City host Chelsea in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon. We analyse six topics for discussion...
1 One step closer...?
Ten games remaining; five victories to go… Premier League glory is in sight.
Unfamiliar territory for us, considering our previous title wins have gone down to the wire! Hopefully, even the most pessimistic of City fans are not fearing a bout of ‘Cityitis’…
Still, focus is key. Pep Guardiola asserted the significance of his side’s mental strength as we enter ‘the business end of the season’ and clichéd as the phrase is, taking one game at a time to clinch early success, could prove crucial, if we are to progress to the latter stages of the Champions League.
2 A week to remember?
Victory on Sunday would cap a superb week for the Blues, following Sunday’s Carabao Cup Final triumph and Thursday night’s impressive win at the Emirates Stadium.
City should be full of confidence, while Chelsea have endured a dip in form during what has proved to be a disappointing campaign for Antonio Conte’s reigning champions.
Our outstanding victory at Stamford Bridge, courtesy of Kevin De Bruyne’s sensational strike, issued a statement of intent for our title credentials, extending our remarkable winning run and shifting the proverbial City steam train up a gear or two.
We have only completed a Premier League double over the Londoners twice before though - in the 2009/10 and 2015/16 seasons. Although Chelsea won at the Etihad Stadium on their last visit, they haven’t claimed successive victories here since their run of four wins between 2005 and 2008.
3 Belgian Blues
A mouth-watering sub-plot to Sunday’s encounter sees two Premier League greats lock horns in De Bruyne and compatriot Eden Hazard.
The pair have been in exceptional form throughout the campaign and both are known to deliver on the big stage when the pressure is on.
With four goals and four assists, Hazard has had a hand in eight goals in his last seven games against City in all competitions.
Chelsea of course boast an array of talent, including another dangerman, who we’ll need keep an eye on in the in-form Willian.
Sergio Aguero is tantalisingly close to writing his name into the City history books once again by netting his 200th goal for the Club.
Already the Blues’ all-time record scorer, Kun needs just one more goal to hit the milestone and will surely be fired up to do so on home soil.
The Argentine ace has bagged five in his last four Premier League Premier League games against Chelsea, including a hat-trick in April 2016.
5 Home comforts
City’s last 13 league games have heralded at least two goals for the Blues. Should we achieve that feat again on Sunday, we will match Liverpool’s 2013/14 record of scoring more than once in consecutive home games.
6 Team tinkering?
Guardiola told press Kyle Walker should be fit to play, after he was substituted with a calf injury in North London, but Fabian Delph is still unavailable due to suspension. Benjamin Mendy remains a long-term absentee.
With less than three full days between Thursday night’s win and this game, will Guardiola stick with the same starting XI? Will Vincent Kompany make his third appearance in a week or will John Stones or January recruit Aymeric Laporte be recalled? Plus, will Ilkay Gundogan occupy Fernandinho’s role once again? We’ll find out come 3pm Sunday afternoon.
For Chelsea, Tiemoue Bakayoko, David Luiz and Ethan Ampadu are all out injured but Ross Barkley will travel, after the midfielder recovered from a hamstring injury.