By Sam Matterface
Don’t believe the naysayers. Saturday evening’s match between Chelsea and Manchester City is the biggest of the season so far.
If Manchester City triumph at Stamford Bridge this weekend they will have already taken 10 points from away trips to Arsenal, Tottenham, Liverpool and Chelsea. That’s an impressive haul.
More pertinently, they are yet to concede in those games.
It means that they can play out the rest of the season with only one major away trip to concern themselves with, and that to a befuddled, bemused Manchester United.
City are on course, if they keep up the current pattern, to register 104 points this season. That would smash their own record.
What a brilliant side they are.
Chelsea’s hopes may have to rest on lethargy and tiredness, not that City should be too hampered by that after rotating their squad expertly over the last week. They made 6 changes in midweek, and have coped admirably without Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero.
Maurizio Sarri’s side started at the speed of a downhill skier, but they have slowed as the slalom of fixtures have become trickier.
Part of this is down to mentality, they lack focus and ruthlessness. They had a huge amount of chances to take the game beyond Wolves on Wednesday but not one shot on target after the home side equalised.
Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud have failed to ease the burden on Eden Hazard, who has not scored in 11 games for club and country. This may hasten the return of Tammy Abraham, something that has been talked about at Chelsea and Bodymoor Heath.
Defensively they are vulnerable. David Luiz is a roulette wheel of a defender, anything could come up and Marcos Alonso is struggling for form.
A win for City will take them 13 points clear of Chelsea, and mean that the second half of the season looks smooth.
Pep Guardiola has played down talk of a season unbeaten, but victory tomorrow takes out one big hurdle. It also kills of Chelsea’s tiny title hopes, and paves the way for another season of City domination.
Liverpool could be top if Chelsea win, and that might change everything. The aura would disappear with a defeat and spur the Reds on.
It’s a massive game, quite possibly a turning point in the campaign, but most likely the moment Manchester City assert control over the Premier League season.