8 February 2019

Man City v. Chelsea Preview  (Sky Sports)

Manchester City v. ChelseaManchester City face a tough test in the title race as Chelsea visit the Etihad on Sunday, live on Sky Sports.

The champions moved back top of the Premier League table with a 2-0 win at Everton on Wednesday, although they have played a game more than their title rivals.

With Liverpool hosting Bournemouth on Saturday and Tottenham facing Leicester in the earlier Renault Super Sunday game, also live on Sky Sports Premier League from 12.30pm, Pep Guardiola's side will be keen to take advantage of any slip-ups to cement their position.

But with fourth-placed Chelsea having already beaten City once this season, there is no walkover assured for his side, live on Sky Sports Premier League from 3.30pm on Sunday.

Guardiola said: "You see the midfield players, the strikers, the best strikers in the world are there.

"The midfield players are the best in the world. A good keeper. Experienced defenders. Good organisation defensive, offensive. They know exactly what they want to do.

"I have a lot of respect. The game on Sunday is a final for us. I want to feel that it's an absolute final for us and we need to play in that way."

Maurizio Sarri's Chelsea were the first team to beat Manchester City domestically this season courtesy of a 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge in December.

But Sarri was still keen to talk up Sunday's opponents ahead of the return leg, saying: "At the moment Manchester City are the best team in Europe.

"I think we were lucky (in December), because we scored in a very difficult moment of the match. In that match we defended really very well because they had only three goal opportunities, no more.

"It's not easy against Man City to give them only three, four opportunities. At home, I think they've scored 43 goals in 13 matches. More than three on average. We need to defend really very well."

Team news

Manchester City are still without defenders Benjamin Mendy and Vincent Kompany for the visit of Chelsea.

Left-back Mendy, who has missed the last four games, is being managed carefully as he returns from knee surgery and captain Kompany is still troubled by a muscular problem.

Goalkeeper Claudio Bravo (Achilles) is still out long term but City have no fresh injury concerns.

Antonio Rudiger could return to Chelsea's starting line-up at Manchester City.

Defender Rudiger was not risked in last week's 5-0 win over Huddersfield due to a knock, so Andreas Christensen deputised. The Denmark defender is likely to make way.

Callum Hudson-Odoi has been ill, so may not even be among the substitutes.

Opta stats

Man City have lost three of their last five Premier League matches against Chelsea (W2), scoring just four goals and never more than once in this run.

Chelsea have won on just two of their last nine visits to the Etihad in the Premier League (D1 L6), winning 1-0 in February 2014 and 3-1 in December 2016.

Man City boss Pep Guardiola has lost more league games against Chelsea than he has versus any other team in his managerial career (3).

Man City striker Sergio Aguero has scored five goals in his last five Premier League appearances versus Chelsea, including netting a hat-trick in April 2016.

Chelsea's Eden Hazard has had a hand in five goals in his last five games against Man City in the Premier League (3 goals, 2 assists), with the Belgian assisting both of the Blues' goals in the reverse fixture this term.

Sergio Aguero has scored 11 goals in 11 home Premier League games for Manchester City this season, including two hat-tricks. He's the highest scoring home player in the competition so far this season.

50% of N'Golo Kante's Premier League assists for Chelsea this season have been for Gonzalo Higuain (2/4), despite the pair playing just 148 minutes together.

Merson's predictions

I think City will win this as I just do not see how Chelsea defensively can keep them quiet on their ground and the way they pass and move it. Marcos Alonso plays as a No 10 and will be bombing forward, while David Luiz will either be a 9/10, or a 3/10! I would be shocked if Chelsea got anything from this game.

However, despite being top of the league, City are still vulnerable, they are not like they were last season. You could see that against Arsenal last weekend as when they equalised, they were comfortable and looked the better team, but they just did not have enough.

Chelsea have got more than Arsenal and it will be a hard game for City, but I just think that defensively, Chelsea can't be relied upon. They let in four at Bournemouth recently and if they fall behind, I just do not see them coming back, they do not have that in them.

MERSE PREDICTS: 3-1 (11/1 with Sky Bet)

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