It’s only the 7th game of a 38-game season, but the result could turn out to be equally as significant-looking as Chelsea’s impressive win over Atlético Madrid on Wednesday. Of course, just as that game doesn’t guarantee Champions League glory — or, in fact, qualification from the group, even — whoever walks off the hallowed Stamford Bridge turf with the points on Saturday will not be guaranteed anything in the Premier League either.
Neither team should be lacking for motivation or winning intent.
For neutrals, this might be fun. For us, it’ll likely be very scary.
Clear eyes, full hearts, pay great attention.
Date / Time: Saturday, September 30, 17:30 BST; 12:30pm EDT; 10pm IST
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6
Referee: Martin Atkinson — Chelsea won 3 of 5 with Atkinson in charge last season, including the 4-2 over Spurs in the FA Cup semifinals and the 4-0 over United. Could do with another big win like that!
Forecast: Light showers
On TV: BT Sport 1 (UK); NBCSN, Universo (USA); Star Sports HD1 (India); elsewhere
Streaming online: BT Sport Live (UK); NBC Sports Live Extra, Telemundo Deportes En Vivo (USA); Hotstar (India)
Chelsea team news: A tired but confident Chelsea head into this game with just one confirmed injury, that of Danny Drinkwater, who’s yet to make his debut for the club since signing on transfer deadline day. Drinkwater is expected to be back in a couple weeks, after the international break. Also missing will be David Luiz, who will be serving the final game of his three-match domestic suspension. He’ll thus have plenty of time to think on the resurfacing erratic randomness in his play as of late.
Deputising for David Luiz will be young Andreas Christensen, who’s made an appearance in all but two Chelsea games this season (and one of the ones he missed was the Community Shield and since we lost on penalties, we don’t really care about that). Loan army masterplan at work!
Whether Conte makes any changes beyond that one enforced one remains to be seen. The 3-5-2 worked like a charm on Wednesday, but City will undoubtedly approach this game much differently than Atlético, so perhaps Chelsea should switch things up a bit as well — though just in terms of strategies, not in terms of commitment or intensity.
The Blues are now unbeaten in eight straight, winning seven.
Manchester City team news: A less tired and equally as confident Manchester City roll into town having won seven on the bounce in all competitions, scoring no less than 26 goals in the process and conceding just 2. And while they will be without the unfortunate Sergio Agüero as well as Benjamin Mendy, they have more than enough firepower (Gabriel Jesus, Sané, Silva, Sterling, De Bruyne, etc.) to cause a few sleepless nights to any head coach or defense.
City are top of the table, having dropped just two points so far this season. That’s as good as United, who trail on goal difference, and three better than Chelsea.
View from the enemy: Bitter And Blue
Previously: Chelsea won this fixtures 2-1 in April as the title drew ever closer; I got to watch this in person, including the post-match celebrations (and service announcements). Excited to be going back in a couple months.