Having beaten Arsenal twice in just over four days, Manchester City face yet another tough task this weekend, as they welcome Antonio Conte’s Chelsea to Etihad in the Premier League. City are 16 points in the lead at the top of the table but Guardiola will not want any complacency late in the season and is expected to field his strongest XI for this tie.
The Blues will believe that they have enough to take a result from this game but will need a number of their players to be at the top of their game. There are a few City players that need to be kept in check and there are a number of in-game battles., that can decide the outcome of the game. Here are three such crucial battles to look out for in this tie:
Sergio Aguero vs Andreas Christensen:
Italian mastermind Conte has used young Danish star Christensen on a regular basis at the heart of his backline but there are very few games where he will be tested as much as he will be at Etihad. Aguero, who failed to find the back of the net in the league game against Arsenal, will be pumped up to score his 200th for City and should be kept quiet by Christensen. The 21-year old needs to be composed and has to soak up the pressure and frustrate Aguero, else the Argentine can just run away with the game.
Leroy Sane vs Cesar Azpilicueta:
One of the most effective players for City this season, Sane picked up a goal and an assist in the game against Arsenal and is bang in form. Chelsea will need Victor Moses to keep a close eye on him but it will be Cesar Azpilicueta, who will be under severe pressure. The Spaniard stands as one of the best defenders in the league at the moment and will make it really tough for Sane but the German has been hard to mark and can easily hurt the Chelsea backline. If he is kept in check, Chelsea have a real chance of taking a result from this game.
Eden Hazard vs Kyle Walker:
Though Hazard has been effective as a false-9, Chelsea will need a striker to test City, pushing the Belgian on the left flank. He will be up against Kyle Walker, who has not been as assured in defence as he has been effective in attack. City’s style of play sees the need to add width in attack for most of the game but he will also have to keep Hazard away from danger, which might limit his attacking prowess this weekend. If Hazard can get the better of Walker, City will be under serious pressure at the back.