Manchester City are headed to West London to face Chelsea FC. It is the first of back-to-back matches against the Blues, away in the Premier League and home for the FA Cup. City will be keen to get the three points at Stamford Bridge and move closer to EPL leaders Arsenal. Chelsea are looking to refind their form and get back in the race for European football.
I was able to get some time once again with our good friend Dávid Pásztor of sister site We Ain’t Got No History to catch us up on all that’s been happening with the West London Blues since we last saw them in November.
CITYZENDuck: It’s been nearly two months since City dispatched Chelsea from the League Cup and we’ve had a whole World Cup in the meantime. What’s changed at Stamford Bridge since we last met?
Dávid Pásztor: Unfortunately, not much has changed at Stamford Bridge, certainly not for the better. The break did lift the mood a bit, if for nothing else than not having to stomach yet another defeat to teams we were meant to be fighting against for a top-four spot, but the time off has not fixed or improved anything just yet.
Injuries remain a massive problem, with the situation not improving tangibly and both Reece James and Wesley Fofana suffering setbacks in their comeback attempts. The likes of N’Golo Kanté and Ben Chilwell remain weeks, if not months out still as well. Meanwhile, young striker Armando Broja blew out his knee in the only official friendly we had scheduled during the mid-season preseason, sooo... yeah. Not great!
Our play on the pitch has also remained uninspiring in the few games we’ve had since, and the jury remains out on Graham Potter’s ability to handle a job of this magnitude. He got yet another strong vote of confidence from the new owners over the break, but it’s hard to see how we can carry on like this without some of those actual signs of improvement that we are supposed to be seeing (in terms of play or results) — especially as the owners continue to pour money into the club while reorganizing the entire behind-the-scenes operation as well.
CD: With a quick set of home and away fixtures on tap, do you see Graham Potter approaching the Premier League fixture differently from the FA Cup match at the Etihad on the weekend?
DP: I would hope so! Then again, one of the criticisms of Potter has been a lack of consistency, either of selection or style, so we might look different from game-to-game entirely by accident, too, not just on purpose. Not that I expect us to have a fighting chance in either game, to be quite honest.
CD: Since returning from the International break, Chelsea have beaten Bournemouth at home and drawn with Forest away. Now sitting 9th in the table, can the Blues make a run to regain their top 4 standing?
DP: It’s looking increasingly unlikely. Even if we engineer a turnaround, the rest of the competition for the top-four is looking very strong at the moment, especially with Newcastle and Manchester United also racking up the points. A top-six finish might be a more realistic stretch target.
That said, right now, we’re third best in West London alone (behind Fulham and Brentford); hoping to be among the three-four best in the league is little more than that, blind hope.
CD:And finally... What is your prediction for Thursday’s Premier League match?
DP: 3-0, City.