Gameweek 12 of the 2023/24 Premier League season will end with a blockbuster clash when Chelsea and Manchester City clash at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

The last international break of 2023 is nearly here. But club football still has a few more fixtures to offer, with the curtains falling on Gameweek 12 of the 2023/24 Premier League season when Chelsea and Manchester City meet at Stamford Bridge on Sunday evening.

Chelsea would have hoped for improving fortunes under the tutelage of Mauricio Pochettino after a horrendous 2022/23 campaign. But the Blues have won as many games as they have lost thus far this term. That said, there have been a few positive signs, as chance-creation has been top-notch. Meanwhile, Pochettino’s charges come into this game on the back of a 4-1 victory over Tottenham Hotspur on Monday.

On the other hand, Manchester City came into the new season after winning the treble last term. Pep Guardiola’s men have been exceptional again this season but have produced a few uncharacteristic displays that have given way to two defeats. But the reigning champions are currently on a five-game winning run, with the latest success coming against BSC Young Boys in the UEFA Champions League.

The corresponding fixture last season ended in a 1-0 win for Manchester City, with Riyad Mahrez scoring the game’s only goal. The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides.

Team News & Tactics

Chelsea

Mauricio Pochettino has greeted a positive update on the team news front ahead of his side’s latest fixture. Against Manchester City on Sunday, the Chelsea manager will be bereft of the services of six first-team players.

The good news is that Armando Broja should be available after recovering from a knee injury. But Wesley Fofana (ACL), Ben Chilwell (thigh), Trevoh Chalobah (hamstring), Carney Chukwuemeka (knee), Romeo Lavia (ankle), and Christopher Nkunku (knee) remain unavailable.

Robert Sanchez will retain his spot between the sticks despite blowing hot and cold as a Chelsea player. The home side will line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation in front of him, with the defensive unit featuring the first-choice quartet of Reece James, Axel Disasi, Thiago Silva, and Levi Colwill.

Chelsea’s 4-2-3-1 formation will morph into a 4-3-3 during the defensive phases, with the hosts putting more men behind the ball. So, Conor Gallagher, who will reprise the no. 10 role to release the attackers with his link-up play, will drop back for more defensive support.

Moises Caicedo and Enzo Fernandez will be the other two midfielders, with the duo having the onus on them to keep things tight in the middle of the park. Nicolas Jackson comes into Sunday’s fixture on the back of a match-winning hat-trick against Tottenham Hotspur. The Senegalese international will lead the line for the Blues this weekend, with Raheem Sterling and Cole Palmer completing the numbers in the final third.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Sanchez; James, Disasi, Silva, Colwill; Caicedo, Fernandez; Palmer, Gallagher, Sterling; Jackson

Manchester City

Like his counterpart in the Chelsea dugout, Pep Guardiola does not have any new injury concerns hampering his preparations ahead of the trip to Stamford Bridge. The Manchester City manager will be without four first-team players on Sunday.

Kevin De Bruyne is the most notable absentee, with the Belgian playmaker recovering from a hamstring injury. De Bruyne accompanies Manuel Akanji (back), Sergio Gomez (knock), and John Stones (thigh) in the treatment room.

Manchester City will line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Ederson Moraes taking his usual spot between the sticks. The system will morph into a 3-4-2-1, with Kyle Walker moving into the right wing-back berth. But on paper, Walker will line up alongside Ruben Dias, Nathan Ake, and Josko Gvardiol in the defensive unit.

Mateo Kovacic will accompany Rodri in the double pivot in the middle of the park, with the former Chelsea midfielder facing the Blues for the first time in the Premier League since departing from Stamford Bridge this past summer.

Bernardo Silva, Julian Alvarez, and Jeremy Doku will form the supporting cast for Erling Haaland, who will spearhead the Manchester City attack against Chelsea. But Doku and Walker will provide the width when the system changes during the offensive phases, with Silva and Alvarez taking up the central spots.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Ederson; Walker, Dias, Ake, Gvardiol; Rodri, Kovacic; Silva, Alvarez, Doku; Haaland

Key Stats

  • Manchester City have won 1-0 in each of their last four Premier League meetings with Chelsea. The only opponents Chelsea have failed to score against in more than four successive top-flight fixtures are Newcastle United: six games from 1913 to 1919. The Blues are looking to avoid five consecutive league defeats against a specific opponent since a run of seven at the hands of Blackburn between 1993 and 1996.
  • Chelsea have won three of their last five league matches following a run of just two in 18 attempts. But their only win in the past 13 home league games was 3-0 versus Luton Town in August.
  • Manchester City’s tally of 27 points is their highest after 11 league matches since they had 29 at this stage in 2018/19. But they have lost three of their last six away games in all competitions, although they are on a 23-match winning streak at home.
  • Since losing against Chelsea and Brighton & Hove Albion in May 2021, Manchester City have only lost one of the last 68 Premier League games in which they have scored the first goal (W61 D6).
  • Chelsea have failed to score in nine of their 18 home league fixtures in 2023, including three of the last four.

Player to Watch

Cole Palmer

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Erling Haaland is often under the spotlight in Manchester City’s fixtures. But we have picked Cole Palmer for Sunday’s blockbuster clash, with the 21-year-old facing his former club for the first time since joining Chelsea in a deadline-day move.

The Englishman has been one of the most consistent performers for Chelsea since arriving at Stamford Bridge this past summer. A record of three goals and four assists in ten appearances thus far is impressive. And Palmer will look to prove a point by adding to that tally on Sunday while salvaging a point or three for his new club.

Prediction

Chelsea 0-1 Manchester City

Recent meetings between Chelsea and Manchester City have not produced a glut of goals. While the Blues have been frugal in the final third, they are solid at the back and do not concede many openings. That defensive reliability should be a feature of the home side’s gameplay on Sunday. But their lack of offensive productivity will also become a factor.

Erling Haaland has scored 67 goals in 70 appearances for Manchester City in all competitions since the beginning of last season, just five fewer than Chelsea’s total of 72 goals in 64 matches in that period. That gap should close further on Sunday, with The Hard Tackle predicting Haaland to score the match-winner in a 1-0 victory for Manchester City over Chelsea.

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