Manchester City can build up a massive 13-point lead at the top of the Premier League table with a win over Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium this lunchtime.
The early kick-off pits the top two against each other with the visitors’ responsibility to cut City’s ten-point advantage and make a fist of this title chase.
Pep Guardiola’s side have won seven consecutive victories in all competitions and their last ten Premier League appearances. Moreover, they beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge earlier this season to bounce back from their Champions League final heartbreak at Porto.
As for Thomas Tuchel’s Blues, an enjoyable week in cup competition saw them book a place at Wembley in the Carabao Cup and an FA Cup fourth round draw at home to Plymouth. But four of their last five games in the league have ended in a four.
With kick-off at 12.30pm, follow all the latest updates with James Robson at the Etihad and Marc Mayo…
Thomas Tuchel has reiterated his desire to win the Premier League after a tricky patch for Chelsea.
He said: “I don’t know if we can do it in the next 18 months or whatever, it depends on a lot of factors. But, yes, yes, I want to win the Premier League with Chelsea. A clear yes.
“Will I be miserable for the rest of my life if we can’t do this? Maybe not, but I’d be absolutely pissed at myself if we didn’t try.
“So we’ll try and won’t hide that’s the goal. But on the same side, once you’ve achieved it, you want to have it again.
Pep Guardiola is ready for a pre-match chat with BT Sport, with the Spaniard noting City have survived the past two days without any new Covid cases.
He said, “I think [Chelsea] will be more aggressive than the first game at Stamford Bridge. It’s a huge challenge, their European champions.
“At the same time, we prepared for a good performance and to deserve the win.”
Dimitar Berbatov tips Chelsea to reignite the title chase at the Etihad today.
The former striker told Betfair: “I expect an equal game between City and Chelsea, they are both really good. I admire the way Chelsea play, they have a really balanced team. Thomas Tuchel is a great trainer.
“They have the chance to do something at the Etihad and if they win and go seven points, they’re back and can put some pressure on.”
Back to 3-4-2-1 for Thomas Tuchel and Chelsea.
Thiago Silva and Marcos Alonso return, as does N’Golo Kante to replace Jorginho in midfield.
In attack, Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic are preferred to Mason Mount and Timo Werner.
That makes six changes for Manchester City from the side that beat Swindon in the FA Cup.
Ederson, John Stones, Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, Aymeric Laporte and Raheem Sterling come in with Gabriel Jesus, Ruben Dias and Ilkay Gundogan on the bench.
Nathan Ake and Cole Palmer are not considered suitable for the team.
How visitors line up…
Chelsea XI: Kepa; Sarr, Silva, Rudiger; Azpilicueta, Kante, Kovacic, Alonso; Pulisic, Lukaku, Ziyech.
Subtitles: Bettinelli, Jorginho, Saul, Loftus-Cheek, Hudson-Odoi, Mount, Barkley, Havertz, Werner.
The Man City squad are in…
Manchester City XI: Ederson; Walker, Stones, Laporte, Cancelo; Rodri, De Bruyne, Bernardo; Sterling, Foden, Greish.
Subtitles: Steffen, Dias, Gundogan, Jesus, Fernandinho, Mbete, McAtee, Lavia, Wilson-Esbrand.
Team news in ten minutes!
Standard Sports Prediction
Chelsea have proven they can beat City under Thomas Tuchel, but Guardiola’s side are usually so strong at home. Back in December, it might have seemed fair to suggest the champions would go on to win, but Chelsea’s recent improvement is worth noting.
Predicted Man City XI: Ederson; Walker, Laporte, Dias, Cancelo; Rodri, Gundogan, De Bruyne; Sterling, Silva, Foden.