Manchester City will look to extend their advantage at the summit of the Premier League when they welcome challengers Chelsea to the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

It may be a case of first versus second in the top flight this weekend, but Manchester City’s lead at the top of the standings is already a sizeable 10 points as they host Chelsea in the Premier League.

Chelsea can trim that deficit with victory but defeat for the Blues in Manchester will almost certainly put them too far back to be in true contention for the Premier League title.

Manchester City not only have the points advantage, but also the benefit of greater rest time between games than their opponents.

Chelsea were in Carabao Cup action on Wednesday night – a competition Guardiola’s side have had an iron grip on in recent seasons – whilst City have had 8 days between matches with their last outing a trip to League Two Swindon Town in the 3rd Round of the FA Cup.

Thomas Tuchel’s Blues booked their spot at Wembley after beating Spurs in that midweek cup clash, so spirits will be high, but that could all come crashing down should they be beaten by Manchester City.

It was the Manchester club who were victorious when these two sides last met in September, with Gabriel Jesus bagging the winner – remarkably it remains his last goal in the Premier League having not scored in 11 appearances.

Romelu Lukaku has also had his critics when it comes to scoring in big games and after some recent negative press, the one-time Man City target will no doubt be chomping at the bit to silence those critics on Saturday.

City boss Guardiola does have coronavirus issues to contend with in his squad, with Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden and Oleksandr Zinchenko all doubtful due to Covid-19.

John Stones is rated 50-50 to feature as he currently nurses a knock, whilst Riyad Mahrez is on international duty with Algeria at the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.

For Chelsea, goalkeeper Edouard Mendy is also taking part in Afcon with Senegal, although he has also contracted coronavirus and so would have been ineligible anyway – Kepa Arrizabalaga is expected to start.

It is at the back where Thomas Tuchel has his biggest issues, with Reece James, Ben Chilwell, Trevoh Chalobah and Andreas Christensen all absent with injury or illness.

With fellow challengers Liverpool also weakened due to absentees in the squad, Manchester City know that with fixtures against Southampton, Brentford and Norwich to come they can engineer an even greater lead at the top of the Premier League table.

Beating Chelsea will not only put further distance between themselves and Liverpool, but also make Chelsea’s title charge significantly weaker. For Thomas Tuchel, it feels like this is the biggest game of the season for his side, with an element of ‘do-or-die’ about it which should lead to a fascinating encounter at the Eithad.

Manchester City v Chelsea is a 12.30pm kick off on Saturday 15th January 2022.

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ScoopDragon Football News Network

About the author

Niall McCaughan

Broadcast Journalist
Sport Social's Broadcast Journalist. Host of the Football Social Daily podcast. Football Commentator for Manchester United, Leicester City and more. Big Pompey fan.
Follow @niallpfc on Twitter

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