the joint most for any City player.
Since the first game back in December 1907, City have won 58, drawn 39 and lost 67 of the past 164 games with 212 goals scored and 228 conceded. City even went on a shambolic run between 2005 and 2009 where they lost eight consecutive league games against the pensioners.
As well as two wins in the past matches, City come into the fixtures having won four of their last five league matches, with the exception being the 2-0 derby defeat back in March. Despite the 20 point gap between themselves and first place, if City were to win then they would open up a 15 point gap between 2nd and 4th, coming extremely close qualifying for the Champions League for a 10th successive season.
Although Sergio Agüero’s golden boot hopes have been dashed due to the season-ending injury domestically at least, Kevin De Bruyne remains on course to to achieve the most assists both this season, but also ever. The midfielder is just four more direct involvements away from Theirry Henry’s record; which stands at 20. Rodri has also made 260 more passes than any Chelsea player this term with 2121 completed.
Chelsea are yet to play a game at Stamford Bridge since the return of the Premier League, but they did beat relegation-threatened Aston Villa 2-1 at Villa Park in their first game. Despite falling behind late in the first half, two goals in two minutes from Christian Pulisic and Olivier Giroud a 15th league victory.
Overall, Frank Lampard’s team are unbeaten in their past four league fixtures but have struggled for goals this season having scored 53, and averaging 1.77 a game as opposed to City who average 2.53. They have also struggled to keep clean sheets having not conceded in just six games so far this season.
Stuart Attwell, who is currently refereeing his fourth the consecutive season in the top-flight after being re-promoted to the Premier League in 2016/17, will be in charge of proceedings in the capital. The 37-year-old, who was once the youngest ever Premier League referee, hasn’t officiated Manchester City in any competitions yet this season, but has been in charge of Chelsea on three occasions in the league.
He will be joined by assistant referees Lee Betts and Constantine Hatzidakis, while Kevin Friend will be the fourth official. Craig Pawson will be operating as VAR alongside AVAR, Stephen Child.
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