In one of the most awaited Premier League fixtures since beginning of 2015, league leaders Chelsea will play host to second-placed Manchester City on Saturday. The thrilling encounter might prove to be the eventual title decider.
Jose Mourinho’s side are all set to extend their five-point lead over the Citizens to eight. But not to forget, the defending champions are the only team that has given real competition to us in the title race this season. So if Chelsea are to give one of their best performances of this campaign, this is just the right time.
Let’s have a look at our next opponents in our Opposition Scouting Report:
THE TEAM AND THE RECENT FORM
Manchester City FC, based in the city of Manchester, England was founded in 1880. They played at Maine Road since 1923, until 2003, when they were shifted to the City of Manchester Stadium or better known as Etihad Stadium. Their most successful period came in 1960s and early 1970s, when they won the League Championship, FA Cup, League Cup and European Cup Winners’ Cup. After losing the final of FA Cup in 1981, the club went through a series of declines and ended up being relegated to the third tier by 1998. After regaining their place in Premier League, the club was purchased by Abu Dhabi United Group and has since become one of the wealthiest clubs in the world owing to Arab money.
In 2011, Manchester City qualified for the UEFA Champions League and won the FA Cup. The following year, they won the Premier League, their first league title after 44 years and the first Premier League title for any club that has played in the third tier of English football since 1980. In 2014, they won the League Cup and a second Premier League title.
The team managed by Manuel Pellegrini is placed second to top placed Chelsea. With 14 wins, 5 draws and 3 losses, they have managed 47 points in 22 games. They have not won any of their last three games, losing their last two against Arsenal in Premier League and getting eliminated from the FA Cup at the hands of Middlesbrough both by the same scoreline of 2-0.
FORMATION AND STYLE OF PLAY
Pellegrini’s’s team has squared up in a traditional 4-4-2 system for most part of the season. As has always been the case, the 4-4-2 formation relies on versatile full-backs, strong centre-backs, all-round central midfielders, creative wide players and a productive forward partnership.
For some games, they have opted a 4-2-3-1 formation, as was the case against Tottenham Hotspur in October. The result was an astounding 4-1 win for City and all goals scored by their striker, Sergio Aguero.
As one would expect from the champions, Manchester City play aggressive, powerful, possession-based style of football. Pellegrini’s side can create chances with their short passing game and defence-splitting through balls. Meanwhile, the likes of David Silva and Sergio Aguero are adept at using their low centres of gravity and perfectly honed technical skills to open up space in and around the opposition penalty area.
With two attacking full-backs and their propensity to take one in three shots from outside the penalty area, City are extremely difficult to stop.
STRENGTH – KEY PLAYERS
Sergio Aguero: The 26-year-old striker was left out of action for almost a month, after suffering from an injury over the months of December and early January. But the striker is now fit and will be leading City’s line at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. In his 17 appearances this season, having made 14 starts out of them, he has netted 14 goals and has 3 assists to his name. Known to be the best striker in EPL over the last few seasons, Sergio Aguero can be the key to breaking Chelsea’s defence considering the striker’s impression of being a world-class dribbler. Also, he can get his teammates involved in the game due to his impressive ability to hold on to the ball and provide key passes.
Frank Lampard: Whether in the starting lineup or playing as a substitute, Frank Lampard has never failed to make an impact in the game for Man City. One such impact was the late equalizer he scored for his new club against his previous one, when the two sides met in the reverse fixture earlier this season. In 17 appearances, 14 as a substitute, he has been able to find the net on 5 occasions and has also created 1 assist. In the absence of Yaya Toure, Lampard can be the man for Pellegrini’s side to provide the connection between the midfield and the two forwards.
According to whoscored, Manchester City have developed a weakness of defending counter attacks and being unable to win their aerial duels. And the lack of ability to defend counter attacks properly often leads them to make harsh challenges out of nervousness. One of their other weaknesses is that they give away fouls in dangerous areas. And this indeed, is the biggest of all.
The defending champions are not the same side without their talisman, Yaya Toure, who is out on international duty at AFCON. The absence of Yaya Toure has broken up the only link between the midfield and attack. As has been evident in their last few games, the midfielders and the two forwards look clueless after being completely disconnected with each other.
HEAD TO HEAD
Both the sides have met 142 times overall. While have Chelsea won 57 of these games; City have won 47. Both have settled for a draw on 38 occasions. In the last 5 games between the two, Chelsea have won 2, City with 1, and 2 games have ended in a draw.
Considering Yaya Toure’s absence and City’s poor recent form, Chelsea may seem to have the upper hand. But the absence of Diego Costa, who is out due to suspension, and Cesc Fabregas, who is doubtful due to an injury, can be enough to make this an equal competition. No bets and predictions are going to work for this one! Come on Chelsea!
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Edited By: Vikram Vadiganeni