Man City vs Chelsea: Pep Guardiola vs Frank Lampard
The match between Manchester City and Chelsea on Saturday Night Football is the biggest game of the defending champions’ season – and here’s why.
After Manchester city crushing 3-1 defeat at Liverpool before the international break, the defending champions’ season is at a crossroads. They need a response, not another setback.
But, with the Premier League’s in-form team Chelsea on their way to the Etihad, come Saturday night, we will know whether the champions have the stomach for the fight or whether Liverpool really did strike a psychological blow.
Of course, Guardiola has chased down teams in title races before, but only once has he won the league having trailed at this stage of the season, and that was with arguably the greatest of his Barcelona teams in 2011, where they overturned a one-point deficit after 12 games to win La Liga.
Never before has he been this far off the pace in his top-flight managerial career, and to make matters worse, he has never taken fewer points from his opening 12 games of a top-flight season than this term.
Whether Guardiola can adapt his squad’s psyche from being hunted to the hunter remains to be seen, but if City were to go on and win the Premier League from this position, it would be up there with his greatest achievements at City, if not his career.
The worst is yet to come?
Having faced just two of the current top eight in their opening 12 fixtures, the visit of Chelsea ushers in the start of Manchester City’s most-testing period in the Premier League so far.
Manchester City hit Chelsea for six in an imperious performance in the same fixture last season, but this time around, Frank Lampard’s side arrive at the Etihad as the Premier League’s in-form team.
The Blues have won their last six games on the bounce – their best run in the division since their title-winning 2016/17 campaign – and another could well see them replace City as the chief challengers to Liverpool.
Winning away at City is no formality, as last season proved, but with Chelsea boasting the best record against Guardiola since he moved to the Premier League – three wins from six encounters – the blueprint is there for Lampard’s current crop.
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola says that he can see the comparisons between himself and Chelsea manager Frank Lampard
Attack, attack, attack
Whatever the outcome of Saturday’s match, it promises to be a belter, with two of the Premier League’s most attack-minded sides locking horns.
Manchester City top the goalscoring, shots and quality chances created charts by a sizable margin this season, but Chelsea are not too far behind.
Both sides boast one of the Premier League’s top scorers, Sergio Aguero and Tammy Abraham, with both strikers are among five of the top seven players for expected goals and expected assists that could feature at the Etihad, along with Raheem Sterling, Christian Pulisic and David Silva.
Watch Man City vs Chelsea on Saturday Night Football from 5pm Premier League; Kick-off 5.30pm.