The movable object known as Chelsea Football Club welcome the unstoppable force of Manchester City this Saturday to Stamford Bridge. Chelsea, who have dropped more points in the last three games (6) than City have all season (4) used to make a habit out of rising to such occasions for famous victories (home or away), but Sarri’s Chelsea favor idealism over pragmatism, and will look to fight fire with fire. Or fire with a flickering flame that’s long been done being stoked into a blazing inferno.
It was right around this time two years ago that Conte’s inferno truly set the marker for the 2016-17 season as Chelsea won an eighth game in a row on the way to thirteen, and the unlikely Premier League title. Last year’s pair of 1-0 defeats were just as indicative of where Conte’s squad stood in his second season, while the 2-0 beatdown in the Community Shield probably undersold just how far ahead City are now of Chelsea.
Sarri certainly has his work cut our for him to close that gap, assuming of course he gets enough support and backing to do so.
But tomorrow is just one game and in one game, anything can happen. Why not us?
Date / Time: Saturday, December 8, 2018, 17:30 GMT; 12:30pm EST; 11pm IST
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6
Referee: Michael Oliver — England’s top referee gets the call for this top game, though interestingly he’s never before refereed a matchup between these two teams. His only other Chelsea game so far this season was our 3-1 win over Crystal Palace in early November.
Forecast: The mild weather continues and there might even be a bit of sunshine during the day!
On TV: BT Sport 1 (UK); NBC (USA); Star Sports HD1 (India); elsewhere
Streaming online: BT Sport Live (UK); NBC Sports Live (USA); Hotstar (India); Fubo TV (affiliate link — USA only)
Chelsea team news: The squad is just about fully healthy, although Ross Barkley and Victor Moses had been carrying minor knocks. Moses has been a non-factor throughout the season, but Barkley has been useful — though Ruben Loftus-Cheek has grabbed these new opportunities with both hands and has done really well in his stead.
With two losses from three and just four points picked up from twelve, Chelsea have officially arrived to the end of the Sarri honeymoon period. Where we go from here, no one knows. Many before him ended up in the discard pile once winter arrived and he will have to find some solutions to avoid a similar fate in the near future.
Manchester City team news: That City have been this dominant without arguably their best player, Kevin De Bruyne, sideline practically the whole season is just further testament to giving Guardiola time and support to truly embed his winning system in the team. City have spent a lot but in general, they have spent well and on positions that were weaknesses.
Joining De Bruyne on the touchline will Five-second Angry Sergio Aguero, as well as oft-injured left back Benjamin Mendy. Gabriel Jesus (he of fewer goals than Morata) should get the start while Fabian “Still Can’t Believe He’s a City Player” Delph should deputise at left back. If Chelsea are looking for a weakness, that’s probably where we should start.
City have been ridiculously dominant this season and it’s tough to see Chelsea putting a stop to that. Most goals scored by a wide margin, second-fewest goals conceded, and all the underlying stats to match, City will be expected to collect all three points and in some fashion as well.
View from the enemy: Bitter and Blue
Previously: We still owe Kevin De Bruyne a thank you card for his miss.