happy days!

Reaching the Champions League final feels a little surreal as it’s something the Club and everyone connected to it has been dreaming about for many years.

It’s taken a monumental effort from a magnificent set of footballers and a wonderful manager and backroom staff who have gone above and beyond this season to keep us entertained through an incredibly challenging year.

Now, we have a chance to lift the most coveted trophy in club football, though Chelsea represent a formidable hurdle.

It would be the perfect end to an unforgettable season when football has kept so many people’s spirits up, but whatever happens on May 29, it is an amazing achievement by Pep and his players.

But that’s all to come in a few weeks and we still have domestic business to wrap up.

Chelsea are Saturday’s visitors, though it’s doubtful the two starting XIs will be the same in Istanbul. Three points and we'll be champions, so that's all the incentive we need, surely.

You’ll know the format of our digital programmes well by now so we’ve all the usual content including an in-depth focus on our opponents, Pep’s manager notes and Buzzer’s regular column.

Marc Riley interviews a City fan of his choice in his own inimitable way and Kev Cummins stokes the flames of the old Oasis (City) v Blur (Chelsea) feud as he delves into his treasure trove of photographic magic.

Enjoy the programme and, more importantly, enjoy the game.

Pep's pre-game thoughts...

Hello and a warm welcome to the Etihad Stadium to Thomas Tuchel and his Chelsea staff.

Thomas and I know each other well as we were competitors in Germany before he moved to London. He has enjoyed a great start to his football life at Stamford Bridge.

Of course, we will meet today’s opponents again in three weeks’ time in the UEFA Champions League final but today has no bearing on that and is all about winning three points in the Premier League and nothing else.

On Tuesday night we created history for Manchester City with a 2-0 (4-1 aggregate) victory over PSG and today we want to generate even more.

Winning this game would make us English champions for the third time in four years and that would be a very special achievement in a Premier League that is so tough, asks so many questions week in and week out and is so competitive.

We know it will not be easy because we face a Chelsea team that is in great form having beaten Real Madrid in midweek. They are in two finals and are still battling to finish in the top four.

For us to beat PSG over two legs was an incredible effort by our players who showed their personality and quality - as they have done consistently over many years now. To reach the final of that competition is so difficult. The quality of the opponent and the composure you need to maintain to get through the toughest moments is there for everyone to see. You cannot afford to make any mistakes, or you are out.

What we have done in the last four seasons is incredible. In terms of the Premier League, the Carabao Cup, and every competition.

Reaching the UCL final helps us to understand and put some perspective around what we have done, and I am sure that the fans, even though they have not been able to be with us this season, are so incredibly proud. We have missed them a lot.

Some were able to come to Wembley for the Carabao final against Tottenham and created a great atmosphere. Hopefully, more will be at the Everton game and the UCL final. Our successes are for them. This club means so much to them and we appreciate that.   

Now we want more. We cannot stop here. There is still much to do. We still need points to clinch the title and then we can start thinking about preparations for May 29th.

Enjoy the game everyone.

Our Club Ambassador's regular column...

I’d like to start off this column by congratulating Pep, his staff, and the players on reaching our first Champions League final.

Paris Saint-Germain are a very good side, but over the two legs, we were better and fully deserved to win.

Every player that played on Tuesday were excellent and it was a superb team performance from start to finish.

The Paris players and their club officials were distraught after the game because they believed they were going to the final again and I think they expected to beat us.

Now we have a first Champions League final to look forward to and possibly end this magnificent season on the highest of highs.

Chelsea are a formidable side under Thomas Tuchel and they will be a tough opponent, but we know them well and I think it will be a terrific game.

It’s a magnificent achievement for this football club and it is something we’ve been building towards ever since Sheikh Mansour took over in 2008.

And how strange that the city we played our very first European Cup tie in some 53 years ago will now host the Champions League final.

I played in that game in 1968 when we played Fenerbahce and now we return to Istanbul hoping to win the biggest prize in club football.

It is ironic that we play them in our first game since reaching football – that’s how it sometimes falls but I don’t think Saturday’s game will have any bearing on the final.

We just need to get the points we need to win the Premier League title and then focus on the final.

The sooner we can do that, the better, because Pep will be able to rest those who need it to ensure we go into the match in Istanbul with fresh legs and minds.

