City’s Defensive Issues
City have conceded in six of their last seven games, conceding 7 goals vs an expected goals against of 8.03, so on that basis they are likely to concede at least once in this game. For this game, they will most likely be without first-team defenders Diaz and Laporte.
How is Morale?
Rico Lewis has come in and done well at left back although he was at fault for the goal against Everton, allowing too much space for Gray in the box to shoot. It’s possible that City could continue with Lewis but more likely he would go with the experience of Walker. He will be mindful of the threat and motivation of Raheen Sterling on the Chelsea left wing as well as wanted to protect Lewis for the longer term – this should help City clearly. In left back he has preferred Ake, a centre back, ahead of Cancelo. If he brings in Walker he’ll likely bring in Cancelo too, as he can invert into midfield when needed, as Lewis was doing on the other side.
Alvarez is also back for City and will not be happy to be on the bench after his breakout World Cup performances, starring in the critical knockout rounds. Foden and Silva have also been surprisingly benched in the past two games and will also not be happy about that. Grealish and Mahrez have been playing who Guradiola likes to help him control games.
This type of control is a form of defensive possession and seems a little anti-football. Grealish is an important part of this as he is superb and maintaining possession, however it does look like he finds this role tiresome and against his natural flair street style football. Most managers talk about letting players express themselves – City try to do the opposite at times.
Defenders Trying to Upset Haaland
Opposition defenders are starting to get tight and tough with Haaland to try to put him off his game. You could see he was getting frustrated at the referee for not getting more fouls against Everton as Godfrey tightly marked him. Koulibaly will not fear Haaland and Silva will also have plenty of experience to use. It’ll be an interesting battle from that point of view.
Pressure is on City to close the gap on Arsenal as they could only draw in their game against Newcastle. If City win they will reduce the gap to five points. But if they go a goal down this pressure, which is on them due to their own high standards, will increase a notch.
Chelsea have used 12 formations this season. This is mainly due to Potter’s tinkering as he tends to change formation multiple times during a game. City will not try to predict this but instead to focus on their own system, which is 4-3-3, a formation they have used 88% of the time this season. Their main source of unpredictability is if Foden will play or not.
Might Chelsea Catch them off-guard?
Chelsea will be hard to forecast what formation they will play, the role of the players in that formation, and also who will play and who will not. They have a lot of injuries, and clearly, Potter’s tactics have not been working yet, as Chelsea really struggle to create chances. However, Chelsea have a large squad of quality players, and it is possible that they can focus their minds on this game and raise their game. In fact, it is likely that they will raise their game, particularly Sterling. Ziyech has shown glimpes of form since the World Cup so I’ll be looking to him to initiate a Chelsea win or comeback.
Much of the above is quite speculative. However as Chelsea are 5.5 to win, there is scope for speculation.
The Cash Dash hunts down value and if Chelsea can start solidly they are fair value to create one decent chance in the first half. If they get one and City feel pressure and Chelsea feel boosted then they might sneek a second. Typically Chelsea might be 14.0 against a midtable side to be 2-0 up at HT, here they are 40.0. Speculative but I enjoy the possiblity of this bet.
Bet: Chelsea to be winning 2-0 at HT, 40.0, 4 (of 287) on Betfair.
City have also conceded a lot late in games. I will be following the game and subsitutions and will hunting down a value bet in the second half.