Chelsea enter this mouth-watering clash after their disappointing outing against Manchester United where a star turn by Romelu Lukaku ensured Jose took his revenge against Antonio Conte. That result has turned this into a must-win match for The Blues as the race for top four is heating up as they find themselves 5 points behind fourth-placed Tottenham, albeit with this game in hand.
Anything but a win would dent Chelsea’s top four chances drastically with their rivals facing relatively easier fixtures. Conte would be highly reliant on the in-form pairing of Willian and Hazard with Morata yet to find the back of the net since Boxing Day.
With Giroud breathing down his neck, it is high time the Spaniard finds his rhythm if he is to keep his place in the side.
Here is how Conte is expected to deploy his team against Pep’s free-flowing Manchester City side.
Conte will be expected to field the same backline that faced United at Old Trafford. Thibaut Courtois will be the man between the sticks while the three centre-backs who could feature at the Etihad are Andreas Christensen, Antonio Rudiger and captain Cesar Azpilicueta. The three will have to be at their very best to contain the rampant attack of The Citizens.
Conte will once again look for solidity in the middle of midfield to cope with the physicality and pressing of the City players. With that in mind, N’Golo Kante and Danny Drinkwater are expected to take the centre midfield roles flanked by Marcos Alonso and Victor Moses who will have their defensive duties cut out. The wide-men will have to be industrious going forward if they are to cause damage to this City side.
Chelsea’s attacking line-up has gone through some tweaks recently given Morata’s dip in form and the arrival of Olivier Giroud following Batshuayi’s departure. However, the Italian will be extremely dependent on Eden Hazard and Willian to crack Manchester City’s defence open given their recent form.
Morata will definitely have to up his game and produce a better display than the one at Old Trafford where he was bullied and contained by the United defenders. If he can find the sort of form that he possessed at the start of the season, we might have a thrilling game on our hands. Let us hope that is the case.