Thursday night football is back and reigning Premier League champions, Manchester City take a trip to London to face Chelsea. The Cityzens in their last game dropped two points against Everton, seeing them fall further behind Arsenal in the race for top spot.
On the other side, Chelsea are having a topsy-turvy period under Graham Potter. After the restart, they beat Bournemouth 2-0 and drew 1-1 with Nottingham Forest, the latter being a very poor performance away.
Chelsea are without their high-flying wingbacks, Reece James and Ben Chilwell who are nursing knee and hamstring problems. Ruben Loftus-Cheek has also resumed training with the squad but isn’t expected to play a part on Thursday night. N’golo Kanté remains a long-term absentee while Edouard Mendy is also working his way back to fitness.
Ruben Dias remains out with a hamstring injury while Aymeric Laporte is a doubt with a back problem. Julian Alvarez has resumed training and could play a role at Stamford Bridge.
What to expect
Despite not being in the best of form in recent games, Chelsea knows how to turn up and give any team a run for their money. The game against City gives them the opportunity to pick three points off the Cityzens to strengthen their climb up the league log ahead of the London derby with Fulham in the next few days. Unfortunately for the Blues, their bad luck with injuries has shown certain lapses in key areas of the field. Since the restart, players like Mason Mount, Raheem Sterling, Dennis Zakaria and Kai Havertz have looked quite sharp but the team still looks unbalanced with James and Chilwell out injured. They come into the game knowing that dropping more points would have dire consequences and that could see an improvement of the performance put out against Nottingham Forest on New Year’s Day.
For Man City, this game is almost a must-win considering the form of rivals Arsenal who stretched their lead to eight points ahead of Manchester City playing on Thursday night. Erling Haaland has hit 21 goals already but in some games this season, that hasn’t been enough for City to come through with Kevin De Bruyne not hitting his best since the restart. The performance against Everton was completely underwhelming considering City had control for large parts of the game. Chelsea are no easy side to defeat and despite the perceived bad form looks like they could spring a surprise when in the mood. Players like Cancelo and De Bruyne will need to step up on Thursday night if City are to come away with the valuable three points. Pep Guardiola’s boys have the character to claw back the ground lost on Arsenal but it will become even more difficult if they remain eight points behind if they fail to beat Chelsea.
Predicted Starting XIs
Chelsea: Kepa, Azpilicueta, Silva, Koulibaly, Cucurella, Jorginho, Zakaria, Mount, Sterling, Havertz, Aubameyang.
Manchester City: Ederson; Walker, Stones, Laporte, Cancelo; De Bruyne, Rodri, Gundogan; Silva, Haaland, Foden.