Date: 2nd December 2016 at 2:22pm
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December has arrived & Christmas is almost upon us although you could be forgiven for feeling rather jaded already given that the shops have been stuffing it down our throats since early October. Bah Humbug!

Right, that’s the Grinch tendency dealt with and on to matters of far greater importance. Football.

Yes it is here. The title decider, the biggest game in history. Two giants of the Premier League go head to head in the moistest massiviest hugest giganticist match ever televised!

With Sky’s breathless intro written for them it’s time for a more sober assessment of what is in prospect when the match kicks off at lunchtime on Saturday.

This fixture sees first vs third in the league and brings together two of the most tactically astute managers in the game today. Antonio Conte brings his league leading Chelsea side to the Etihad on the back of seven consecutive victories in the Premier League, a run in which they have conceded only a single goal and scored seventeen. This fact is one which will cause perhaps the most consternation among the home fans given the somewhat less than watertight nature of our defence.

The possibility exists that Conte may name an unchanged side for the seventh game in a row whilst Pep has made a total of forty (yes, 40) changes to his starting XI this season. That Conte seems to be reaping the benefit not only of a low injury list coupled with Chelsea’s non-involvement in European competition this season is self-evident. He has been afforded the luxury not only of the squad having more rest and recovery time but also far more opportunity to work with them on the training pitch, free of the need to prepare and travel for mid-week fixtures. That consistency of selection results in more consistent performances can reap such benefits has been apparent in the strength of their performances.

That Pep Guardiola goes into this game one point off his opponents at the top of the league whilst combining the need to get results (only a single defeat in the league) and integrate his coaching philosophy within the squad whilst accommodating an additional six fixtures (two against one of the best sides in the world) however, says much about his abilities and the resilience and adaptability of his players. I dare say though that had a City side remained unchanged for seven games they would probably be accused of failing to take the chance to give young or squad fringe players opportunities.

Apart from the aberration in the FA Cup last season City haven’t lost to the Kings Road Strollers in the last 5 league outings winning three and drawing 2 in a period which stretches back over two years. That is an impressive record and one which will face its sternest test on Saturday. Last season the Chelsea’s side were labouring under the stale and increasingly flat management of The Moaning One. Conte has shown that without the oppressive ‘it’s all about me’ management style of his predecessor, the Chelsea players have demonstrated that they had lost none of their skill, ability or desire. That The Stretfords seem to be similarly unable to flourish under the management of the self-styled Special One speaks volumes. It`s also rather amusing.

Pep will once again reach into his Tactical Sorting Hat on Saturday morning and reveal the names he has chosen to take on the high flying Chelsea side and there is bound to be a surprise for the man always seems to have a plan. Most City fans won’t have a clue as to what it will be though as he comes up with a solution to counter the flying attacks of Victor Moses, the inability of Diego Costa to remain on his feet anywhere near the opposition penalty area (Otamendi BEWARE), the reinvigorated skills of Hazard and some means of avoiding Sergio Aguero being surrounded by 3 giant centre backs, Matic and Kante. Fernandinho in a back three for City along with Stones and Otamendi? Kolarov and Sagna as wing backs of our own? Ooh the excitement! – It’s almost better than Christmas!

Whatever the outcome on Saturday the title will not be decided by the result of this one game whatever Sky come up with. But it is about time that City started delivering against their title rivals, an area where they singularly underachieved last season.

It could be a cracker.

Come On City!!!

Team News

Man City:
Out – Kompany
Doubtful – Delph

Chelsea:
Out – Terry
Doubtful – M Obi

City await news on the fitness of Sterling who left the pitch at Burnley after a collision with Mee. Not me of course. I wasn’t there and would have gotten nowhere near the lad. Ben Mee. Ex-City lad. Glad I cleared that up.

STOP PRESS: Could this be the game when the largely fictional character of Fabian Delph emerges blinking into the daylight from the dark recesses of the medical department? Watch this space. Or rather the internet at 1130am on Saturday to see if his name will appear on a City team sheet since – gosh when was it?

Let’s not mention Vincent Kompany. Darn it, I mentioned him.

Chelsea will be missing that man of virtue and fine upstanding representative of all that is fair in football, John ‘Just Keep Extending my Contract’ Terry but John Obi Mikel may face a late fitness test.

Danger man – Victor Moses. This young man has flourished since being re-invented by Antonio Conte and given the role of wing back. In this position his pace and attacking ability have allowed him to attack at speed and almost ‘fly under the radar’ and which has enabled him to find the net four times already. Our midfield need to be fully engaged especially during transitional play or he could cause serious problems to our less than watertight defence.

League Standing & Form

01 Chelsea P13 W10 D1 L2 GF29 GA10 GD+19 Pts31 Form WWWWW
03 Man City P13 W09 D3 L1 GF29 GA12 GD+17 Pts30 Form DDWDWW

Overall Form
Man City P22 W10 D2 L2 GF34 GA16
Chelsea P16 W12 D1 L3 GF37 GA16

Previous meeting (last 6 matches)

EPL 16/04/16 Chelsea 0 Man City 3
FAC 21/02/16 Chelsea 5 Man City 1
EPL 16/08/15 Man City 3 Chelsea 0
EPL 31/01/15 Chelsea 1 Man City 1
EPL 21/09/14 Man City 1 Chelsea 1
EPL 15/02/14 Man City 2 Chelsea 0

Goals – City 11 Chelsea 7
Y Cards – City 18 Chelsea 10
R Cards – City 1 Chelsea 1

Top scorers (all comps)

Manchester City – Aguero 16; Sterling 5; Nolito 5 Gundogan 5
Chelsea – Costa 10; Hazard 7; Moses 4

 
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