By Toyin Akiode
A blockbuster match in the Premier League takes place between Chelsea and Manchester City tomorrow. The race for the title took a stunning turn during the weekend when Crystal Palace came to Stamford Bridge and left serious cracks in the foundations.
Antonio Conte, who was visibly disappointed at the outcome of the match against the Eagles won’t want a repeat against Guardiola’s City. In forcing issues to normal, the Italian will likely go for the broke to get his team back on track to avoid losing their long vice-like hold on the league leadership.
It has always been a tough encounter between these two. Evenly matched, only minor mistakes make the difference as to who wins or lose. In recent times however, Chelsea have been on the receiving end of the Citizens.
In the first leg at the Etihad, against all indications and statistics, Chelsea came away with three points when City should have won on the balance of play. That was one of the matches that propelled the Blues to their current status as their belief grew in quantum.
Faced with their second consecutive home match, another defeat is inconceivable for the Blues if they must win the Premiership. London rivals, Tottenham are the form team of the league and breathing down the neck of Chelsea in the quest for the title.
Beyond the league title, Champions League positions are up for grabs. Manchester City is right in the thick of it. Too many slip ups will eventually cause any aspiring team the opportunity of featuring in Europe’s elite and financially rewarding competition. No one likes to miss out!
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Chelsea vs Manchester City – Match facts
Chelsea haven’t lost back-to-back home league games vs the Citizens since December 1983.
Pep Guardiola has never previously lost both league games against a single opponent in a season as a manager in his career so far.
After winning eight Premier League games in a row against Manchester City between 2005 and 2009, the Blues have won just five of their last 15 against them in the top-flight (D3 L7).
There have been four red cards in the last five league meetings between these sides, with three being shown to Man City players.
Sergio Aguero scored a hat-trick in this exact fixture last season as City won 3-0 – one of just three opposing players to hit a treble in a Premier League game at Stamford Bridge (Kanu in October 1999 and Robin van Persie in October 2011).
Antonio Conte alluded to the significant impact Victor Moses has had in Chelsea’s impressive performance this season.
His absence was glaring as Wifred Zaha ran rings around the pair of Gary Cahill and David Luiz. He is still a major doubt for the Blues and his absence must be well managed to avoid another defeat.