Two title contenders clash at Stamford Bridge on Saturday afternoon, as Chelsea welcome Man City with Thomas Tuchel's 100% record on the line
The Premier League kicks off this weekend with an absolute blockbuster at Stamford Bridge, as Chelsea welcome Manchester City to London looking to extend their winning streak over the Premier League champions.
Since Thomas Tuchel took over at the Bridge, the German has got the better of Pep Guardiola on all three occasions, including an FA Cup semi-final and a Champions League final. The Blues have also made a stellar start to Tuchel’s first full season in charge, and they sit top of the table on 13 points after five games, with City three points adrift.
Both sides made moves for strikers in the summer, albeit to varying degrees of success. Chelsea signed Romelu Lukaku for almost £100m and are reaping the rewards of a genuine goal scorer up front, while Man City couldn’t get the deal for Harry Kane completed, but haven’t struggled for goals in the league. They’ve racked up 11 in their first five games, with Ferran Torres looking promising in a centre forward role.
He’ll have his work cut out against Chelsea’s back three though, seeing as they’ve only conceded one goal in the league so far this season, Mo Salah’s penalty just under a month ago.
Lukaku was criticised during his time at Manchester United and Everton for his scoring record against so-called top six sides, so he’ll be relishing the chance to silence some more haters if he can get on the scoresheet this weekend.
Another of the reasons why Chelsea have been so stingy in defence is the form of Edouard Mendy, who has looked superb since replacing Kepa Arrizabalaga a year ago. The Senegal international has missed the last two games with a groin injury, meaning the Spaniard is on standby should he not pass a fitness test.
Christian Pulisic is the only other injury concern, as the American continues to struggle with an ankle problem. He has an outside chance of returning, but the likes of Mason Mount, Kai Havertz, Timo Werner, and Hakim Ziyech all being fit make his absence slightly more manageable.
Things are slightly more serious for Guardiola and City however, with up to six first-team players struggling with problems. Benjamin Mendy is still in custody, John Stones is injured after England duty, and Aymeric Laporte isn’t expected to play after suffering a groin problem and missing the draw with Southampton.
Rodri and Oleksandr Zinchenko are also major doubts with knocks, and Ilkay Gundogan isn’t fully fit but could make the squad with a similar ailment. Kevin De Bruyne played in the Carabao Cup in midweek and is expected to start, with Nathan Ake continuing alongside Ruben Dias at the back. City’s teenage defence that played in the win over Wycombe in midweek are all on standby, with one or two making the bench potentially.
It’s hard to label this one as a crucial moment in the title race this season, but with Tuchel’s record against Guardiola’s City currently dominating pre-match headlines, a win for Chelsea would almost certainly cement them as title favourites after the opening six games. A win for City with this many injury problems could be just the reminder for everyone that they’re not to be shifted from their perch easily.
Chelsea take on Manchester City at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, September 25th. Kick-off is at 12.30pm.