Will Chelsea be able to do that? I’m not so sure because they have the FA Cup final and still have to secure a Champions League berth.

It will be an interesting few weeks.

Finally, I’d like to send my sincere condolences to a close friend of mine who passed away earlier this week.

Alan McLoughlin was a lovely man and was very close to my son Nicholas who is very upset at his passing.

He helped Nick such a lot while he was at Swindon and we are thinking of his family at this incredibly difficult time.

Take care and enjoy the match.

CHELSEA:
THE SEASON SO FAR

2020/21 campaign in detail...

Few could have predicted the rollercoaster campaign that awaited Chelsea.

A 3-1 opening day win at Brighton was the ideal start for Frank Lampard’s side, though a 2-0 home defeat to champions Liverpool six days later was a more sobering result.

Barnsley were then dispatched 6-0 in the Carabao Cup, but a dreadful first 27 minutes away to West Brom in the next game saw the basement Baggies go 3-0 up at The Hawthorns, before Chelsea rallied after the break to draw 3-3.

A 1-1 Carabao Cup draw with Spurs resulted in a penalty shoot-out that ended in a 5-4 defeat to complete an unsatisfactory opening month for the West Londoners.

Three wins and three draws in October was a marked improvement, with a 4-0 win over Crystal Palace followed by a deflating 3-3 home draw with Southampton – the visitors had trailed 2-0 at one stage and snatched an added time leveller to cause further frustration.

The Champions League campaign would kick off with a 0-0 draw with Sevilla and a 4-0 win away to Krasnodar – with a 0-0 Premier League draw away to Manchester United sandwiched in-between.

Chelsea’s 3-0 win at Burnley put them in fourth spot in the table and November would see Lampard’s side kick on again.

A 3-0 Champions League win over Rennes was followed with victories over Sheffield United and Newcastle United which left Chelsea just two points off leaders Spurs.

Rennes were beaten again  - this time 2-1 on their own soil – before a top-of-the-table clash with Spurs ended 0-0 at Stamford Bridge – Chelsea were back on track and seemingly serious contenders for the title.

When December began with a 4-0 away win to Sevilla and 3-1 win over Leeds, Lampard’s men went top of the Premier League and through to the Champions League Round of 16 as group winners.

A dead-rubber 1-1 draw with Krasnodar was then followed by single goal losses to Everton and Wolves, but a 3-0 win over West Ham gave Chelsea supporters an early Christmas present.

But there were still bumps in the road and a 3-1 loss to Arsenal and a disappointing 1-1 draw with Aston Villa ended 2020 on a flat note.

Perhaps he most damaging result of he campaign would be the first of 2021, when an injury-hit City blew Chelsea away in a devastating first 34 minutes that saw goals from Ilkay Gundogan, Phil Foden and Kevin De Bruyne give Pep Guardiola’s men a 3-0 lead.

Though the hosts pulled an added time consolation goal back, the manner of the defeat left Lampard and the Chelsea board shell-shocked.

Though Morecambe were safely dispatched 4-0 in the FA Cup and 10-man Fulham seen off with a Mason Mount goal, a 2-0 loss at Leicester saw Chelsea drop to eighth in the table with pressure piling on Lampard’s shoulders.

A much-needed 3-1 win over Luton Town in the FA Cup, however, would be Lampard’s last game in charge and he was sacked two days later, leaving the football world a little stunned.

The Pensioners wasted no time replacing the former City midfielder with former Dortmund and PSG boss Thomas Tuchel who was installed in time for the 0-0 draw with Wolves.

Tuchel immediately set about working on the defensive shape of the team and ended the month with a 2-0 win over Burnley.

The Tuchel era was off and running.

The German’s remarkable impact was evident in February when five wins out of seven were achieved, including a place in the FA Cup quarter-finals and a Round of 16 first leg win over Atletico Madrid.

Chelsea were unbeaten in Tuchel’s first nine matches, winning six and drawing three while they conceded just two goals.

And it got better.

A 1-0 win against Liverpool was followed with a 2-0 victory over Everton and a 0-0 draw at Leeds which left them in fourth spot in the table.

