Two title challengers face off this Saturday as Manchester City look to extend their unbeaten Premier League record. They travel to Stamford Bridge to meet Chelsea side, who has hit top form over the last few weeks.
The past does not favour The Citizens as they make the long trip to London as no side has beaten Man City in the Premier League era more than Chelsea (24).
Yet it must be taken into account the incredible strides that Pep Guardiola’s has taken over the past decade, as Sheik Mansour’s wealth fueled them into one of the most formidable powerhouses in English soccer.
Since the takeover, the gap between Chelsea and Man City has shrunk, with the last five meetings between the two just leaning in Chelsea’s favour (three Chelsea wins and two Manchester City wins).
Guardiola’s men have the joint best defensive record in the Premier League this season, conceding just two.
This season, Pep’s men have hit form early, being just one of two teams still unbeaten in the Premier League. In fact, City has won nine of their last 10 Premier League matches, spanning from their 5-0 home win against Crystal Palace in May.
Meanwhile, Antonio Conte’s men have gone unbeaten in the Premier League since their opening day hiccup against Burnley, and have won 10 of their last 12 Premier League matches – a record that stretches back to last April.
The goal scoring talents of Chelsea and Man City have culminated in 33 goals in just 12 Premier League games this season. These incredible attacking heights could not have been met without the goals from the two in-form front men, Alvaro Morata and Sergio Aguero.
Morata has settled quickly into life in London and joins Aguero and Romelu Lukaku at the top of the scoring charts with six goals.
The two facing each other Saturday may be battling for the Golden Boot this season and despite Aguero also assisting three to Morata’s two, Morata’s goals per minute record narrowly trumps the Argentine’s at 76 to Aguero’s 78.
This Saturday may not be as simple as a square-off between the two strikers however, but the help from their surrounding strike force.
Morata has scored 50 per cent of Chelsea’s Premier League goals this season; their second highest goals corer is full-back Marcos Alonso with just two. The dependence on Morata for goals should worry Antonio Conte, as both Willian and Pedro have notched just one goal between them.
For City, Gabriel Jesus, Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane have all scored at least three league goals this season, sharing the burden of scoring with, Aguero.
Chelsea led the league in counter-attacking goals (7) and only had an average possession of 54 per cent during last season’s title win.
Chelsea’s shot count does not bode well for the wingers either. Whilst Pedro and Willian have had 1.8 and 1.5 shots per game, the likes of De Bruyne, Sterling and Jesus are having 3.4, 3 and 2 per game respectively.
Eden Hazard’s slow integration back into the starting lineup should aid Chelsea’s goal scoring exploits, yet he has only recently returned from an ankle injury and has not started a Premier League game so far this season.
Many are still looking at City’s defensive line as a weakness despite spending over £100m on their goalkeeper and defensive options over the past two seasons.
No team has quashed opposition attacks as effectively as City’s this season, with the opposing team mustering just 6.8 shots per game; the league’s best.
It could be argued that it is City’s possession-based play (their average of 64.7 per cent possession is the highest in the league) that makes it difficult for opposing teams to create attacks without constant access to the ball rather than their defensive strengths.
If this is the case, then Chelsea’s style of play could be the perfect foil against Guardiola’s free-flowing football.
Chelsea has averaged just 52.5 per cent possession in the Premier League this season, an incredibly low amount for a side currently sitting in third. Last season Chelsea led the league in counter-attacking goals (7) and only had an average possession of 54 per cent during the title-winning season; their fast-paced style may in fact suit playing the possession-based Manchester City.
Antonio Conte’s men have proven that they do not need a wealth of possession in order to carve out goal scoring opportunities and could prove to be a real challenge for City’s defence.
Elsewhere, Manchester United will hope to capitalise on the pair potentially dropping points against one another when they welcome Crystal Palace to Old Trafford, while Newcastle United host Liverpool.
Tottenham Hotspur travel to Huddersfield Town, while Arsenal takes on Brighton & Hove Albion and Everton play Burnley.
Leicester City and Bournemouth will each fight for their second win of the season when they face off at the latter’s Vitality Stadium, as will West Ham United and Swansea City in their contest.
Chelsea: Courtois, Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Alonso, Kante, Bakayoko, Moses, Hazard, Morata, Willian.
Man City: Ederson, Bravo, Walker, Danilo, Stones, Otamendi, Mangala, Mendy, Toure, Delph, Gundogan, Fernandinho, De Bruyne, D Silva, B Silva, Sane, Sterling, Jesus, Aguero.
Team P W D L
Man City 142 47 8 57
Chelsea 142 57 8 47