Manchester City will know that nothing less than a win must do when they lock horns with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge as they look to avenge the feisty 1-3 loss at the hands of the same opponents earlier in the season. A plethora of chances which went begging in the first half came back to haunt the Sky Blues as spineless keeping from Bravo along with a surgical Chelsea landed a sucker punch on Guardiola and his band of overaged players.
With back to back draws against Liverpool and Arsenal all but ensuring that Pep will not be winning the title in his first season in England, a draw or a loss again might put their Top 4 aspirations into doubt now. While Manchester City do have a run of slightly favourable games after the Chelsea fixture, the teams in the lower half of the table will be equally difficult to dispatch as they will be having all to play for.
Pep has time and again mentioned the need to be more decisive and clinical in both the boxes and it is high time his players respond to that call. And with Chelsea given a rude shock in their merry way to the title by Crystal Palace, Conte will make sure that there is no lapse in intensity against the Sky Blues.
PREDICTED MANCHESTER CITY XI VS CHELSEA (4-1-4-1)
The eager to please Willy Caballero will be up and ready for the Chelsea attackers and it will be crucial that he plays his natural game against the Blues.
The Navas experiment, though moderately successful, is unlikely to be repeated against Hazard and one of Zabaleta or Sagna is likely to take the high-pressure spot.
John Stones has become a mainstay and after Pep Guardiola’s rather illustrative praise of him recently, it seems he is going to finish the season in more of the role that he was brought in to play.
Nicolas Otamendi will partner him once more and although we might see Vincent Kompany warm up on the sidelines from time to time, it is unlikely he will be risked.
Gael Clichy’s reputation of being a better defender than Kolarov is keeping him in the team and that is likely to be the case again.
Fernandinho will again play in the holding midfielder’s role. The Brazilian was back to his all-action mode against Arsenal and City need him to be in the same rhythm if not better.
In the slightly advanced midfield slots, we are likely to see De Bruyne and Silva once more. The duo was not at their most sparkling best in the last game with Silva fading away after the break but they need to be operating at the highest level in order to bully Chelsea.
On the wings will be Pep’s second most favourite breed of players after midfielders which are fast and direct young wingers. Leroy Sane has been absolutely devastating and with Sterling getting much-needed rest after being taken off in the second half in the last game he will also be gearing up to run rings around Alonso.
Sergio Aguero, as usual, will try to play as we have come to expect from El Kun but he will know the need to be much more clinical and relaxed in his approach rather than trying too hard.