Chelsea and Manchester City meet for the fifth (5th!) time in the 2021 calendar year, and Thomas Tuchel’s Blues will be looking to record a fourth successive victory in those meetings (and stay unbeaten on the season). Pep Guardiola has never lost four straight against any team ever. (Tuchel’s personal record is five unbeaten, and counting, against Guardiola meanwhile.)
That won’t make our task any easier of course. If anything, it’ll make it harder, as both coaches look to out-tactic each other. All streaks are meant to be broken, and it’s already beyond impressive that we beat City three times in a row, in three different competitions, including the Champions League final.
But, as Tuchel pointed in his pre-match press conference, our success does give us the confidence to take City head-on once again. This is a huge game, even if it’s still very early in the seaosn. They have set the standard over the past half-decade, and have won three out of the last four titles. But all streaks are meant to be broken.
Date / Time: Saturday, September 25, 2021, 12.30 BST; 7:30am EDT; 5pm IST
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6
Referee: Michael Oliver (on pitch); Darren England (VAR)
Forecast: Warm but cloudy with a chance of meatballs
On TV: BT Sport 1 (UK); NBCSN, Universo (USA); Star Sports HD2 (India); SuperSport MaXimo 1 (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: BT Sport Live (UK); NBC Sports Live, Universo Now (USA); Hotstar (India); DStv Now (NGA)
Chelsea team news: Chelsea needed penalties to advance past Aston Villa in the League Cup on Wednesday, but with ten changes made from the previous weekend, we did so with an almost fully rotated and second-string lineup, so fitness-wise we should be okay. Christian Pulisic and Mason Mount are set to miss out however, the latter picking up a knock during his 45 minutes of action in that game.
That said, we could see the likes of N’Golo Kanté (who also played 45 minutes), Reece James (who turned in a Man of the Match performance), and Timo Werner (who might now deputize for the injured Mount) play some part against City as well. Tuchel has been experimenting with various tweaks and attacking setups for the 3-4-3 that we’ve come to know and love (again) since his appointment in January, and especially in the wake of Mount’s injury it would not be surprising to see a three-man midfield supporting two strikers (one whom will be Romelu Lukaku). It’s the logical evolution of the setup, as we saw during Antonio Conte’s time in charge as well.
Despite our unbeaten record, we’ve yet to hit top form this season, which means there’s certainly room for improvement. Our attack is still hitting blanks far too often (except for Lukaku) and our midfield has been rather porous at times. As Tuchel said, we will need to be at our absolute best, and hopefully that will be enough.
Manchester City team news: City made quick work of third division Wycombe Wanderers in their League Cup third round tie on Tuesday, though they did so with a curiously strong attacking quintet featuring Kevin De Bruyne, Phil Foden, Raheem Sterling, Riyad Mahrez, and Ferran Torres. Those five combined for five of City’s six goals, but obviously we should be expecting Chelsea to play a bit better than that!
Incidentally, City have won all four of their five home games this season by a combined 22(!) to 4 scoreline, averaging 4.4 goals per game, but have won just one of their three games away from home, scoring just once (1!) altogether and conceding twice in matching 1-0 losses to open the season (to Leicester City in the Community Shield and to Spurs in their first league game). Last weekend they drew 0-0 with Southampton at
St Mary’s the Etihad. Should they lose this one, they’d find themselves six points off the top of the leaderboard — though again, it’s still very early (as they themselves showed last season). This is also the first of three massive away games for them, as they travel to PSG on Tuesday and then Liverpool next weekend before the start of the October international break.
City have been dealing with a few injuries, and Aymeric Laporte, John Stones, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Rodri, and Ilkay Gundogan are all facing late fitness tests. Benjamin Mendy is not available to play because he’s, umm, currently in jail and facing four (4!) counts of rape! City swept that under the rug successfully for a few months, but the tiny matter of an arrest and a court hearing, and a future court date, has revealed the shocking situation to the world.
View from the enemy: Bitter and Blue
Previously: Almost exactly four months ago, Chelsea beat Manchester City in the Champions League final. Kai Havertz scored the game’s only goal. It was a good day.