Manchester City are set to take on Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday afternoon, looking to secure a three point lead at the top of the Premier League table before yet another international break.
City travel to London after having won their past five matches in a row, and will look to continue their fine form against Mauricio Pochettino’s squad.
Following the 3-0 win in the midweek against Young Boys, Manchester City have outscored their opponents 17-3, and have qualified for the knockout stage of the Champions League and reclaimed top spot of the Premier League table.
Chelsea have also begun to find their stride. After an incredibly slow start to the season the London club gave Tottenham their first loss of the season, and nearly took all three points against Arsenal last month.
However, the Blues have won their past six matches against Chelsea, and have not lost at Stamford Bridge since 2018.
Manchester City head into the eve of the third international break this season level on points with Arsenal, with a game in hand. A win would secure a vital three point cushion before facing Liverpool, Tottenham and Villa after the break.
Pep Guardiola confirmed in his pre-match press conference that John Stones and Kevin De Bruyne will both be out until at least after the international break, but did not provide specific time tables for their returns.
The Catalan was able to rest some crucial players during the midweek clash against Young Boys to prepare for one of the most important matches of the season, and here is how we predict Pep Guardiola will line-up his Manchester City side on Sunday afternoon.
Ederson will unsurprisingly start in goal.
Kyle Walker should get the nod at right back. Chelsea have pace all over the pitch, and Walker remains the best in the world at preventing counter-attacks.
Manuel Akanji and Ruben Dias will start as the centre-back paring, with Stones out we expect Akanji to step into the midfield role to give Manchester City an extra man in possession.
Josko Gvardiol has featured in nearly every match so far since joining in the summer and we expect that trend to continue. The Croatian’s ability on the ball will be vital with Stones out.
Rodri will also unsurprisingly start in his role in defensive midfield as City look to be unbeaten in his last 39 starts for the club.
After being rested against Young Boys in the midweek, we expect both Bernardo Silva and Julian Alvarez to start in midfield. Alvarez has arguably been Manchester City’s best player other than Rodri and has done an excellent job filling in for the injured De Bruyne.
We expect Phil Foden to get the nod at right back. The 23-year-old has only been rested once this season and his nine goal contributions are third most in the squad.
Erling Haaland will be the third unsurprising and guaranteed starter for Sunday afternoon’s match. The Norwegian was taken off with thirty minutes to go in the midweek game, as Pep Guardiola continues to expertly manage the striker’s minutes.
After excellent performances against Young Boys and Manchester United, we expect Jack Grealish to get the start ahead of Jeremy Doku. Guardiola loves Grealish’s ability to slow the game down and control teams, especially away from home. Doku has been absolutely unplayable at times this season, which has forced Grealish to up his game as well.
Starting XI: Ederson; Walker, Akanji, Dias, Gvardiol; Rodri, Bernardo, Alvarez; Foden, Haaland, Grealish.
Substitutes: Carson, Ortega, Lewis, Ake, Phillips, Kovacic, Nunes, Doku, Bobb.
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