Stamford Bridge is finally opening the gates back up, after a long-awaited return to the Pride of London. Despite the anticipation of the return to the Bridge, it is however only open for players, staff and stewards until further notice. The Blues welcome a dominant Manchester City side to the Bridge, with a lot more than 3 points on the line. Guardiola’s side have netted 8 times in their past 2 games, with Chelsea scoring twice in their victory over Aston Villa on Sunday. City have looked deadly since the restart, and have sailed past Arsenal and Burnley with ease. A City win on Thursday means Liverpool can not win the league, yet. Anything but a win for the Manchester side means Liverpool will be crowned victorious after a 30-year wait for glory.
Chelsea currently sit in 4th place and following Man United’s victory over Sheffield United on Wednesday, are just 2 points ahead of the Red Devils. This puts The Blues in a worrying position as their game in hand happens to be against the reigning champions. City are second, and should they win, will stay a comfortable distance from Leicester, with the Foxes dropping 4 points in their last 2 games. Chelsea will hope to capitalise on this poor run of form for the Foxes, but the task of defeating City is a lot easier said than done.
As mentioned before, anything but a Man City victory will guarantee Liverpool are this season’s winners. The Reds made light work of Crystal Palace on Wednesday, hitting the Eagles for four. It will, however, be interesting to see how both sides line up, with the FA Cup Quarter Finals taking place at the weekend, and this late in the season neither manager can afford unnecessary injuries. Frank Lampard has confirmed there will be absences of both Fikayo Tomori and Callum Hudson-Odoi, so with that news coming yesterday, this is how I would line up:
Kepa, Azpilicueta, Christensen, Zouma, James, Kovacic, Kante, Alonso, Mount, Abraham, Pulisic.
The 3-4-3 formation is better suited against a City side who are known for their attacking prowess, and due to the clumsiness of our centre-halves on Sunday, an alteration may be required.
In his press conference, Lampard stated that it is not his ambition to be able to make as many team changes game-to-game as Man City are at the moment, but he hoped to be able to slot players into the team when required. The Boss also mentioned that we are only 4 points behind Leicester now, but emphasised how we still have tough games to come. City were victorious in the reverse fixture, beating the Blues 2-1, thanks to former Blue Kevin De Bruyne, and Riyad Mahrez, with Kante netting for the Blues.
Players to watch:
Christian Pulisic: Pulisic changed the game on Sunday the second he entered the pitch. His impactful runs, his movement and speed made it almost impossible for Ezri Konsa to stick with him. ‘Captain America’ ignited the fire of Chelsea’s comeback when he found himself on the end of a picture-perfect cross from Azpilicueta. Should he start on Thursday, his speedy runs and his low centre of gravity will cause trouble for the weakened City defence, and with a major point to prove, keep your eye on Christian Pulisic.
Phil Foden: The City youngster, nicknamed The Stockport Iniesta has had an astounding restart to the season, netting 3 times in the last 2 games. Foden has a major point to prove, with the European Championships taking place next summer, and the youngster will want to do everything in his power to grab himself a seat on the plane. Foden can shine on the big stage and will look to make the headlines yet again, and a win against Chelsea will certainly do so.
Leroy Sane vs Reece James.
Following Guardiola’s recent statement that his main focus is on Newcastle at the weekend, it is unlikely we will see City’s strongest side on Thursday. Following a very lengthy injury that kept him on the sidelines for months, Sane will want to slowly increase his game time in order to reach full fitness. Should Sane start on the left, he will most likely be up against Chelsea’s very own Hulk in Reece James. Sane vs Reece is a showdown that I think can interest everyone and anyone, with Sane’s lightning-quick runs and James’ sturdy defensive skills, this battle is sure to impress.
Written by Mash Greaves.