Weblog: The football punter

City to show Chelsea who the real champions are

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Chelsea’s top-four ambitions were dealt a hammer blow at Old Trafford last weekend and another trip to Manchester to tackle runaway league leaders Man City could end in similar disappointment for the champions.

The Blues are stalling in their title defence and three defeats in their last four league matches leaves Antonio Conte’s men with work to do in their battle for Champions League qualification.

Chelsea have won just two of their last eight league games on the road. Those successes came at relegation-threatened pair Huddersfield and Brighton, and another away defeat at the Etihad could be fatal to their top-four hopes.

However, it’s difficult to see anything but misery for Conte’s crew and nullifying the Premier League’s most exciting attack is easier said than delivered.

Arsenal twice felt the brunt of City’s fluid front line last week. The Citizens dismantled the Gunners 3-0 in the EFL Cup at Wembley to secure their first silverware under Guardiola before following up by the same scoreline in the league at the Emirates on Thursday.

And with the title getting ever nearer to their grasp - just five victories stand between them and Premier League glory - it's hard to imagine Guardiola’s men will ease up just yet.

A 1-1 draw with Everton in their opening home game of the campaign is the only time City have failed to win in 14 league tussles at the Etihad this season.

The Citizens have been utterly dominant on their own patch - they have scored 49 goals in racking up 13 consecutive home league successes - and Chelsea could struggle to contain them.

Liverpool shipped five goals on their trip to the league leaders while Tottenham conceded four and Arsenal let in three, so the Londoners will be fearing the worst if the Citizens are fully wound up.

Kevin De Bruyne has been running the show for Guardiola's men all season, grabbing 14 league assists, and should prove his worth, while leading marksman Sergio Aguero can do no wrong at present.

Raheem Sterling’s injury takes away some of City’s attacking intent but Leroy Sane has the pace to get in behind and giving the instrumental De Bruyne and David Silva time on the ball could be deadly.

City have no need to worry about their Champions League second-leg showdown with Basel on Wednesday as a 4-0 win in Switzerland looks to have put them through, and a visit from a big-six rival should see them at their scintillating best.

Guardiola has a few injuries defensively to contend with, however. Full-back Kyle Walker is expected to miss out and with Fernandinho, the defensive protector in midfield, on the sidelines Chelsea have every chance of getting on the scoresheet.

The visitors have scored on league visits to Manchester United, Tottenham, Arsenal and Liverpool, and punters can get more bang for their buck by backing the Blues to grab a consolation.

City are a joy to watch going forward but if there’s a weakness it’s at the back - they have shipped in seven of their last nine home league matches - and if Eden Hazard and the in-form Willian can bring their A-game then goals for both sides look likely.

Manchester City to win and both teams to score

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Match in Focus


Holland v England

Home Win Draw Away Win
Key stats
  • England have kept four clean sheets in a row and five in their last six
Expert verdict
This is Ronald Koeman’s first game in charge of the Oranje and, as well as saying farewell to the likes of Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder and ignoring the claims of Daley Blind and Robin van Persie, he’s brought in five new faces. England have been defensively very good in recent internationals, with clean sheets against world champions Germany and Brazil, and are un likely to be beaten.