Chelsea’s 5-0 win over Huddersfield last weekend was just the tonic to recover from a run of bad form in the Premier League that had people questioning both Maurizio Sarri’s future,and their chances of finishing in the top four.
The Blues have risen to fourth in the table, thanks to Manchester City’s win at home over Arsenal last weekend, but they now face the same trip to the Etihad Stadium as the competition reaches the business end.
Sarri will be going up against his friend Pep Guardiola on Sunday, but he can expect no favours, with the Premier League champions aiming to retain the title and see off their main challengers Liverpool.
Chelsea are in good shape ahead of their trip to Manchester and had only left out Antonio Rudiger for last week’s victory against bottom-of-the-table Huddersfield.
Rudiger had a problem with his knee, but he will likely return for Sunday, with Andreas Christensen having taken his place against Huddersfield. Chelsea are thought to have no other injuries, and new signing Gonzalo Higuain will have another week to train with his team-mates.
Gary Cahill and Davide Zappacosta were missing for most of January due to speculation over their future but could be reintroduced now the transfer window has closed. Sarri spoke about his team’s fitness levels ahead of Sunday’s match.
“We had only some little problems, with Hudson-Odoi,” He said at Cobham Training Centre. “He had fever, but only for one day. Yesterday we had a little problem with [Gary] Cahill, with his back.
“I think every player will be available for this match. I hope so. I don’t know. We have to do another two trainings.”
Neither Chelsea nor Man City have any suspensions to contend with ahead of Sunday’s match.
Chelsea Potential Starting Line-Up
Chelsea will continue to play what Sarri considers their strongest team as he strives for consistency after his side failed to reach their best form over the winter period.
Emerson Palmieri seems to be competing with Marcos Alonso after earning a few high-profile starts ahead of the Spain international. However, Alonso returned in the win over Huddersfield.
Willian and Pedro are fighting for a spot, with Higuain and Eden Hazard seemingly the main two options in attack. Mateo Kovacic could be preferred to Ross Barkley and Ruben Loftus-Cheek in midfield, due to his defensive attributes and experience in big games.
Sarri’s team selections have been broadly predictable otherwise, as they line up in a 4-3-3, with N’Golo Kante, Cesar Azpilicueta and Kepa Arrizabalaga having started every league match. Alonso, Jorginho and Rudiger have started all but one of their side’s league games.
Man City Team News
Benjamin Mendy is nearing a return for Man City, but he is unlikely to be thrown into such a big game, without having built up his fitness against lesser opposition.
Vincent Kompany is a doubt with a knock, as he strives to overcome a series of injury setbacks throughout his career. Claudio Bravo has been out all season with an Achilles problem.
TV channel & kick-off time
The match at the City of Manchester Stadium kicks off at 4:00pm GMT (11:00am ET) on Sunday and it will be shown on SkySports in the UK. In the US, the game is available on NBC Sports.
Best Opta Match Facts
Man City have lost three of their last five Premier League matches against Chelsea (W2), scoring just four goals and never more than once in this run.
Chelsea are winless in their last six Premier League away games against ‘big six’ opposition (D2 L4), losing the last four in a row.
Manchester City have scored at least twice in each of their last 14 Premier League home games, winning 13 of those (L1). If they score twice here, they’ll set a new competition record for scoring more than once in consecutive home games.
Chelsea are unbeaten in seven league games against reigning Premier League champions (W4 D3), winning each of the last three in a row. Only two teams have ever won four consecutive games against reigning champions – Liverpool (4 between 2000 and 2002) and Manchester City (6 between 2011 and 2016).
Man City boss Pep Guardiola has lost more league games against Chelsea than he has versus any other team in his managerial career (3).