Chelsea take on Manchester City twice in the next four days, so we took the opportunity exchange four questions with ‘Cityzen Duck’ of Bitter And Blue, and look ahead especially to Thursday night’s Premier League showdown, which might play a crucial role in the title fight. Be sure to check out reverse version of this Q&A, where yours truly had some positive things to say about Graham Potter (NOT!).
WAGNH: Since we last played, Pep Guardiola has signed an extension to keep him at the club until 2025. Considering that we handed Graham Potter a five-year deal, what’s the reasoning behind such a relatively shorter-term contract for arguably the greatest manager in the business who’s already proven his credentials many times over?
BAB: My assumption is that came from Pep’s side. I’m certain City Football Group would sign him for as long as he wanted, but at this stage in Pep’s career he no longer needs stability. He would clearly have his pick of any job he wanted if and when he chooses to move. Pep is at a point where he is so secure financially, and so well respected professionally that flexibility has become a more valuable commodity for him.
WAGNH: What happened last weekend against Everton (1-1) that caused the two dropped points? Was it just “one of those days” or is there some weakness to this team that could be exploited?
BAB: I do think it was just one of those days. It was frustrating to watch in the moment. None of the City players had particularly awful performances, there just didn’t seem to be that spark that was needed. Rodri was just okay, KDB was the same. After the Haaland goal, you thought City might take off, but it didn’t happen. Then Demarai Gray scored on an inch-perfect strike. That’s the Prem.
WAGNH: Arsenal seem to be the real deal as we approach the halfway point of the season. But we’ve all seen City engineer ridiculous runs to amass ridiculous points-totals, so presumably there is plenty of confidence still that the Gunners can be overhauled in the second half of the season. Or is there cause for concern? (Or is perhaps the focus elsewhere, like, say, on the Champions League?)
BAB: Well, the draw against Newcastle helps, but only if City can take all three points at Stamford Bridge. That would put City 5 points back with both matches against Arsenal left to play. The margin for error seems razor-thin right now, and that is down to how Mikel Arteta has Arsenal playing.
I would say that Champions League is top priority for Pep and for the club, but I just don’t think that Pep has it in him to concede any trophy. I expect Manchester City to pursue their 9th top-flight title with great vigor.
WAGNH: I’m expecting City to be angry and extra motivated after the last game. How badly will they whip our hide on Thursday? (And will they follow it up on Sunday in the FA Cup, too?)
BAB: I too expect a highly motivated Man City at Stamford Bridge. Not just because they won’t have liked the outcome against Everton, but also because of the opportunity to close the gap at the top of the table. My hope is that Phil Foden returns to the starting lineup, and if he does I think it’ll be 1-3 to City.
As for the FA Cup tie, anything can happen, but I’ll back City at the Etihad.
Thanks again to Duckman-4-Real for the chat; be sure to visit them for a quack or two over at Bitter And Blue.