Mens Team

Chelsea v City: Key battles

Manchester City will be looking for more capital gains on Saturday when we travel to Chelsea for a crucial Premier League encounter (5.30pm).

Last season’s fixture saw Pep Guardiola’s men produce one of the best performances of the season at Stamford Bridge in September and a repeat result against a Chelsea side which has faltered of late, would cap a fine seven days.

As we prepare to lock horns with Maurizio Sarri’s men, we take a look at some of the crucial match-ups which could prove pivotal at Stamford Bridge.

Kyle Walker v Eden Hazard

England right-back Walker has again been a key performer for City this season with his strength and physicality helping provide inner steel to the Blues back-line.

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Allied to that, Walker’s prodigious pace and pin-point crossing ability have helped add an extra dimension to City’s potent attacking options.

However, Walker will need to be at his best on Saturday. Such is Hazard’s ability and versatility, the entire City back line will need to be wary of him, but he often thrives cutting in from the left so much of the responsibility should fall to City’s No.2.

The match-up between the two is likely to be one of Saturday's most important duels. If Walker can keep Hazard quiet, it would help negate one of Chelsea’s key attacking threats.

Fernandinho v Jorginho

The fight for supremacy between the two holding midfielders could go a long way to determining the outcome of the game.

Fernandinho has once again been a model of consistency at the heart of the City midfield this season, operating as a formidable shield in front of the Blues defence as well as seeking to get forward at every opportunity.

Though he may not feature in as many individual headlines as some of his colleagues, the Brazilian’s importance to the City team is more than appreciated inside the Blues dressing room – not least by manager Pep Guardiola.

In Italian international Jorginho, he will face a player who was very much on the Blues’ radar over the summer.

The former Napoli man has made a fine start to life in England, so much so that he has displaced N’Golo Kante in becoming Chelsea’s key holding midfielder.

Jorginho was one of the main factors behind Chelsea’s fine start to the campaign and if City can nullify his impact it could prove crucial in determining the outcome. 

Raheem Sterling v Marcos Alonso

Raheem Sterling continues to go from strength to strength and is enjoying his finest season yet for City.

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Sterling is the Premier League’s joint leading English scorer, his eight goals matching Harry Kane, and he is also joint top in the assists table.

And City manager Pep Guardiola believes there is even more to come from the 23-year-old such is his vast potential.

However, as much as his forward prowess, Sterling will also need to keep a careful watching brief on Alonso, who looks likely to adopt his usual wing-back role on Saturday.

With his power and exquisite delivery, the Spaniard is quite the threat going forward so Sterling will also have to be mindful of his defensive duties, whilst also knowing there will be space to exploit in the final third.

Aymeric Laporte v Alvaro Morata/Oliver Giroud

French central defender Aymeric Laporte has been in imperious form for City so far this season, catching the eye with both his assured displays at the heart of the Blues’ defence and his quality on the ball thanks to his superb passing range and comfort in possession.

Given the fierce competition for places in the City squad, it speaks volumes for his displays that Laporte has started all but one of City’s 15 league games to date.

After sitting out our midweek win at Watford, he could well be an important figure at Stamford Bridge.

Whether it is Spanish striker Morata or French World Cup winner Giroud who is entrusted with spearheading the Chelsea attack on Saturday remains to be seen.

Morata got the starting nod in Chelsea’s 2-1 defeat at Wolves in midweek but Sarri also has the option of deploying the more physical attributes of Giroud, who also carries a potent threat in the air.

Either way, the pair’s qualities ensure that Laporte will need to focus for the full 90 minutes come Saturday tea-time.

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