Heading into Round 22 of this season’s Premier League this weekend, leaders City welcome second-place Chelsea to the Etihad. City, who currently sit 10 points adrift at the top of the table, look to claim a 12th straight win in the Premier League whilst challengers Chelsea, hope to kick-start a resurgence that will deny City from successive Premier League titles.Embed from Getty Images
For Pep and his men, Saturday’s task is plain and simple, another routine win in the Premier League and they will all but secure a successive Premier League title, even with 16 rounds to go. For Chelsea, however, their task is far easier said than done; inflict a second home defeat on last year’s Champions, and hope that this will deny The Sky Blues and reignite their title hopes.
Not only does a result on Saturday appear very unlikely for Chelsea but, as recent form, performance and history would suggest, to completely close the gap on rivals City and deny them of a consecutive title seems nigh-on-impossible, especially if the future of striker Romelu Lukaku is still in the air.
Chelsea’s performances in the league have not been mediocre by any means. Their impressive start to the season excited a lot of football, particularly Chelsea fans, that this year was going to be hotly contested and City weren’t just going to run away with yet another title. In fact, after 12 rounds, they sat 3 points clear of rivals City, having scored 30 and only conceded 4 goals.
However, it is their performance of late and their ability to secure all three points, which is cause for concern. During a period that has seen rivals Manchester City go undefeated; Chelsea have only managed to win three of their last 9 league games, losing 1 and drawing the other five. A decline in both attack and defence proficiency, where they have only scored 15 and conceded 12, has resulted in an emphatic thirteen-point overhaul by rivals City
It is the deterioration of their defensive prowess, in particular, that has led to growing doubts that Tuchel’s side can in fact re-establish themselves as title contenders.
To reassure Chelsea fans that not all hope is lost though, Saturday’s fixture remains a historically tough meeting for Pep Guardiola and his men. Not only have City lost more Premier League games (26) to Chelsea than they have any other opponent, Pep has also never lost to a team more in his career than Chelsea.
Prior to their valiant 1-0 defeat to City earlier in the season, Chelsea have also emerged victorious in their previous 3 meetings. The most significant to note is the Champions League title in Porto last year.
In addition, the last time Chelsea were triumphant at the Etihad was back in December 2016, the same season they won the title under Antonio Conte.
Unfortunately, to dampen Chelsea supporters’ hopes, that was under very different circumstances to those they find themselves currently. At the same point in that season, Pep and his men were dwindling down in 5th, whilst Chelsea occupied top spot with a 7-point lead over second-placed rivals, Tottenham. Subsequently, with 17 rounds to go, their job then was far easier than it is now.
That is, a win on Saturday would kick-start a feat that was last achieved back in 1998 by Arsène Wenger’s Arsenal, who overturned a 10-point deficit to deny Manchester United with 18 rounds to go.
Therefore, not only does recent form and performance emphasise the unlikelihood of Chelsea denying City the title but with one less round at their disposal as The Gunners had back in 1998; history would suggest that come May 22nd, Pep’s formidable outfit will yet again lift the Premier League trophy.