FIVE wins and Manchester Metropolis can be topped Premier League champions- it’s that easy for Pep Guardiola’s dominant aspect.
Standing of their means this weekend are Chelsea, who want a victory to make sure they don’t get minimize adrift within the race for Champions League soccer.
Defeat to Manchester United final weekend left the Blues exterior of the highest 4.
They’re two factors behind fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur, who’ve a winnable dwelling fixture towards Huddersfield on Saturday.
If Spurs win that sport the strain can be heaped on Antonio Conte’s aspect.
They’ll’t afford one other defeat, though halting, albeit quickly, Metropolis’s march to the title can be a close to unimaginable job.
Guardiola’s aspect have dropped simply two factors on the Etihad all season.
They’ve conceded simply 10 objectives on their very own patch too. Chelsea’s job can be extremely troublesome.
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Sunday’s fixture, which is able to kick-off at 4pm and be proven stay on Sky Sports activities, is the Premier League’s stand-out sport this weekend.
And we requested our mates at Soccer Whispers to preview the showdown.
Key Battle: Kevin De Bruyne vs N’Golo Kante
Chelsea followers surprise what may of been each time the good Belgian produces a second of magic for the Residents.
He was a Blues participant for 2 years, however solely made 9 appearances in all competitions earlier than being offered off to Wolfsburg by Jose Mourinho in January 2014.
Metropolis spent £50m to carry him again to the Premier League 18 months later and De Bruyne has confirmed a cut price.
He has been concerned in 90 objectives for the Manchester membership in his 131 appearances and his intelligence and workrate is significant to creating Guardiola’s aspect tick.
De Bruyne, who has performed deeper this season, is the brains and lungs of the Metropolis group.
Whereas an skilled creator the 26-year-old typically covers extra floor than his teammates. He’s proof that combining laborious graft with uncooked expertise pays off handsomely.
The identical could possibly be mentioned for the person who should shackle De Bruyne, and David Silva for that matter.
N’Golo Kante can also be one of many best midfielders in European soccer, however it’s largely due to what he brings to a aspect with out the ball.
The diminutive Frenchman is inexhaustible and with out him doing the defensive jobs of two males, Conte’s aspect wouldn’t perform wherever close to as effectively.
This season Kante has averaged the third highest interceptions per 90 within the Premier League (Three.Four) and has additionally made 2 interceptions per 90.
Contemplating the 2 gamers above him within the former metric, Wilfred Ndidi and Idrissa Gueye, play in sides who don’t dominate the ball like Chelsea, it’s testomony to simply how a lot defensive work Chelsea’s No.7 will get via.
Potential Match Winners: Sergio Aguero and Eden Hazard
No shock names right here, however let’s begin with Aguero. Manchester Metropolis’s all-time high scorer has been in distinctive kind for the reason that begin of February and has 9 objectives in his final six Premier League video games.
The Argentine has seemingly gained the belief of Guardiola along with his improved workrate off the ball and extra nuanced strategy with it – Aguero already has seven assists this time period, his greatest return for the reason that 2014/15 marketing campaign.
“We’re so delighted with Sergio and what he has finished to this point,” Guardiola mentioned after Aguero scored within the Carabao Cup closing win over Arsenal.
“He has scored objectives and the way in which he works when he has the ball and doesn’t have the ball has been implausible.
“Typically I’m demanding of him and the others, however that’s solely as a result of I would like the very best for them and I believe he can do even higher.”
Whereas Aguero can be certainly one of many potential match-winners within the Metropolis aspect, the stand-out for Chelsea is Hazard.
The Belgian is undoubtedly probably the most proficient footballers in Europe – no participant completes extra dribbles in Europe’s high 5 leagues – however the problem for any Blues boss is to ensure Hazard produces week in, week out.
This time period Hazard’s performances have been way more constant and it’s why he has 15 objectives and 11 assists to his identify regardless of lacking the opening weeks of the season.
Used as a false 9 every so often or as a second striker in a Three-5-2 system, the 27-year-old has been performed via the center way more typically however he insists his favoured place is on the left of Chelsea’s assault.
Given the type of Willian and the necessity for a striker to carry up possession when Chelsea do have the ball, Hazard is prone to be fielded in his most well-liked place.
Final season on the Etihad the previous Lille man scored in a shock Three-1 win. These of a Blues persuasion can be hoping for the same end result this time round.
Once more there are unlikely to be any shocks. Guardiola’s Metropolis aspect are purring of their Four-Three-Three form, with Leroy Sane stretching defences on the left, David Silva and De Bruyne exploiting gaps within the center, and Bernardo Silva reducing infield from the suitable flank.
Ilkay Gundogan ought to deputise for the damage Fernandinho on the base of the Metropolis midfield whereas the again 4 might even see John Stones are available for Vincent Kompany, who has already performed two video games previously week.
Conte is prone to play Three-Four-Three with Cesar Azpilicueta, Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger making an attempt to close down the Metropolis assault.
Victor Moses and Marcos Alonso would be the wing-backs whereas Cesc Fabregas ought to companion Kante in midfied.
Hazard and Willian are anticipated to start out, however Conte has a call to make between Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud because the chief of his assault.
Manchester Metropolis have gained simply one of many final 4 video games between the 2 sides on the Etihad Stadium (D1 L2)
The Residents have scored no less than twice of their final 13 Premier League dwelling video games. Liverpool maintain the present file at 14.
Chelsea have been overwhelmed thrice of their final 4 league video games. Previous to that they’d misplaced simply three of their earlier 23 fixtures.
Sergio Aguero is one objective away from scoring 200 instances for Manchester Metropolis in all competitions.