Chelsea will face Manchester City today in a clash which will go a long way in shaping the manner in which the next few months will be played out in the Premier League.
City need a win to keep the pressure on Liverpool while Chelsea’s top 4 ambitions will also be massively boosted if they manage to nick 3 points. Incidentally, the Blues are the only ‘big’ side this season to win against City and there will be a slight psychological advantage for Sarri’s men going into today’s match.
CHELSEA TEAM NEWS
Maurizio Sarri expects a clean bill of health for today’s clash. Antonio Rudiger should return after a minor knee niggle kept him out against Huddersfield Town. Callum Hudson-Odoi (fever) and Gary Cahill (back) are slight doubts but they are unlikely to feature even if fit.
PREDICTED CHELSEA LINEUP VS MANCHESTER CITY (4-3-3)
Kepa Arrizabalaga will start in goal. He has been impressive in his first season in England and will attempt to add another feather to his cap with a clean sheet against the mighty ‘Centurions’.
Cesar Azpilicueta will start at right-back. The Spaniard’s experience will come in handy facing up to the likes of Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling.
Antonio Rudiger is expected to come back into the lineup in place of Andreas Christensen. The German’s contribution alongside David Luiz in central defence will be crucial. He has to deal with an in-form Sergio Aguero and that is not going to be an easy task.
Marcos Alonso reclaimed his left-back spot from Emerson in the last game and should start once again.
Jorginho has been a constant in the holding midfield role. He will be the lynchpin in midfield and if the Italian has a good day, the midfield battle will be half-won.
N’Golo Kante is set to continue in the right midfield slot. His attacking contributions have grown in frequency since his opening goal against City and Pep will be mindful of not ceding too much space or time to the Frenchman on the edge of the box.
Mateo Kovacic, when fit, has been preferred in the left-midfield role against the top sides and we might see something similar once again with Ross Barkley dropping out.
Sarri has previously opined on his tendency to play Eden Hazard in a false 9 role citing the balance it gave to the squad. But with a proven goalscorer like Gonzalo Higuain in the team, we are likely to see Hazard on the left wing and Higuain up top with Willian flanking the right-wing.