PREMIER LEAGUE pace-setters Manchester City face arguably their toughest test of the season on Saturday with a trip to champions Chelsea in the teatime kick off.
Pep Guardiola’s side have been scarily good in the opening weeks of the new season, dropping just two points and climbing to the summit by bagging 21 goals in just six games.
But Chelsea, despite a shock opening-day defeat to Burnley, are hot on their tails and just two points off the leaders.
Guardiola and Antonio Conte both have great quality at their disposal.
But who would make up a combined Chelsea-Manchester City XI?
Our friends at Football Whispers ponder that question.
Goalkeeper: Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea)
Now in his fourth season as Chelsea’s first-choice keeper, the big Belgian just edges out City No1 Ederson who has made a solid start to life in the Premier League.
Courtois, who saw off Petr Cech at Stamford Bridge, won the Golden Glove award for keeping most clean sheets in the Premier League last term with 16 and has three shutouts already this term.
Right-back: Kyle Walker (Manchester City)
England international Walker briefly became the world’s most expensive defender this summer when he moved to the Etihad Stadium in a £45m deal from Tottenham.
Red card against Everton aside, the flying full-back has settled into life at City with minimal fuss and given Guardiola’s side a new dimension with his marauding runs from right-back.
He already has three assists in the Premier League and Champions League to show for his efforts.
Centre-back: Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea)
Part of a three-man backline at Chelsea, the versatile Spaniard is a model of consistency and has been since moving from Marseille for a bargain £7m in 2012.
Now vice-captain of the West Londoners, Azpilicueta has played in every defensive position for the Blues.
But he looks assured at centre-back where he averages two tackles and 1.2 interceptions per game in the Premier League this season.
Centre-back: Gary Cahill (Chelsea)
With David Luiz suspended for Saturday’s fixture, Chelsea skipper Cahill gets the nod over City defenders John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi in our combined XI.
The former Bolton defender has matured at Stamford Bridge and took over from the departing John Terry as captain in the summer.
This season has been stop-start thanks to an opening-day dismissal but Cahill has still managed 0.7 tackles and interceptions per game, plus three clearances.
Left-back: Marcos Alonso (Chelsea)
With the hugely impressive Benjamin Mendy set for a spell on the sidelines, Chelsea No3 Alonso gets the nod on the left-hand side of defence.
The Spaniard, who arrived from Fiorentina in a £24m deal last summer, spent the second half of the 2013/14 season on loan at Sunderland.
But he improved in Florence and is now as one of the Premier League’s best in his position.
His match-winning brace in the victory over Spurs on the second weekend of the season underlined that.
Central midfield: Kevin de Bruyne (Manchester City)
Thriving in a deeper role in midfield, former Chelsea man de Bruyne recorded more assists (18) than anyone in the Premier League last season and has been at it again this term with three in six games.
The Belgian playmaker has been getting plenty of praise from Guardiola, too.
“Kevin is one of the best players I have ever seen in my life,” the Catalan said after his performance in 4-0 Champions League demolition of Feyenoord.
Central midfield: N’Golo Kante (Chelsea)
With such an attacking side a ball-winning midfielder would be required to add balance and protection. And in Kante, Chelsea have just the player.
The former Leicester City man helped the Foxes win the title before retaining it at Chelsea last season and winning the PFA Player of the Year award.
The French cap is already averaging four tackles per game this term – the third-most in the Premier League.
Central midfield: David Silva (Manchester City)
The smooth-passing Spaniard has gone under appreciated since joining from Valencia in 2010 but there is no danger of that among City supporters.
After six Premier League fixtures the World Cup winner is averaging an assist per game while completing 90.3% of the passes he attempts and supplying 3.8 key passes per game. And no-one averages more passes per match than Silva’s 84.
Forward: Eden Hazard (Chelsea)
Hazard is back in full-flow having returned from injury earlier this month.
Having made his return for Chelsea against Leicester on September 7, Hazard appears to have got himself up to speed as he shone against Atletico Madrid midweek.
On his day one of the best in the world, there’s no doubt he makes it into our combined XI.
Forward: Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City)
Signed from Palmeiras last summer for £27m, City had to wait until January to get Jesus to the Etihad Stadium.
But the Brazilian striker was well worth the delay and hit the ground running with a goal every 93 minutes in the league as he took to life in England immediately.
This season he has continued at an incredible rate, bagging four in just five to give him a total of 11 in just 13 Premier League starts.
Forward: Alvaro Morata (Chelsea)
Signed to replace Atletico Madrid-bound Diego Costa, the former Manchester United transfer target has hit the ground running in England with six goals in his first six Premier League games – including a hat-trick at Stoke City last weekend.
The former Real Madrid and Juventus forward appears to be relishing being first choice at a big club after playing bit-part roles elsewhere.
Morata is a two-time Champions League winner and did the double with Los Blancos last season.
Morata would have to play a slightly withdrawn role in this side but couldn’t be left out even with Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane and Pedro for competition.