Date: Wednesday 9th November 2022
Venue: Etihad Stadium
Kick-off: 20:00 GMT
I’m at the ‘yes, just 2 games before the World Cup’ stage now, not because I’m excited about a tournament being played in a country now bizarrely labelled a ‘bad choice’ by Blatter and not for any of the reasons I’d suggest it was the worst possible choice, but because I’m not sure how much more I can cope with watching us without greeting the nearest wall with my forehead.
An overreaction to losing to Arsenal (again)? Maybe, but not mine. We were always going to lose to them, a comparison of injury lists told you that much, without even going into current form and recent history. If fit, players like James, Chilwell, Koulibaly, Fofana, Kante, Kepa would all be in the side, because we don’t have the strength in depth for them not to, so we are going to struggle to have them all out at the same time. Let’s face it, whatever the sentimental Tuchel-tinted memories might suggest, we weren’t looking great without their absence, hence the decision several are now bemoaning, frequently.
We managed to frustrate Arsenal, they certainly didn’t trounce us in the way I’d feared they might but for all the huffing and puffing, we offered nothing. We played statues for their goal and were so pedestrian all game, we were a couple of cockapoos and a Labrador away from Sunday morning in the park. The real irritation for me, aside from the ‘Potter Out’ brigade already forming just a dozen games and only 2 defeats in, is the apparent apathy on the pitch. Whether it’s the chopping and changing of managers and personnel, injuries mounting up and our inability to field the same starting XI more than one week at a time, the World Cup on players’ minds or something else going on we don’t yet know about, it’s hard to say but even harder to watch – and then we get to play Manchester City.
At least it’s the EFL Cup tonight as we travel to the Etihad to face the Premier League Champions, so we won’t drop points but it’s not going to be the best preparation for our last Premier League game before the break, against Newcastle.
We made it to the final in this competition last year, losing to Liverpool, whilst City went out early which is rare for them in a competition they do well in. The last time we met in the competition, in 2019, we lost on penalties but I’m sure it’ll all be over a lot earlier tonight.
Going into today’s game, the cheery Manchester City manager, Pep Guardiola, says of the short turnaround with fixtures “We have training this afternoon. We have time until tomorrow [Wednesday] night. The coaches prepare the game to win the game. Performance as good as possible. The Premier League exists to support the academy, always thinking about the future of English football.”
Chelsea manager Graham Potter, meanwhile, says “When you take this job and take this challenge on, of course, there are going to be times where it’s not a pleasant road, should we say. You have to deal with that and be honest and say, ‘okay, we need to do better’, and that’s my responsibility. We’ve had a six-week period in the end where we’ve played 13 matches, eight of them away. It has a toll on everything, injuries to key players, it can get messy, It’s part of the process. I’ve been through it at Brighton, been through it at Swansea, been through it at my club in Sweden. It is what it is. That’s part of what the job is, to deal with it.
When the results were quite good, I was honest enough to say we’ve still got a lot we can do to improve. It wasn’t like we were sitting there thinking we had cracked football. Games and performance-wise, we can improve a lot. That’s exciting, that’s also the job, the challenge, and that’s what we’re looking to do. It’s why we’re looking forward to the game tomorrow. It’s why we’re looking forward to the game against Newcastle because that’s where you can learn a lot about each other.
We have to go to Manchester City and be competitive, because for sure they will be, trying to win the game. We have to be as strong as we can, which we will, and we’ll do our best. We’ll prepare the team and, with the greatest respect to our opponent – because they’re a fantastic team – we have to go to try to win the game.”
For Manchester City, Kyle Walker (groin) remains unavailable and Joao Cancelo is suspended but Kalvin Phillips (shoulder) returns to the squad and Erling Haaland is also likely to be available.
For Chelsea, Wesley Fofana and Reece James (both knee), Ben Chilwell, N’Golo Kante and Carney Chukwuemeka (all hamstring) and Kepa Arrizabalaga (plantar fascia tear) all remain out and Jorginho (foot) is also a doubt.
MANCHESTER CITY (Possible line-up): Ortega; Lewis, Dias, Laporte, Gomez; Palmer, Rodri, Foden; Mahrez, Alvarez, Grealish
CHELSEA (Possible line-up): Mendy; Azpilicueta, Chalobah, Koulibaly; Cucurella, Zakaria, Loftus-Cheek, Gallagher, Ziyech; Aubameyang, Pulisic
Manchester City 1-0 Chelsea (15th January 2022)
CURRENT FORM (ALL)
MANCHESTER CITY: LWDWWW
- The two teams have met 171 times across competitions. Chelsea lead 71-61 in wins, 39 games have ended in draws.
- This is the fourth meeting in the EFL Cup (City leading 2-1).
- The last 19 meetings have produced conclusive results, with 11 wins for City and eight for Chelsea.
- Manchester City did the league double over Chelsea last season.
- Manchester City have a 100% record at home across competitions this season.
- Manchester City have scored 25 goals in their last seven games and conceded just seven.
- Manchester City have lost once since the Community Shield in July.
- Manchester City have won all their home games this season
- Chelsea have failed to score in their last two games against City.
- Chelsea have lost 2 of their last 3 games in all competitions.
Sportsmole: Manchester City 3-1 Chelsea