Always one of the best fixtures of the year, Chelsea vs. Manchester City this Saturday surely will not disappoint. And as the excitement to kick-off builds, apprehension surrounds the free-flowing side at the top of the table.
Football always provides great drama on the pitch, but the Premier League match of the weekend is riddled with drama off of the pitch. For City, their starting full-back Benjamin Mendy and legendary forward Sergio Agüero will be out of the trip to Stamford Bridge.
Mendy has torn his ACL which is a very unfortunate way to end his season. This setback shouldn’t be career ending for the French international, but you must feel badly for him before a World Cup and after starting his City career on such a positive.
Agüero took an alternative route for his absence. This Thursday evening, on his day off, Sergio was at a concert of Colombian artist Maluma in Amsterdam where he was involved in a car accident shortly after the show ended.
We all wish Sergio a speedy recovery, but of course we must ask: “WHY IN THE WORLD WERE YOU THERE?????????????????”. At present I’m on Spotify hoping that 5 years of language lessons at university will help me understand the greatness of Maluma in concert. I hope it doesn’t disappoint.
Around the water cooler (beer tap) on Friday afternoon in London, there were harsh comments from supporters of all clubs. The anger of these avid football fans reminded me that Agüero is simply a man, and does also deserve to do what he will with his days off. What are the benefits of being a multi-millionaire athlete if you can’t enjoy the fruits of your labor?
From a Chelsea perspective, why not feel confident about the opportunity to take three points at home now that City are weaker in two key positions? During the midweek Champions League match vs. Atlético Madrid, Eden Hazard and Álvaro Morata linked up quite well. That is a great sign for Chelsea, and timing couldn’t be worse for a City defense who will be without Mendy and captain Vincent Kompany.
Putting aside City’s absentees, John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi will need to be at their very best to hold Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. The London Blues have too much skill to be kept goalless at their ground, but should they only get one goal it may not be enough.
Pep Guardiola’s embarrassment of riches up front may be slightly tarnished, but let’s not forget there are three great young forwards in form ready to show they deserve a starting position. Less choice for Guardiola isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and Agüero’s injury makes it easier for him to send Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sané and Gabriel Jesus on the pitch and let them run riot.
City will be tested, but that is what these big matches are for anyway. They help validate if they are a sustainable squad that can go the distance in the Premier League and beyond. It’s worth noting the importance of this match in particular. There is some time before they line up against a top Premier League team again (November 5th vs. Arsenal and December 9th vs. Manchester United - if you consider Arsenal top), so Chelsea are the only real tough test until the end of the year. If City can’t get the win, there’ll be major doubts over them until the next big games.
I’ll be at the match this weekend, trying to keep my composure and failing miserably in the hospitality section. Many thanks to my mate who’s providing access, even if it’s with Chelsea supporters.
It must be said though City supporters, our team is strong!!! If anyone can go to the Bridge and get three points it’s us!
Keep the faith. We need Jesus now more than ever.