Manchester City will host Chelsea tomorrow looking to prevent the Blues from doing the double over them this season. Chelsea are the only team in the top 10 to have beaten the Sky Blues this season and will have the psychological advantage going into tomorrow’s fixture.
There is also the small matter of the title race which is being hotly contested by Liverpool and Manchester City where any further slip-up can cost either team dear. City have fought back well after a horrid December but the 4 defeats have put a dent in their somewhat impregnable aura.
Hence, Chelsea will fancy themselves to nick a result and here we will look at 3 key battles that they have to win in order to put a spanner in Pep’s intricate planning for the game.
SERGIO AGUERO VS ANTONIO RUDIGER
Sergio Aguero is in good nick having scored a hat-trick against Arsenal and despite blanking in the last match, should start up top and will be City’s main goal threat. The Argentine is already on 14 goals despite starting in just 20 games and he will be backed to score at home.
His main barrier in the box will be Antonio Rudiger. The German has been a constant in the Chelsea defence and will look to use his positioning sense and physicality to counter Aguero’s quick movement and dexterity in the box. Whoever comes out on top between the two will hand a huge advantage to their team on the day.
KYLE WALKER VS EDEN HAZARD
Eden Hazard has scored 12 goals and assisted 10 this season and will be Chelsea’s main weapon despite the arrival of Gonzalo Higuain. The Belgian has shown no signs of slowing down and there will be added motivation to perform against one of the best sides in Europe at the moment.
Meanwhile, Kyle Walker’s position renders him as the likeliest obstacle in the Belgian’s path and the Englishman has to be on top of his game to make Hazard’s life as difficult as possible during the 90 minutes. Walker is not really known for his defensive acumen, something he tries hard to make up for with his blistering pace and his habit of playing on the front foot.
But things will be complicated against the Chelsea man and this will certainly be a battle which will have a major say in the outcome of the game.
KEVIN DE BRUYNE VS JORGINHO
Jorginho and Fernandinho play similar roles for their sides but tomorrow we are likely to see Kevin de Bruyne occupy areas which come under Jorginho’s footballing jurisdiction. The Italian is usually tasked with recycling possession thus keeping the ball away from the opposition but tomorrow his hands might be full with De Bruyne and David Silva expected to keep knocking at Chelsea’s defence which will be guarded by Jorginho and N’Golo Kante.
If the Italian can restrict the amount of time and space De Bruyne has on the ball in those areas, the tie can certainly tilt slightly in Chelsea’s favour.