Premier League 2018-19: Chelsea v Manchester City, Prediction and Preview
Chelsea have gone from one of the title favourites to hanging on to their top 4 position by the skin of their teeth, in a matter of weeks. That's what a few defeats will do to you in the fast-paced environment of the Premier League. The visit of Manchester City on Saturday, though, provides the Blues with an opportunity to haul themselves back into the championship frame and solidify their current position.
Both sides have very important reasons to win this one and with two of the English top flight's best squads on show, it promises to be an excellent contest.
Wolves 2-1 Chelsea
Chelsea dominated the first half but couldn't convert it into a win on Wednesday night in Wolverhampton.
The opener came about thanks to a huge slice of luck, but it was fully deserved. Ruben Loftus-Cheek continuing his fine form when he cut in from the left to fire the ball into the net, deflecting off Connor Coady on the way. The chances continued to come for away side and this continued into the second half until Wolves equalised against the run of play. Morgan Gibbs-White is Wolves' latest attacking prospect and the youngster produced a perfectly weighted through ball for Raul Jimenez to power into the net. Matt Doherty's cross was probably overhit but it was ideal for Diogo Jota to latch onto and complete an unlikely comeback for the Wanderers, but that's what happens when you don't take your chances.
Watford 1-2 Manchester City
Manchester City bossed the game for large periods down at Vicarage Road but were made to sweat in the late stages against Watford.
City pressed the issue from the off but it took until the last few minutes of the first half to take the lead on Tuesday night. Leroy Sane missed an early chance to go ahead but made no mistake on 40 minutes, converting Riyadh Mahrez's sweet cross with his chest. Mahrez himself would get on the scoresheet after the break, finding himself with plenty of time and space to double the visitor's lead. It wasn't all plain sailing for the Citizens, though, Abdoulaye Doucoure gave the Hornets hope of a late revival after he bundled the ball over the line but it proved no more than a consolation.
David Luiz is expected to return to Chelsea's line-up in place of Anders Christensen but that could be the only change from the midweek clash with Wolves. Olivier Giroud, Mateo Kovacic and Pedro are all knocking on the door for a starting berth, but Sarri could opt to leave that trio on the bench, opting for consistency.
Both Sergio Aguero and Kevin de Bruyne remain on the sidelines but Pep Guardiola has plenty of options to cover what are arguably the club's two best players. Danilo and Raheem Sterling should both return to the starting line-up as Guardiola loves to shuffle his pack, especially with the busy Christmas period coming soon. Don't rule out Aymeric Laporte or Ilkay Gundogan starting either.
Key Player: Bernardo Silva
Not too dissimilar to David, Bernardo Silva's work for City may go unnoticed, but it's crucial to how well they've been playing. Silva's a key vog in Guardiola's midfield, doing a lot of legwork in chasing down opponents when Man City don't have the ball and making space and runs to latch onto passes when they do.
While Chelsea will be focussing their defensive efforts on Jesus, Mahrez and Sterling, they'll have to mark Silva as well, as he's always there to convert from rebounds and from outside the box. Don't rule out him getting a goal at Stamford Bridge tomorrow.
City's unbeaten run to end?
Almost any side would find it difficult to travel away to Stamford Bridge, but if City play like they usually do, it'll be hard to see Chelsea winning this one. However, if Manchester City are to become just the third side in English footballing history to go a top-flight season unbeaten, this will set them well on their way to achieving that. There's still half a campaign to go, but with some difficult games already out of the way, going the whole 38 without a loss is definitely a very real possibility.
Prediction: Chelsea 1-1 Manchester City
Many are predicting Manchester City's unbeaten start to the season to end here, but I think they'll keep that record going, although this could well be a draw. Chelsea have been out of form and will be desperate not to lose another match and I wouldn't rule out Sarri setting his Blues side up defensively. Man City have been in incredible form, but they too won't want to lose this game, especially having already gone to play tough away matches at Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham and come out unscathed. Even if Liverpool win their game and draw level with City, this will be a big step forward to the Sky Blues defending their title.