It’s a new year but the same old Premier League, except not at all familiar actually. For whatever reason — most likely pandemic-related — we’re seeing extreme parity in the usually top-heavy division, and after yesterday’s results, just seven (7!) points separate first (Liverpool) from tenth (West Ham). Seven!
Six of those teams in the top ten are level on 26 points, including both Chelsea and Manchester City, though the latter have done so from just 14 matches played, the least in the league thanks to an extra one-week delay at the start of the season and the postponement of their last game due to a COVID-19 outbreak in the squad.
City, backed by a bit of extra testing, have managed to stop the spread, so this game is set to go ahead.
Date / Time: Sunday, January 3, 2021, 16.30 GMT, 11:30am EST; 10pm IST
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6
Referee: Anthony Taylor (on pitch); Mike Dean (VAR)
Forecast: Cold, breezy, wet
On TV: Sky Sports Premier League (UK); NBCSN, Telemundo (USA); Star Sports Select HD1 (India); SuperSport Premier League, Canal+ Sport 3 (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: Sky Go (UK); NBC Sports Live, Telemundo Deportes En Vivo (USA); Hotstar (India); DStv Now (NGA)
Chelsea team news: After a 17-match unbeaten run started some premature title-challenge talks, Chelsea have crashed back down to earth and then some with just one win from six in all competitions. We’ve managed to earn just 4 points from our last 5 league games, and earning any additional points in this fixture isn’t necessarily the likely outcome either.
We might get lucky and get Hakim Ziyech back for this one — his absence has coincided precisely with our downturn in fortunes — but Reece James remains out with a hamstring injury.
Manchester City team news: In stark contrast to the Blues, City are unbeaten in ten, winning seven in all competitions since getting Mourinho’d by Spurs 2-0 just before Thanksgiving. In perhaps a surprising statistic, City have conceded just two goals in those ten games, and have somewhat quietly become very good once again.
Chelsea might draw hope of scoring from the absence of first-choice goalkeeper Ederson, who’s reportedly one of the five players in COVID-19 isolation. The other two who have been named are Kyle Walker and Gabriel Jesus. City will also be without injured defender Eric Garcia, but both Ilkay Gundogan and Sergio Agüero have recently returned to the fold and should be available. Young Ferrán Torres has been deputizing quite ably during the latter’s absence (7 goals in 18 appearances) but Agüero has 15 goals in 20 career games against Chelsea. He had been injured the last three times City played at the Bridge, incidentally, with Chelsea winning the last two of those visits.
View from the enemy: Bitter And Blue
Previously: Chelsea have a pretty good record against Pep Guardiola at the Bridge, including last season’s 2-1 win, which sealed Liverpool’s title.