The Catalan revealed his side had been affected by fresh COVID-19 cases ahead of the game, but with several players returning, he is able to include 16 recognised first teamers in the matchday squad.
Ederson, John Stones, Phil Foden, Jack Grealish and Raheem Sterling all come into the side after missing the FA Cup win over Swindon Town, whilst Aymeric Laporte is restored to the starting line-up having been an unused substitute against the Robins.
Zack Steffen, Ruben Dias, Ilkay Gundogan and Gabriel Jesus drop to the bench, but Nathan Ake and Cole Palmer are short of full fitness and miss out entirely, as does Oleksandr Zinchenko, who has picked up an injury.
CHELSEA: Kepa, Azpilicueta (c), Thiago Silva, Rudiger, Sarr, Alonso, Kante, Kovacic, Ziyech, Pulisic; Lukaku.
SUBS: Bettinelli, Barkley, Hudson-Odoi, Jorginho, Loftus-Cheek, Mount, Saul, Havertz, Werner.
The players selected suggest City will line up in Guardiola's favoured 4-3-3 formation.
Which of that trio plays through the middle remains to be seen, with all three having been deployed in that role at times this season.
Turning the table
City were three points and four places adrift of Chelsea at the top of the league when we went and won in impressive fashion at Stamford Bridge in September, but the Premier League landscape looks markedly different ahead of this, the 50th meeting in the competition between the two sides.
The defending champions go into the game on the back of an 11-match winning streak, whilst Tuchel’s men have dropped points on seven occasions in the same period to turn a five-point lead into 10-point deficit.
The Chelsea boss declared City ‘the benchmark’ in England at his pre-match press conference and, whilst there are plenty of games left to play, a win for Guardiola’s side would certainly dent the German’s hopes of catching a team he believes are the best in the country right now.
And for, City, a victory over the second placed European champions, would provide a significant confidence boost in our bid to win a fourth title in five years.
Stats and facts
- This is the 50th Premier League meeting between the sides. We only managed three victories in the first 25 encounters but have since won 12 of 24.
- This is just the second time we have met as the top two teams in the Premier League. The other came in January 2015, with second-placed City earning a 1-1 draw at league leaders Chelsea.
- City have won 11 consecutive Premier League matches. Only Preston in 1891-92 and Liverpool in 2013-14 have won 11 or more games in succession and not gone on to win the top-flight title.
- Guardiola has lost eight matches as a manager against Chelsea, more than against any other club.
- Chelsea have dropped points in seven of their past 11 league games, turning a five-point lead over Manchester City into a 10-point deficit.
- Chelsea's win at the Etihad last season is Thomas Tuchel's only victory in six career league meetings against Pep Guardiola.