Chelsea has to beat Man City to keep their title ambitions alive, but their opponents are still out for vengeance following their Champions League heartbreak.
When the season began, many people picked CHELSEA to win the Premier League.
Nonetheless, by 2.30 p.m. on Saturday, January 15th, their race might be practically completed — despite the fact that they still have four months to go.
If Thomas Tuchel’s side loses at the Etihad in the midday kick-off, they will be 13 points behind their opponents Manchester City.
With only 16 games remaining and Pep Guardiola’s side looking so strong, that would be an impossible margin to close.
Chelsea’s league campaign hasn’t been a complete disaster; they’ve only lost twice and are averaging more than two points per game.
A total of 43 points from your first 21 games would have been considered a strong springboard to push on during the run-in not long ago.
However, since Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp arrived on these shores, things have changed.
When you’re up against a team like the City, good isn’t good enough. The bar has been raised significantly.
Chelsea upset Pep’s side in the Champions League final in Porto in May, after defeating them in the league and FA Cup the week before.
With Tuchel at the helm, the expectation was that they would step up their game – and they were given the funds to do so.
When Roman Abramovich brought Romelu Lukaku back to Stamford Bridge for £100 million, he did not get much change.
The Russian owner will expect more than a spot in the Carabao Cup final as a return on his massive investment for that type of money.
Meanwhile, Guardiola has demonstrated that you don’t always need a high-priced striker to leave your opponents in the dust.
He even sold Ferran Torres – one of the attackers earmarked for the post in the summer – to Barcelona earlier this month, as if to prove his point.
When the teams met in London in September, City, plainly stung by their hat-trick of defeats, put in one of their greatest performances under Guardiola.
A repeat of that this weekend will demonstrate the European Union’s strength.