Match Preview

PMB: Chelsea v Man City - matchday

The final part of the Pre-Match Briefing gets you ready for today's game...

• The Blues must hold firm against Man City’s relentless attacking and rapid ball recovery while hoping to exploit their aggressively high defensive line and some-times over-stretched rearguard. The need for pace, diligence and awareness in this encounter may influence Maurizio Sarri’s thinking regarding team selection.

• Like many other coaches Sarri rotated his team in midweek, the second of three league fixtures in seven days. Two players previously ever-present in the league were omitted: David Luiz and Jorginho. Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who made his first league start of the season, did his chances of retaining a place no harm by scoring for a second match in succession.

• Two Chelsea men will hope to maintain their good record in front of goal against the league leaders. Eden Hazard has netted three times in his last four Premier League meetings with City, while Olivier Giroud found the net in each of his past three league starts against them and managed an assist.

• City, who still have work to do to clinch Champions League group leadership on Wednesday, have had an extra day to rest and prepare for this fixture. They defend high up the field and deploy an offside trap, Fernandinho dropping into a centre-back position to allow their full-backs free rein. They have a tendency to take a breather for periods in games, though, and Chelsea must punish them when they do.

• City have conceded in four of their past five top-flight matches without Vincent Kompany on the pitch and the captain departed the field on Tuesday with cramp. However, the preferred centre-back partnership in Pep Guardiola’s usual 4-3-3 is John Stones and Aymeric Laporte (pictured below).

• Sergio Aguero remains sidelined. He scored seven goals in his last six games in all competitions against Chelsea, including two in the Community Shield. Five other City players have netted against the Blues since 2015/16.

Maurizio Sarri's pre-match quotes

‘Pep Guardiola said to me the first season is very difficult in England. For him it was impossible to improve 20 players in the first season. He said to me that in the first season you have to work on only 14 or 15 players, otherwise you are in trouble; you need too much time to improve the whole squad. You need a season just to understand the real situation.

‘Of course every story is different. You learn of course that the Premier League is a fantastic championship but a very difficult one. Every match is difficult. If you are able to win it’s very expensive from a mental and physical point of view. You have to play every three days, you have no time to work, to try to improve the team, so it’s difficult.

‘What would have happened if Guardiola had no time in City? Maybe the best team in the world wouldn’t have been City in the last year.’

Man City manager Pep Guardiola's pre-match quotes

‘Always Stamford Bridge is difficult. I've travelled there many times as a manager and won once - last season. Most of the time I lose there.
‘They are a good side, a really good team. You see the level of people on the bench - they don't play regularly but they are excellent players. They are a real contender, an excellent team.

‘How are they going to react after losing two games? I can imagine how intense, how aggressive and how committed they will be. That's why it's a good test for us, I will welcome that.’

Squad news




Man City
Sergio Aguero
Kevin De Bruyne
Claudio Bravo
Eliaquim Mangala
Benjamin Mendy

Vincent Kompany
Oleksandr Zinchenko


Matchday weather outlook

Cloudy, breezy and cool in west London on Saturday evening.

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