Two of the most likely contenders for this season’s Premier League title meet when reigning champions Chelsea host in-form Manchester City at Stamford Bridge on Saturday (17:30 BST, live on BT Sport).
It is the two Manchester sides who have received the majority of plaudits and attention so far this season, but Chelsea have quietly and efficiently ground out results from a series of potentially awkward fixtures to position themselves within striking distance at the top.
The Blues are just three points behind those two sides in the early running after recovering from an opening day defeat at home to Burnley to take 13 points from their subsequent five fixtures, including wins away at Tottenham Hotspur and Leicester City. Last weekend, they thrashed Stoke 4-0 thanks to a hat-trick from summer signing Alvaro Morata.
Chelsea powered to last season’s title on the back of a 13-match winning streak through October, November and December. They took full advantage of their lack of European football to build up an advantage during the first half of the campaign that they never looked in serious danger of relinquishing thereafter. But they won’t enjoy that same edge this season.
[quote style=”boxed” float=”right”]Chelsea won both last season’s matches against Man City & five of six against top-seven sides at home[/quote]
The Blues come into Saturday’s match on the back of hard-fought win away to Atletico Madrid in the Champions League on Wednesday night. They put together an assured performance in which they limited their hosts to few chances while fashioning a solid number themselves. The match seemed to be heading to a draw before substitute Michy Batshuayi turned in Marcos Alonso’s cross with the last kick of the game to hand them an impressive victory.
The interplay between Morata and Eden Hazard up front created consistent danger and it was those two players who combined for Morata to equalise on the hour mark after David Luiz had conceded a silly penalty to allow Atletico to take a first-half lead. N’Golo Kante and Tiemoue Bakayoko dominated midfield, while the defence successfully imposed themselves. It was a good test to pass prior to the visit of an in-form opponent this weekend.
Man City made a relatively slow start to the season but have been in sparkling shape throughout September. Across five wins in five matches in league and European action, they have scored 22 goals without once conceding. Their last three league fixtures have resulted in 5-0 wins over Liverpool and Crystal Palace and a 6-0 demolition of Watford.
Shakhtar Donetsk did a slightly better job of containing them on Tuesday, at least holding out until half-time. But they were unable to create much of note themselves and had little reason to complain when their hosts eventually ran out 2-0 winners thanks to goals from Kevin de Bruyne and Raheem Sterling. Man City created more than enough to justify their victory.
Pep Guardiola admitted afterwards that he had been highly encouraged by the way his team came out stronger in the second half against difficult opponents. The trip to Stamford Bridge does, however, feel like a different kind of challenge, as City are yet to really come up against a side that combines defensive solidity with genuine high-quality options in the final third.
It was in matches against other top-seven sides that City struggled to produce last season. Across those 12 fixtures, they secured just two wins, alongside five draws and five defeats. They particularly struggled away from the Etihad, with just one win, one draw and four defeats. In a competitive league, they need to improve that record this time around if they are to support their current billing as favourites to lift the Premier League trophy next May.
Our Preview’s Chelsea v Man City Betting Tips
Chelsea won both of last season’s two matches between these sides and five of their six encounters against fellow top-seven sides on home soil. They have already overcome last season’s runners up Tottenham in the early part of the new campaign and seem to have an approach that regularly bears fruit against top teams, especially those who look to take the initiative.
Summer reinforcements have certainly improved Man City and the bookies’ odds (below) actually have them as the marginal favourites for Saturday’s match. But Chelsea are not a side who easily cede victory and still have a solid chance of getting a result this weekend. Following on from those thoughts, this match preview’s betting tips are:
- Back Chelsea to win on the “draw no bet” market @ 21/20 with William Hill (the bet pays out if they win; your stake is returned if the match ends in a draw)
- Back 2-3 goals on the exact total goals market @ best odds of 6/5 with SunBets.
Compare Bookies’ Chelsea v Man City Match Odds