The Premier League’s top two meet when Chelsea host Man City at Stamford Bridge on Saturday (17:30 GMT, live on Sky Sports).
Chelsea come into the match on the back of reaching the final of the Capital One Cup with a 1-0 second-leg and 2-1 aggregate victory over Liverpool on Tuesday. They top the Premier League table, with 52 points from 16 wins, four draws and two defeats.
Jose Mourinho’s side emerged victorious from a highly fractious 120 minutes of football on Tuesday. Diego Costa (pictured) was involved in various shenanigans, while their opponents were fortunate to end the match with 11 men. An extra-time header from Branislav Ivanovic saw Chelsea progress and make partial amends for their embarrassing FA Cup exit to Bradford.
Aside from a crazy 5-3 defeat away to Tottenham Hotspur on New Year’s Day, Mourinho’s side have generally settled into their expected defensive groove over the last couple of months or so. The Blues have kept clean sheets in eight of their last 11 league fixtures and have the second best defensive record in the division – behind Southampton.
Chelsea’s third place finish last season was built around their strong defence. They were comfortably outscored by both Liverpool and City but conceded 10 less goals than any other side. Scoring has, however, proved much less problematic for them this season, with the arrivals of Costa and Cesc Fabregas helping them to a league-high 51 goals to date.
Mourinho is highly likely to be without Costa for Saturday’s game after the striker was charged with violent conduct by the FA for a stamp on Emre Can during the Liverpool match. He also has injury doubts over Fabregas (hamstring), Ivanovic (foot), Andre Schurrle (back), Filipe Luis (calf) and Jon Obi Mikel (head), although all five should be fit enough to take part.
Man City travel to London having dropped points in three of their last four league fixtures and on the back of a surprise elimination from the FA Cup at the hands of Middlesborough. They are second in the Premier League table, with 47 points from 14 wins, five draws and three defeats.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side could have few complaints after falling to a 2-0 defeat at home to Championship side Middlesborough on Saturday. They had plenty of the ball but were unable to create a regular stream of quality chances against a stubborn away defence, well-organised by their coach Aitor Karanka – a former assistant to Mourinho at Real Madrid.
The match followed a very similar pattern to the 2-0 home defeat to Arsenal that preceded it and will certainly have provided cause for concern for Pellegrini. His side embarked on an impressive seven-match winning streak from late November to late December but have stumbled in recent weeks, and now find themselves five points back in the title race.
Man City are broadly conceding the same number of goals per match as they did last season but their goal output has decreased at a rate equivalent to roughly three less goals for every five matches they play. While Sergio Aguero continues to be a prolific scorer, City have lacked the variety provided by Alvaro Negredo (sold) and Edin Dzeko (off-form) last season.
Pellegrini will definitely be without the injured Samir Nasri (calf) for Saturday’s match, while Eliaquim Mangala (groin) is doubtful. Yaya Toure and new signing Wilfried Bony are both still on Africa Cup of Nations duty with Ivory Coast and are therefore unavailable.
Chelsea vs Man City Betting Tips Verdict
These two sides drew 1-1 when they met at the Etihad earlier this season, with Frank Lampard scoring Man City’s late equaliser against his former club. Chelsea won both of last season’s league fixtures, but City were victorious when they met in the FA Cup. The last six league meetings at Stamford Bridge have yielded four wins for Chelsea and just one for City.
With a five-point lead to play with, Mourinho is likely to be relatively content to sit back and play on the break on Saturday, despite his side enjoying home advantage. With Costa highly unlikely to be available, Mourinho will lack the battering ram figure his side need to truly impose themselves and set the tempo of play.
While City would love to take all three points from their trip to London, they have not been in particularly good form in recent weeks and could be content to simply maintain the current gap ahead of the final stretch of the campaign. After all, they have not kept a clean sheet in seven matches in all competitions and are missing the creativity of both Nasri and Toure.
- Back the draw @ best odds of 13/5 with Coral, SkyBet or Betfred.
- The last three matches between these sides in all competitions and four of the last five in the league have seen two or fewer goals and we also expect this match to be a relatively low-scoring affair. Back under 2.5 goals @ best betting odds of 39/40 with BetVictor or William Hill.
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