Manchester City v Chelsea: Citizens to keep Blues at-bay

Manchester City and Chelsea cross swords in Saturday's early Premier League kick-off. Mark O'Haire shares his thoughts on the big match from The Etihad.

City stroll past Swindon

Premier League leaders Manchester City extended their excellent recent winning streak to 14 victories from 15 since the start of November after overcoming a COVID outbreak in the squad to dispatch League Two outfit Swindon in the FA Cup last week. The Citizens ran out 4-1 victors at the County Ground despite 20 players and staff being absent with the virus.

City boss Pep Guardiola was missing from the dugout, whilst seven first-team players - including Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden and Jack Grealish - did not travel, yet the Premier League champions produced a professional performance with goals arriving from Bernardo SilvaGabriel JesusIlkay Gundogan and impressive 19-year-old midfielder Cole Palmer.

Speaking post-match, assistant manager Rodolfo Borrell said: "We started really well, on the front foot. There were moments maybe towards the end of the first half we were not as good as usual and allowed some counter attacks, but overall, it was a good game against good opponents." City are expected to be back to full-strength again on Saturday.

Chelsea book cup final berth


Chelsea produced a trademark-controlled display against Tottenham on Wednesday to secure progression to the Carabao Cup final. The Blues - leading 2-0 from the first leg of their semi-final showdown - closed out a comfortable 3-0 aggregate success with Antonio Rudiger's bundled finish from Mason Mount's corner effectively ending the tie after 18 minutes.

Thomas Tuchel's troops always appeared in control of matters, and the aggregate advantage never looked in danger, despite the Blues being unable to find their best form on a night of frustration for their opposition. Spurs saw two penalties correctly overturned by VAR with Harry Kane also denied a second-half goal for offside as they attempted to battle back.

Chelsea are now into their third successive final under Tuchel, although the German was unhappy with his team's display. He said, "We're happy with the result. In the first half we were the better team. But we lost concentration and focus in the last 15 minutes of the first half and again in the second. We played at 90% and that's not our style - we shouldn't do this."

Citizens odds-on favourites

Manchester City have won 12 of their last 24 Premier League meetings with Chelsea (W12-D3-L9) and are looking to secure their third league double over the Blues since 2015/16 having secured a 1-0 success at Stamford Bridge earlier this season. However, the Citizens have taken top honours twice in their past five trips to The Etihad, including last term.

Man City 1.72 have won their last 11 Premier League games, and have also triumphed in 14 of their most recent 15 fixtures across all competitions. The table-toppers are monopolising the majority of performance data metrics and boasting a significant 1.65 Expected Goals (xG) supremacy per-game, whilst boasting a 79% xG ratio.

Chelsea 5.30 have lost just one of their last 15 Premier League games (W8-D6-L1), going down 3-2 at West Ham in December. However, the Blues have picked up just one win from their last five league games (W1-D4-L0), throwing away a lead in two of those four draws. Meanwhile, Thomas Tuchel's troops are ranked fifth for Expected Points (xP) over their past eight Premier League games.

City can seal narrow success

The Premier League is averaging 2.84 goals per-game with 55% of encounters producing Over 2.5 Goals 1.83 profit. Manchester City's matches are featuring 3.14 goals with Chelsea's league dates coming in at 2.90 goals per-game - although the duo are above-average, the pair tend to be involved in tighter tussles when taking on elite opposition.

The reverse contest concluded with a solitary strike, and only one of City and Chelsea's combined Premier League match-ups with Liverpool, Manchester United, Tottenham and Leicester saw five goals or more plundered, suggesting something similar could be on the cards at The Etihad considering the circumstances afflicting both teams.

Man City don't necessarily need to go gung-ho for maximum points and have recently been subject to a severe COVID outbreak in the squad, and Chelsea arrive here on the back of a taxing League Cup encounter in midweek, meaning a wager on the 1.85 for Manchester City to win and Under 4.5 Goals makes the most appeal at the prices on offer.

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