Big Weekend: Chelsea v City, Herrera, Hasshenhuttl, Superclasico
1 weeks ago, 11:23
Game to watch – Chelsea v Manchester City
One win in their last four means this meeting is no longer the top-of-the-table clash it promised to be a few weeks ago. Chelsea have slipped ten points off Manchester City’s pace after the flaws in Sarri-ball belatedly showed their faces. But that doesn’t make this Saturday evening offering any the less appetising. Especially to those who appreciate a passing game.
This could be the closest thing the Premier League ofers to a game of two-touch. It brings together the current champions, who broke the record for successful passes in a game last year, and the previous title holders, who have recorded the highest number of passes in a single match this season.
The difference between Sarri’s Blues and Pep Guardiola’s is that City pass with greater purpose. Of course, Guardiola has had a two-year headstart on Sarri and the progress the Chelsea boss has overseen since taking over in the summer has been considerable. But while these two sides, according to Opta, are the only teams to have recorded over 300 ten-plus pass sequences, City are more successful in moving the ball to reach its intended destination – the opposition box.
Chelsea’s possession too often seems to be for the sake of it. Perhaps that perceived weakness will be an asset against City: if Sarri’s side can keep the ball, play around the press and deprive City more successfully than their other opponents, then Guardiola’s men will have fewer opportunities to mount their dizzying attacks.
One thing seems certain: neither side will get the possession they have become accustomed to. City have had the ball for 68% of their season, while Chelsea have played with only marginally less – 67%. Both teams, if they are playing to win, will have to be more efficient with what possession they are given.
That is where both managers have concerns. Chelsea’s attacking deficiencies are well documented, with neither Alvaro Morato nor Olivier Giroud offering the regular goalscoring threat Sarri craves. Eden Hazard’s goals have also dried up, with the Belgium star not having notched since the Southampton trip on October 7.
Guardiola doesn’t have much to worry about but the lack of a cutting edge is one thing to keep him awake at night. The Premier League table suggests he need not be concerned, given City have scored 11 more goals than anyone else. But, as he admitted, his side’s lack of ruthlessness at Watford led to a lot of unnecessary arse twitching in the final stages, by which time Gabriel Jesus could and should have had a hat-trick. Given current form, Guardiola will be desperate to get Sergio Aguero back from a two-match absence, even if he has offered his backing to Jesus.
City cannot afford to slip up as they may have been nudged off the Premier League summit before they even kick off at Stamford Bridge. And for Chelsea, their 18-match unbeaten run will seem a distant memory if they lose for the third time ...
Category: sports football