Manchester City are set to play their first away game after the restart as they travel to Stamford Bridge in Gameweek 31 of the Premier League. Having won the previous two games by an aggregate score of 8-0, the Premier League champions would be riding high on confidence, while Chelsea would take heart from their impressive comeback at Villa Park after going 1-0 down deep into the first half.
City currently sit 20 points behind league leaders, with Liverpool due to play later tonight. A win for them and anything less than 3 points for City tomorrow would crown them the English champions and would earn them a guard of honour at the Etihad next week.
With Laporte and De Bruyne both fully fit and expected to start, something that has been a rare sight since the start of last season, City would be looking to maintain complete dominance over the course of 90 minutes.
Pep would be aware of the fact that Chelsea are only behind City in terms of creating chances this season, and thus keeping possession in central areas would be high on his priority list. That being said, Chelsea forwards haven’t quite made good use of those chances and have massively underperformed on xG so ensuring they have less space to work with in the final third, something that led to Chelsea’s first goal the last time these 2 met, would be something Laporte would be entrusted upon
On the other end of the pitch, Chelsea have conceded a whopping 40 goals, largely due to their goalkeeper’s inconsistencies. City would be better off testing Kepa as much as possible, something that Aguero will be missed deeply for.
Pep Guardiola: “We’ll find out tomorrow after he (Aguero) has seen the specialist how bad the injury is, we will know more tomorrow. Our concern is not whether Gabriel is good enough; it’s playing every 3 days. Sterling, Gundogan & Bernardo can play there.”
Frank Lampard: “Every young player is different depending on themselves, their situation and their manager. Even our young players, some come in depending on their position. I would never speculate about how Pep does his job but the talent of Foden is there to see.”
RECORD AT THE BRIDGE
Stamford Bridge hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for the blues and along with Anfield, has proven to be one of the toughest places to get 3 points in. City have played Chelsea 22 times at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League, winning only 4 times while losing on as many as 13 occasions. Under Pep, the Cityzens have lost twice in their 3 visits there, winning only once courtesy of THAT strike by Kevin De Bruyne.
However, it must be noted that Chelsea haven’t quite looked as dominant as they’d have liked at home this season, losing to the likes of West Ham, Bournemouth, Southampton and Manchester United.
Manchester City: John Stones and Claudio Bravo have been declared fit and back in training by Pep. Eric Garcia is still unavailable under concussion protocols while Sergio Aguero has been ruled out for 5-6 weeks following meniscus damage on his left knee.
Chelsea: Frank Lampard has more or less a fully fit squad, with Callum Hudson-Odoi and Fikayo Tomori being the only injury concerns.
Pep would look to field his strongest XI this game having rested several key players against Burnley. However, he did mention he has one eye on the Newcastle fixture in the FA Cup this weekend.
4-3-3: Ederson; Walker, Fernandinho, Laporte, Mendy; De Bruyne, Gundogan, Bernardo; Mahrez, Jesus, Sterling.
Subs: Bravo, Cancelo, Stones, Otamendi, Zinchenko, Rodri, Foden, Silva, Sané
Referee: Stuart Atwell
Fourth Official: Kevin Friend
VAR: Craig Pawson
Date: Friday, 26 June
Kick Off: 12.45 AM IST
TV: Star Sports 1 & HD, Select 1 & HD, Select 2 & HD