Chelsea return to play at Stamford Bridge for the first time since early March, though it won’t quite feel like Stamford Bridge just like most places don’t feel like they normally do these days. Without fans, the concept of a “home field” or “home field advantage” falls by the wayside, but that was one of the accepted compromises on the way towards achieving Project Restart, so this is what we must love, for now.
Whether that will help or hinder remains to be seen. Without the immediate belief of 40,000+ motivations can be harder to find. On the other hand, the pressure is far less as well, on both the home side to perform and on the visitors to fail. The emotion of the occasion can be a great equalizer in sports.
Can Chelsea hang with Manchester City in a pure battle of skill, tactics, self-confidence, and fitness? We almost did so in late November, but almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.
Date / Time: Thursday, June 25, 2020, 20.15 BST; 3:15pm EDT; 12:45am IST (next day)
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6
Referees: Stuart Attwell (on pitch); Craig Pawson (VAR)
Forecast: Scorching summer’s day followed by balmy summer’s night
On TV: BT Sport 1 (UK); NBCSN, Universo (USA); Star Sports Select HD1 (India); SuperSport 3 (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: BT Sport Live (UK); fuboTV, NBC Sports Live, Universo Now (USA); Hotstar (India); DStv Now (NGA)
Chelsea team news: The first week of the Premier League’s restart has seen plenty of injuries already, but so far, Chelsea have been one of the lucky ones. That said, Fikayo Tomori and Callum Hudson-Odoi do remain out with minor knocks picked up in training earlier. Jorginho finally returns from the longest two-match suspension in Premier League history.
With the chasing pack all having played an extra game, as well as Leicester City four points in front of us, Chelsea can rest assured of staying in fourth place with at least a two-point cushion ahead of Manchester United and Wolves regardless of what happens in this game. Winning would certainly be a bonus, though some might say that Sunday’s FA Cup quarterfinal is the more important match of the immediate future — and same goes for Manchester City.
Incidentally, should Chelsea win (or draw, even), Liverpool will be officially confirmed as Champions of England for the first time in 30 years. While their title has been inevitable for some time, Chelsea do have history of winning titles not just for ourselves but for other teams as well, right, Leicester City?
Manchester City: If City want to remain mathematically eligible to defend their Premier League title, they will have to do so without Sergio Agüero, who picked up a knee injury on Monday and could very well be done for the season. Having rested Kevin de Bruyne and Raheem Sterling in the same match, City will be just as dangerous as ever.
City have been in great form in the Restart, winning two games by a combined 8-0 scoreline. With a looming European ban, they have nothing but pride to play for, which can certainly mess with you.
View from the enemy: Bitter and Blue
Previously: N’Golo Kanté scored as Chelsea played very well to take the lead, but City got lucky to get back into it before their overall quality shone through in the 2-1 win.