The Pensioners finished the job off against Atletico Madrid with a 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge and another 2-0 FA Cup win over Sheffield United meant Tuchel’s record was 11 wins, four draws, no losses and just two goals conceded – a remarkable start to life in West London.

So, imagine the shock when relegation-bound West Brom thrashed Chelsea 5-2 at Stamford Bridge at the start of April! A 'coupon-buster' of ever there was.

It was a bizarre result that Tuchel – with justification – claimed was just a very bad day at the office.

Beating Crystal Palace 4-1 and then seeing off Porto over two legs was followed by a 1-0 FA Cup semi-final win over City at Wembley in an impressive response to the Baggies set-back.

Chelsea finished April with a 0-0 draw at home to Brighton, a 1-0 win at West Ham and a 1-1 Champions League semi-final first leg draw with Real Madrid.

The fairy-tale start to Tuchel’s Chelsea career showed no sign of ending with a 2-0 win over Fulham followed by a 2-0 win over Real Madrid to set up a Champions League final against City at the end of the month.

With the FA Cup final to come against Leicester, Tuchel will want to ensure his side clinch a Champions League berth in the next few weeks, but they have a tough run-in, starting with City then games against Villa, Leicester, and Arsenal. Then, Istanbul awaits...


City v Chelsea: our history

With 168 previous meetings stretching back 114 years, City versus Chelsea is a fixture with a rich history...

We have battled in the top flight, second tier, Europe, FA Cup, League Cup, Charity Shield, Simod Cup and Full Members Cup and all with very mixed fortunes.

There have been thrashings handed out by both sides and in the last 15 years, both teams have had 6-0 victories on home soil.

It has rarely been dull when City and Chelsea get together.

So, where to begin?

Let’s start at the very beginning with the first meeting which ended in a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge.

The next two meetings were both at Hyde Road and each time, Chelsea emerged victorious.

Our first win over the West London side was in 1908, with a 2-1 victory the first in four attempts.

The first time the teams met at City’s new Maine Road home came in the inaugural campaign in Moss Side and ended in a 1-0 win for the sky blues.

From 1936 to 1955 City had the better of the games, losing just two of 19 meetings in league and cup (winning nine and drawing eight).

And City put five goals past Chelsea in three successive Maine Road meetings between 1956 and 1958 with a 15-7 aggregate across the games.

In 1971, an injury-hit City side were drawn against Chelsea in the European Cup Winners’ Cup semi-final.

The Blues were defending the title won a year earlier in Vienna but Chelsea would win both legs by a score of 1-0 to progress to the final.

City enjoyed a 6-2 win in November 1977, with Dennis Tueart bagging a hat-trick and two years later, Ron Futcher scored a treble in a 4-1 victory at Stamford Bridge.

But the 1980s were dominated by Chelsea who seemed to become a jinx side almost overnight.

In that decade, we won just two of a dozen meetings in all competitions, with Chelsea claiming nine victories.

One of those games was the Full Members Cup final at Wembley – a competition dreamed up because of English football’s European ban – and though derided by many, City and Chelsea made it to the final where more than 68,000 fans watched an extraordinary game that saw Chelsea go into the final few minutes 5-1 up only for City to score three goals in the time that remained to lose 5-4.

The Pensioners enjoyed five successive wins at Maine Road during that period.

In 1993 City beat Chelsea 4-2 at Stamford Bridge, watched by a crowd of just 15,939, though it’s fair to say football in England was going through one of its lowest ebbs.

Between November 1993 and February 2004, Chelsea dominated, winning nine and drawing three of the 12 matches played.

In October 2004, Jose Mourinho’s unbeaten Chelsea saw their run end as Nicolas Anelka stroked home the penalty that earned City a rare 1-0 win at the Etihad.

The corresponding fixture ended 0-0, but it was a brief respite with Chelsea winning the next eight meetings before Mark Hughes’ side recorded an excellent 4-2 win at Stamford Bridge, ending a run of one City win in 22 meetings!

In 2012, City beat Chelsea 3-2 in the FA Community Shield and eight months later, goals from Samir Nasri and Sergio Aguero saw City edge the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley 2-1.

