Manchester City’s week of blockbuster games culminates with Chelsea’s arrival at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The reverse 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.
Kevin De Bruyne was the standout performer last time and as we prepare to lock horns with Antonio Conte’s men again, we take a look at who’ll need to be at their best for the Blues.
Kevin De Bruyne v Ngolo Kante
De Bruyne was imperious at Stamford Bridge and Conte will be determined to nullify his threat this time.
Kante’s style may be more roving ball-winner than man-marker, but with his tireless running he’ll hope to pop up and disrupt City’s playmaker in the areas he loves to exploit.
The diminutive Frenchman certainly has the tools to do just that, but such is De Bruyne’s form this season, it’s proved to be easier said than done.
It promises to be an intriguing match-up of the Premier League’s leading attacking midfielder against a man many would bestow the same honour on defensively.
Kyle Walker v Eden Hazard
Antonio Conte has called for patience with Alvaro Morata, which suggests he may lead Chelsea’s line at the Etihad and Hazard should therefore revert to the left side of the visitor’s front three.
Undoubtedly their main attacking threat and one of the best players in the Premier League, he’ll encounter one of his sternest tests in Walker.
Such is the Belgian’s style of play, 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.
One of the most important duels, if Walker can keep Hazard quiet, you would expect the home side to enjoy a relatively easier afternoon defensively.
Bernardo Silva v Marcos Alonso
Though Raheem Sterling is nearing a return, Thursday’s goal scoring performance might see Bernardo get the nod on the right of City’s attacking trident.
The Portugal man has steadily grown in stature in the Premier League and that lethal combination of work rate, trickery and an eye for a killer pass make him a problem for any full-back.
He’ll need all three to occupy Alonso, who’ll adopt his usual wing-back role on Sunday.
With his power and exquisite delivery, the Spaniard is quite the threat going forward so Bernardo will have to be mindful of his defensive duties, whilst also knowing there will be space to exploit in the final third.
Danilo v Willian
The battle of the Brazilians.
And two that are in good form.
Danilo impressed in both games against Arsenal, but particularly in the Carabao Cup final, while Willian has been Chelsea’s most eye-catching performer of late, with goals against Barcelona and Manchester United.
City, you would assume, will enjoy the lion’s share of possession, which should naturally reduce the attacking midfielder’s menace, but Danilo will need to be mindful of his threat on the counter.
At their best, Chelsea move from defence to attack effortlessly and Willian is central to this.