Chelsea host Manchester City in the evening kick off at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
Unfortunately our form has dropped off in the league over the last month with one win in four matches. Poor defensive showings away at Wolves in a 2-1 defeat in our last match on Wednesday, and in the debacle away at Tottenham don’t bode well for the visit of the citizens. They are unbeaten in their fifteen premier league matches so far this season and have the best goal difference in the league, some fourteen goals clear of the next best which is Liverpool who lie second in the table two points off the top.
There is always cause for optimism with Chelsea though. We are so far unbeaten in the league at home this season, winning five and drawing three of our fixtures. We have faced three of last seasons top six at home already, beating Arsenal and drawing with Liverpool and Manchester United. United are coincidentally the last team to beat us at Stamford Bridge as reigning champions thirteen years ago.
In terms of head to head meetings, last season we lost both home and away by the score of 1-0. Our last meeting was at Wembley in this seasons opening fixture, the community shield. That also ended in defeat, this time by two goals to nil. Our last victory against the Manchester side came on the 5th of April 2017, as an Eden Hazard double was enough to secure the points. 2-1 the final score. That was of course the season in which we went on to win the title under Antonio Conte. We doubled Manchester City that season as we had recorded a fantastic 1-3 victory earlier in the season with another goal from Hazard, as well as strikes from Costa and Willian. We also beat them in the FA cup in 2016, smashing them 5-1 in the fifth round as they strangely chose to rest players for an upcoming champions league tie. Of the last ten meetings between the sides in all competitions Chelsea have won three, Man City six, and there have been three draws. The overall head to head reads Chelsea 66 wins, Man City 55, with 39 draws. Our worst run of results against them was between 1936 and 49 when we failed to record a win in nine consecutive matches. In the twenty years between 1936 and 1956 we only recorded two wins in nineteen attempts. Our best run was between 1984 and 2009. Manchester City only managed three wins in forty-one matches against us. In this period we managed eight consecutive wins between 1984 and 1987, including the famous 5-4 full members cup final win at Wembley in 1986. We also managed the same feet between 2005 and 2009. The most famous matches between the two sides from a Chelsea point of view are the previously mentioned full members cup final in which David Speedie scored a hat-trick, and the two 1-0 wins in the cup winners cup semi final of 1971. This fixture was certainly the one to watch if you were a neutral in the mid to late fifties. Between 1956 and 1958 six consecutive fixtures between the sides averaged over 6 goals a game! This included an astonishing 4-5 defeat at Stamford Bridge!
Taking us back up to date with team news now. Maurizio Sarri has declared everyone fit and available for selection. Changes were made to the team against Wolves during the week that give us some sort of clue as to the proposed line up on Saturday. At the back Luiz was rested, so expect him to return alongside Rudiger. Despite poor form in the previous two matches Alonso is likely to be preferred to Emerson at left back, meaning the usual back four selected for our premier league matches will take to the field. Jorginho and Kovacic were both on the bench Wednesday ahead of this weekend’s fixture, but Kovacic was called into action in the second half as Sarri tried to turn things around. Expect both to play with Kante in midfield. The front three is slightly more difficult to predict aside from Hazard. Morata and Giroud have been alternating, as have Willian and Pedro. Willian did not have a good night, while Pedro netted in our last home match against Fulham. Giroud has scored in his last three appearances against City, so I will stick my neck out and predict a Hazard, Giroud, Pedro front three. As always the shape will be 4-3-3. Manchester City have a few injuries. Aguero is ruled out again, whilst Zinchenko is a doubt. Kevin De Bruyne is not fit enough to return for this match.
It will require a turn around in form for both sides here in order for Chelsea to take three points, but it would be so very Chelsea to go and record a win here against all odds. Speaking of odds lets talk betting. Manchester City have not conceded more than one goal in any away league match this season, and Chelsea will inevitably have to tighten up after recent displays. Often matches between teams at the top end of the league are over hyped and produce fewer goals than expected. As a result I will offer up a 1-0 Chelsea win at 17/2 (Betfred) as the most likely home win score line.