George Pitts is predicting an action-packed showdown between Chelsea and Manchester City on Saturday evening.
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Chelsea v Manchester City (1730 GMT, BT Sport 1)
The eye-catching clash of the weekend, a match which a month ago would have been between title contenders, now not so much.
Chelsea started the season unbeaten under Maurizio Sarri and as dark horses for a title charge, but two defeats in their last three games have brought a reality check to Stamford Bridge, a reminder that the Italian's jigsaw still requires a few more pieces.
Visitors City, on the other hand, genuinely look like they could go unbeaten for the season. Only Wolves and Liverpool have held them to draws this term and Pep Guardiola's men look set for more records this term after passing a century of points in 2017/18.
Liverpool look like their only real contenders (written before their match with Bournemouth, of course), and if Chelsea are to change that they need to close the gap with victory here, one which currently stands at 10 points.
These sides met in the Community Shield at the start of the season, City winning 2-0, while Guardiola's side did a 1-0 double over the west Londoners in the Premier League last term.
Both are of course quality sides with world-class managers who have immense attention to detail, and it could be a cracker of a match even if there is always the risk that they cancel each other out somewhat.
Prediction: Chelsea 1-2 Man City (Sky Bet odds: 15/2)
Such a tough match to call being at Stamford Bridge and, with Liverpool on their coat tails, City cannot afford to drop points so Guardiola will be demanding a high octane performance from his men. It should be a game of high quality, but City have the craft to open up the Chelsea defence and further underline their outstanding title credentials. Sergio Aguero could be absent, but that should be no problem for the visitors. A best price of evens for City to win looks very fair.
Best bet: Over 10.5 total corners at 11/10
The preference, however, is to avoid the result and over 10.5 corners at above evens could be the way to go. City are by far the league's highest corner takers, averaging around seven per game, while Chelsea average just above five. Odds-against about a make-up of 11 or more looks a good bet.
Goals: Eden Hazard 2+ shots and Gabriel Jesus 4+ shots at 9/4
With Aguero a possible absentee, Gabriel Jesus could start for a third successive game and the Brazilian will be keen to reward his manager with an overdue goal - he has had seven shots in his last two appearances so it may be coming. Eden Hazard is Chelsea's main man, and he attempted five shots in the midweek loss at Wolves. Expect both to be heavily involved and remember it doesn't matter whether they hit the target or not with this bet.
RequestABet: Over 10.5 total corners and 20+ booking points each team and a goal in both halves at 11/2
Tackles can go flying in during these fixtures and Michael Oliver could be in for a busy afternoon with at least two bookings for each team a realistic ask.
Opta facts and statistics
- Chelsea have lost two of their last three home Premier League games against Man City (W1), having lost just two of their first 18 against them in the competition (W11 D5 L2).
- Manchester City haven’t won consecutive top-flight visits against Chelsea since January 1955.
- Manchester City have never won four consecutive matches against Chelsea in all competitions – this is the 161st meeting between the teams.
- Chelsea had just seven shots against Man City across their two Premier League meetings last season – only Leicester vs Man City (4) and Huddersfield vs Liverpool (6) had fewer against an opponent last season.
- The reigning top-flight champions haven’t won at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea in the Premier League since April 2002, when Man Utd won 3-0; the Blues have won five and drawn six of 11 matches since then.
- This will be the fifth time Chelsea have faced Man City in the Premier League with the Citizens top of the table – Chelsea won the first two (December 2011 and December 2016), while Man City won both last season.
- Manchester City are unbeaten in their last 14 away Premier League games (W11 D3) – they’ve never gone 15 without defeat on the road in the top-flight before.
- Maurizio Sarri hasn’t lost two successive league games as a manager since October 2016, when Napoli lost in Italy’s Serie A against Atalanta & Roma.
- Only Robin van Persie (6) has scored more away Premier League goals at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea than Manchester City’s Sergio Agüero (5).
- Man City boss Pep Guardiola failed to win any of his first seven matches against Chelsea in all competitions (D4 L3) but has since won each of his last three against them.
- Man City’s Leroy Sane hasn’t failed to score or assist a goal in any of his eight Premier League starts this season, with the German scoring six and assisting five.
Odds correct as of 1255 GMT on 07/12/18