This match is being seen largely as a “dress rehearsal” for the main even in a few weeks, namely the Champions League final, but that doesn’t mean it’s without any significance. In fact, it is potentially of great significance, to both teams.
For City, it’s a chance to officially wrap up the title that’s been theirs practically since the start of the calendar year. For Chelsea, the three points would not only see us at least maintain a bit of cushion to fifth-place West Ham and below, but would actually propel us to third thanks to Newcastle United beating Leicester City on Friday. (We’re going to have send Joe Willock a fruit basket in appreciation for all his hard work over the past month.)
joe willock's making more of an impact on the top four race than any other arsenal player in years— Graham MacAree (@MacAree) May 7, 2021
And of course it’s another litmus test against the best team not only in England but all of Europe. We’ve been trying to close that proverbial gap since 2017.
Date / Time: Saturday, May 8, 2021, 17.30 BST; 12:30pm EDT; 10pm IST
Venue: Etihad Stadium, Manchester, England
Referee: Anthony Taylor (on pitch); Jonathan Moss (VAR)
Forecast: Heavy rain, but at least no snow or ice
On TV: Sky Sports Main Event (UK); NBC, Universo (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)
Manchester City team news: Center back John Stones will be serving the third match of his three-match suspension following his sending off against Aston Villa a few weeks ago, but otherwise City are fully healthy, fit, and available.
Of course, like Chelsea, they are coming into this match off the back of a massive midweek 2-0 win, though with an extra day’s rest. Without any FA Cup commitments left and faced with a perfunctory run-in, this is their last game of any import before the aforementioned Champions League final.
City have won five in a row since losing to Chelsea in the FA Cup semifinals, conceding just two goals along the way. Incidentally, as much as we talk about Chelsea’s at-times shocking profligacy in front of goal, City have not scored more than two goals in any of their last twelve games, since a 3-0 win over Fulham in mid-March.
View from the enemy: Bitter and Blue
Chelsea team news: Chelsea are also without just one player, though not through suspension, as Mateo Kovačić continues to prove that there is no such thing as a small hamstring injury. He’s once again close to returning, perhaps as soon as midweek when we take on Arsenal, though it might be prudent to play it safe with him for a bit longer. N’Golo Kanté and Jorginho have done extremely well in his absence, even if fatigue starts to become a huge concern.
With just two days’ rest, Tuchel has hinted at potentially rotating his squad and looking to simply play fresh legs above any other consideration. It’s certainly a tricky balance to find for the head coach, especially for a game in which we’re not favored and with massive and multiple must-wins coming up.
Previously: Chelsea were also not favored in the FA Cup semifinal, but that certainly didn’t matter as we emerged victorious thanks to Hakim Ziyech’s goal to book our place in the Wembley final next weekend.