Chelsea beat table-toppers Tottenham Hotspur 4-1 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London last Monday, Nov. 6, to earn a surprise victory and also ensure that Manchester City become the table-toppers.
However, Tottenham’s being restricted to nine men helped Chelsea’s performance considerably, as Cristian Romero and Destiny Udogie saw red cards. Still, Ange Postecoglou’s tactic of playing with a high line even after being two men down contributed to their downfall.
Chelsea will face an even tougher opposition in Manchester City on Sunday
While their match against Tottenham was a difficult one, the next one in the line for Chelsea is Manchester City, who are probably the most formidable team in Europe. The Blues will face Pep Guardiola’s team on Sunday and will be desperate to earn at least a point from it.
Chelsea are 10th in the league table with 15 points from 11 matches, which is 12 less than City’s tally. The Cityzens pumped six past a hapless Bournemouth in their last Premier League match and then scored three against Young Boys in UEFA Champions League.
In such a scenario, Chelsea will be wary of their upcoming opponents quite understandably. However, the Blues have some good players themselves and might also be able to halt City’s progress.
Chelsea could prove to be dangerous from counter-attacks
Guardiola might not be naïve enough to allow Chelsea the luxury that was given to them by Tottenham by playing a high line. However, the Cityzens will dominate possession in all probability and should attack in numbers for a considerable period of time.
Hence, the roles of Raheem Sterling and Cole Palmer, both former Manchester City players, become very important in this regard. Chelsea will rely on the two aforementioned players to gain control of the ball inside the opposition’s half during quick transactions.
Either of Sterling and Palmer might end up in a position to play the final pass to Nicolas Jackson, who scored a hat-trick against a depleted Spurs. However, City’s defence is arguably the meanest in the league and the likes of Ruben Dias, Manuel Akanji, Josko Gvardiol and Kyle Walker will not be willing to allow much breathing space to the Chelsea forwards.
Chelsea defenders will have their hands full
However, scoring a goal against City will not be the first thing in Mauricio Pochettino’s mind. His team should try to prevent the marauding Cityzens from scoring first and then only think of sneaking out a win.
Keeping a clean sheet against City is not going to be easy, especially given that Thiago Silva, the leader of Chelsea’s defence, is one of the oldest players in the Premier League at 39. Both Moises Caicedo and Enzo Fernandez will have to play key roles in containing City’s attack and shielding their team’s defence.
Fernandez, especially, will have to curb his attacking instincts somewhat to concentrate more on defending.
Chelsea will have to absorb a lot of pressure by defending deep and hence, their defensive midfielders will have to be focused on making key challenges.