Any number of elements could determine the outcome of this Saturday’s blockbuster match between Manchester City and Chelsea. Both teams seek to embody a dazzling, high-flying style that would validate their respective histories while also pushing the British and European game to a new level.
Guardiola insists that City lack experience among Europe’s elite but the team has a long history in English competition and a number of players currently employed in Manchester have proven themselves quite heartily in recent years.
City’s official website recently posted a few statistics to preview the big game:
- City have won 52, drawn 39 and lost 62 of their matches with Chelsea
- Sergio Aguero and Diego Costa are joint top scorers of the Premier League with 10, but Costa has played two games more
- Chelsea have won four, drawn one and lost one of six away games this season
- City have won three and drawn three from their three league games at the Etihad Stadium
These two teams initially met in 1908 playing in League Division One. In 1926, they saw each other in Division Two but fell back to Div. One for a while before finally clashing in the Premier League in 1992. In addition to an FA cup history that reaches back to 1915, they met in the EUFA European Cup Winners Cup in April 1971.
Meetings in the last ten years have resulted in a 10-3-11 record for the Sky Blues.
City ran riot in August 2015. That game was the beginning of the end for Jose Mourinho while Manuel Pellegrini enjoyed goals from Fernandinho, Aguero, and Kompany. Even though Kompany’s absence hangs like a sour cloud, Fernandinho could stand to cap off his recent form with another laser shot and every City supporter would love to see another bold, controlling display from Aguero.
The FA Cup in April of 2016 was a different story. Pellegrini slotted a number of youngsters against Chelsea’s Costa, Willian, and Hazard, who were seeking to regain their stride after early season woes ruined their positioning in the EPL.
Saturday’s game begins with only a point separating City and Chelsea at the top of the league (with Liverpool sandwiched between thanks to a +1 goal diff. over City).
It will be crucial for Pep’s side to avoid frustration and fatigue against an agile and persistent West London side. Both teams focus heavily on mid-field possession and Chelsea’s defense has been spectacular of late. Fernandinho and Toure will have to play from box to box effectively. Sterling has done well in exposing wing-backs and will most likely look to do so against the often-attacking Victor Moses.
If City can get on the front foot, press against Conte’s side, and avoid defensive mistakes, the Sky Blues could halt Chelsea’s recent streak.