Football’s back from the last international break of the calendar year, and that means it’s no sleep ‘til
Brooklyn the spring, as we plow through the winter months and the festive fixtures. It’s a time of games every three days on average for three months. It’s a time that often makes or breaks a season.
For Chelsea, it starts with two very tough assignments, away at Manchester City and away at Valencia. The latter could very well determine our Champions League group stage fate. The former could very well propel us to the next level. The season has started well enough, but a win (or even a non-loss) here could signal some truly ambitious intentions — maybe not for this season since Liverpool are already well out of sight, but for the very near future.
Lampard has tried to play down the significance of this game, but when we factor in that the last two visits to the Etihad have ended in embarrassment — various degrees of embarrassment, to be sure, but Conte-Chelsea’s 1-0 capitulation and Sarri-Chelsea’s 6-0 hiding are nothing to be proud of — everyone will be looking to this game as a barometer for this youthful Chelsea side.
Date / Time: Saturday, November 23, 2019, 17:30 GMT; 12:30pm EST; 11pm IST
Venue: Etihad Stadium, Manchester, England
Referee: Martin Atkinson — all referees are bad, at best, but Atkinson tends to be near the top of most lists when it comes to high-profile nincompoops with whistles — even when he’s not on the pitch, like in the Firmino “armpit offside” decision as VAR. We last saw him in the 3-2 win over Norwich City on Matchday 3 earlier this season.
Forecast: Cold November rain. It will be hard to hold a candle.
On TV: Sky Sports Main Event (UK); NBC, Telemundo (USA); Start Sports Select HD1 (India); Canal+ Sport 2, SuperSport 3 (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: Sky GO (UK); NBC Sports Live, Telemundo Deportes En Vivo (USA); HotStar (India); DStv Now (NGA)
Manchester City team news: The big news for City is that Ederson is expected to be back in goal, putting Calamity Claudio Bravo back on the bench. They will be without Bernardo Silva however, who has been suspended one match for his ill-advised racist tweet earlier this season. Former Premier League Player of the Year Riyad Mahrez, who seems to have settled after a somewhat indifferent first season, will be a more than capable deputy of course. Long-term injury absentees include Aymeric Laporte, Leroy Sané, and Oleksandr Zinchenko.
City need this win to keep any hope alive of catching Liverpool at some point later this season. If City drop points, they will likely be at least 11 points behind the Reds, who play Crystal Palace away in one of the 3pm kickoffs prior to this match.
View from the enemy: Bitter and Blue
Chelsea team news: Chelsea are the Premier League’s in-form team, and come in on the back of seven straight victories over the past couple months, dating all the way back to the home loss to Liverpool in late September. But the schedule has also been kind to the Blues during that time, and that certainly won’t be the case now.
We almost survived the international break without any new injuries, but it looks like Callum Hudson-Odoi has picked up a hamstring problem and will miss at least one game. Ross Barkley, Antonio Rüdiger, Ruben Loftus-Cheek remain out as well. Fortunately, the red hot Christian Pulisic and the one and only N’Golo Kanté are both fit and ready, while the team’s beating heart, Jorginho is back from suspension.
This game won’t determine Chelsea’s top-four fate, which looks to be on solid footing already, with a nine-point lead on fifth place
Arsenal Sheffield United, but a win would sure feel nice.
Previously: We have to go back a few years for a happy memory at the Etihad, but the 3-1 win that basically confirmed Conte-Chelsea’s title ambitions in 2016 was one of the happiest ever.