City again won the Community Shield 2-0 in 2018 and then handed Chelsea a 6-0 Premier League drubbing in 2019 – one of six wins in seven meetings – and earlier this season, a stunning 3-1 win at Stamford Bridge arguably gave the Blues belief to go on a run that has left us within one win of a third title in four seasons.

The last meeting was the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley, with the Pensioners edging a 1-0 win to progress to the final.

Istanbul will host the highest profile meeting of the two teams in the 114 years of clashes…

KEVIN CUMMINS:
the north south divide

Kevin Cummins reveals the story behind an unusual experiment...

Congratulations to both City and Chelsea for getting to the UEFA Champions League Final - or as it will come to be known: the Final Battle of Britpop. In the sky blue corner is the biggest band to ever come out of Manchester: Oasis. And in the dark blue corner is a local London pop quartet: Blur.

I photographed both bands extensively - and I like both too, obviously. It was much easier to shoot Noel and Liam in Man City shirts than to indulge Damon Albarn with a Chelsea shirt. I did photograph him in a Chelsea hat once, but in mitigation, we were in Iceland and it was freezing cold.

Anyway: here are a few photos to keep the spirits up, until the powers that be, decide whether or not we can go to the final...

Kevin Cummins

Item 1 of 8

Christian Pulisic

Premier League Stats

Age:
22

Position:
Attacking midfielder

Squad number:
10

Games:
48

Goals:
13

Assists:
5

Hit woodwork:
2

Headed goals:
2

Right-foot goals:
5

Left-foot goals:
6

Penalties scored:
0

Free-kicks scored:
0

Shots:
98

On target:
39

Shooting accuracy:
40%

Yellow cards:
2

Red cards:
0

Clubs:
Borussia Dortmund, Chelsea

International caps (USA):
36

International goals:
15

Club career appearances (all comps):
198

Club career goals (all comps):
36

There have been surprisingly few players or managers who have represented City and Chelsea...

But there have been some, so we’ll start with Tel Ben-Haim who spent one season with Chelsea in 2007-08 and another with City in 2008-09.

The Israeli failed to hold down a place at either club before moving on again.

Mark Hughes spent three successful years with Chelsea between 1995 and 1998 as a player.

He made 123 appearances and scored 39 goals and he spent 18 months as City manager between 2008 and 2009, leaving the Etihad with a 46.8% win ratio.

Crowd favourite Shaun Wright-Phillips graduated through City’s Academy to become an integral part of the City side of the early 2000s but left for Chelsea in 2005 after 181 appearances.

He spent three years in West London, making 125 appearances before re-joining City in 2008.

Perhaps the highest profile player to play for both was Chelsea legend Frank Lampard.

Lampard’s 13-year stay at Stamford Bridge saw him make an incredible 648 appearances, scoring 211 goals.

Though he agreed a non-binding commitment to play for New York City, he spent a season with City first in 2014/15, becoming a popular figure during his stay.

He then moved to New York and eventually returned to Chelsea as boss.

Wayne Bridge was a Chelsea player for six years before moving to City for a further four seasons – though much of that time was spent nursing injuries.

Nicolas Anelka spent three impressive years with City from 2002 to 2005 before the much-travelled striker eventually rocked up at Stamford Bridge.

His four-and-a-half years in West London was the longest he stayed with any of his many clubs.

David Rocastle is another ex-Arsenal star to play for both City and Chelsea.

‘Rocky’ was a hugely popular player during his all-too brief stay at City in 1993-94 and he left Maine Road for Stamford Bridge in 1994, staying for four years.

Scott Sinclair was on Chelsea’s books for five years but spent most of that time out on loan.

After leaving for a permanent move to Swansea in in 2010, he joined City in 2012 and stayed for three seasons, though made just 19 appearances.

George Weah was at the back end of a glittering career when he joined Chelsea and then City in the same season, making a combined total of 24 appearances and scoring nine goals.

Lastly, Daniel Sturridge left City for Stamford Bridge in 2009, staying for four seasons with Chelsea before moving on to Liverpool.

Here’s to bright blue skies… 

Looking forward to brighter skies and a future filled with adventure? So are we. When you’re ready to start flying again, book your well-deserved trip with Etihad Airways for flexibility, more choice and total peace of mind. 

We’re flying to more than 50 worldwide destinations and we’re introducing new measures to keep everyone safe, comfortable and protected when they travel. 

