PMB: Man City v Chelsea - matchday

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

• In the reverse fixture to today’ back in December, Chelsea snapped at the heels of City with a sustained high tempo until the visitors lost fluency, winning the ball high upfield close to goal or exploiting the extra numbers they commit to attack with long, angled passes to wide areas. Several opponents have targeted City’s full-back areas.

• Last weekend’s win against Huddersfield showed early promise of poacher Gonzalo Higuain fitting into a system he knows well from Maurizio Sarri’s Napoli – he has 38 goals in 37 league outings under the Italian. It also suggested Mateo Kovacic is able to fill in for Jorginho, who has been nursing a groin injury, in the pivotal central midfield role. Ethan Ampadu is a more defensive option if a lead needs protecting.

• Both teams’ goalkeepers are required to be excellent on the ball and Kepa Arrizabalaga’s accuracy of distribution has 87 per cent of his passes reaching their target compared to Ederson’s 84 per cent.


• The vast majority of the Man City team could be playing their third big match in eight days, with Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling likely to be recalled to the starting line-up. No top-six player has committed more fouls than City’s Fernandinho. Against Arsenal last weekend the 33-year-old midfielder was preferred at centre-back to John Stones, who has started each of City’s four league defeats.

• De Bruyne was absent, along with Sergio Aguero, from Chelsea’s 2-0 win at the Bridge. Aguero has scored seven goals in 12 appearances against the Blues; no other current City player has managed more than one.

• City created several chances from set-plays in that game but it was David Luiz who scored from Eden Hazard’s corner. That was the Belgian’s second assist of the match, and he has had a hand in seven goals in the past eight league games against the Citizens.

Maurizio Sarri's pre-match quotes

'Now we have some problems to score and we are working on this. Against Bournemouth we played with four or five players with their backs to the opposition goal. We need to receive the ball on the run, not receive it there with our backs to goal, so we have to improve in this.

'In the last match we reacted very well in the first half, but then we closed spaces ourselves because we stayed too tight with the three offensive players so it was easy for the defenders to defend against us. Sometimes we have to stay high and wide, we have to go inside to receive the ball, not stay inside.'

City boss Pep Guardiola’s pre-match quotes

‘It's quite possible De Bruyne does not play. Every player knows it's quite possible to play and quite possible not to. It is what it is. At the end we judge the players for who they are but they are to perform. There are moments when they are not in better condition, when team-mates are in better condition than them.

‘In football what you have done is in the past. You have to do it again.’

Squad news


Slight Doubt
Gary Cahill
Callum Hudson-Odoi


Man City
Claudio Bravo
Vincent Kompany
Benjamin Mendy


Matchday weather outlook

Dry, cool and breezy, with the possibility of some sun in east Manchester this afternoon.


- Follow the game in our Match Centre

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