Chelsea can capitalise on a possible Man City European hangover when the teams meet on Saturday.
Man City stunned Chelsea’s Champions League conquerors PSG in midweek to move into their first ever semi-final in Europe’s premier tournament. However, they’ll have to refocus on domestic matters quickly, with three Premier League games before the semi-final, or otherwise they might have to win the Champions League to be in it next season.
When these teams met back in August City were superb as they won 3-0 and it looked like they were going to enjoy a procession to the title. However, hindsight shows that it told us more about the struggles Chelsea were about to face as the Blues suffered a massive loss of form compared to the title winning side from a year ago.
Guus Hiddink has come in and restored pride, as they’d be in a Champions League spot based on the period since Mourinho’s firing, but that says something about the rest of the league though, as Chelsea have still thrown numerous points away by drawing eight of their last 15 matches. This ‘drawitis’ has been particularly prevalent at Stamford Bridge, where six of their last seven matches have finished all-square but they will surely be motivated for this match to show that they are still one of the best in the league and to impress Antonio Conte who will undoubtedly be paying close attention.
Chelsea’s only defeat in six matches against the current top-five since that early loss to City was a 2-1 loss at Leicester and they will be able to welcome back Diego Costa from suspension. That’s a huge plus as Costa has found his best form since Hiddink took over but problems persist in defence where Zouma and Terry are missing and Cahill is a doubt. The Blues have not managed a clean sheet in nine home games and the last eight have all seen both teams score.
City held on last weekend to beat West Brom in another unconvincing display but again produced the goods in Europe and Manuel Pellegrini has a real chance of winning something before he’s replaced this summer. He’s probably not too concerned with the league then and since beating Chelsea in August this City side have won only one other match against the current top-half, going W1-D3-L9. That is home and away and just on the road they’ve gone W0-D3-L4 at the top-half this season while failing to score four times.
These teams met here eight weeks ago in the FA Cup and while City played a virtual youth side they were given a bit of a lesson in a 5-1 defeat. That shouldn’t have too much of a bearing here but City suffered a chastening defeat against United in the derby following their progression in the last round of the Champions League and we wouldn’t be surprised if they have another hangover here to add to their dismal record against top teams this term.
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