When you’re ready to start flying again, you’ll be safe in our hands. Because for us, your wellness will always be our main priority. 

Your wellness, our priority

We understand how important is for you and your family to feel safe and comfortable when you travel. That’s why we’ve launched Etihad Wellness to make sure we keep you protected. 

With a team of Wellness Ambassadors on hand 24/7, you’ll feel comfortable and cared for when you fly with us. 

We’ve introduced additional deep cleaning measures that focus on the surfaces that are touched most often. That includes our check-in counters, toilets, seats and entertainment screens, so you can feel comfortable knowing that we disinfect every touchpoint of your journey more regularly.

All of our aircraft are deep cleaned at every destination, and our HEPA filters on board remove 99% of microbes in the air – because cleaner air means cleaner cabins. 

And we’re the only airline in the world to make COVID-19 PCR testing mandatory before every flight, and all of our crew and pilots on board have been vaccinated against COVID-19. You’ll feel safe when you fly with us.

Visit etihad.com/wellness to discover more.

We’re here for you 24/7

Our Wellness Ambassadors are available 24/7, so you can rest assured there’ll always be someone available to help. Chat to our Wellness Ambassadors online, meet them at the airport or speak to them on board. 

Freedom to fly when you’re ready

Sometimes, plans change. And that’s ok.

If you’d prefer to travel at a different time, you can change your flight for free. Simple.

Our mascot for today...

Name: Shaikha

Age: 7

Hometown: Abu Dhabi

Favourite player: Kevin De Bruyne

Favourite city game: When City scored 5 goals against Liverpool and her dad was at the game and she spotted him on TV!

Favourite City moment: When we won four cups in 2019

Hobby: Arts and Craft

Interesting info: Very attentive and tech savvy!

MARC'S NEW Q&A SERIES FOR BLUES
FROM ALL WALKS OF LIFE

For this grilling I’ve turned to a fellow Sale resident, Neil Swift. Naturally another Big Blue. I’ve had the pleasure of drinking responsibly with Neil on many occasions, often in the company of our mutual friend Peter Barnes who I hope will feature in a future instalment of this feature.

Away you go Swifty!

What's your earliest match memory? 
Standing on cinders with Dad at the old Scoreboard End at Maine Road aged 8 or 9. 

The most peculiar event that has happened at a match?
Going to Rodney Marsh’s debut v Chelsea (18/3/1972) with my dad and younger brother - we queued outside Platt Lane at separate turnstiles - Dad got in and we didn't! - the PA system called us in after dad reported the situation to officials.

Match that you hoped had never taken place?
12/11/1975 - v Man Utd during which King Colin was badly tackled by Martin Buchan and sadly never properly recovered.

Your least favourite opponents? 
Liverpool FC, folk of my age can count on one hand the occasions when we actually beat them, home or away.

What's your favourite crowd chant? 
Perhaps a less known one from my teenage years when my voice hadn't broken - sung to an operatic aria theme.
'Aye, aye, aye, aye...Corrigan's better than Yashin - and Tueart is better than Eusebio and United are in for a thrashing’.

Most memorable City goal? 
Steve Mackenzie v Spurs in FA Cup Final 1981 - worthy of winning any cup final, but sadly didn't!

Have you ever met any of your heroes? 
Yes, for many years I have been privileged to share trips and events with Man City veterans and former players through my long time friendship with Peter Barnes, culminating on a couple of occasions with actually donning the shirt and playing alongside them in charity matches. I have been the proverbial 'kid in a sweetshop' on more occasions than I can care to remember, highlights must include Ken Barnes, Bert Trautmann, Colin Bell, Asa Hartford and Peter of course.

Who would you invite round for tea and biscuits?
Mario Balotelli, just to see if I could get a firmer handle on what makes this man tick - and to see if he had proper table manners!

Have you ever shed tears at a game?
Play off final v Gillingham 1999 - amongst best friends and my partner at the time who was carrying my first born - his first City match and one that he will find hard to beat!

Who do you think would win in an arm wrestling match - Yaya Toure or Kyle Walker?
Kyle Walker.

Who'd you have on your quiz team? 
KDB - all round genius specialising in maths as evidenced by his geometric passing precision!