Chelsea and Manchester City will meet in a blockbuster Premier League clash on Saturday that will go some way to determining the early pecking order among at least two of the powerhouse clubs at the start of the season.
Along with Liverpool and Man United, Chelsea are top of the League table after five rounds of action, but it’s the Blues who are emphatically emerging as a force to be reckoned with as title contenders.
Although Chelsea produced a low energy display in the first half against Tottenham Hotspur last Sunday, N’Golo Kante came off the bench at half-time to serve as the catalyst in what turned out to be a 3-0 win that served as an emphatic statement.
“Top player, if you have N’Golo you have something everyone is looking for,” manager Thomas Tuchel raved. “You have everything you need in midfield, you have work rate, intensity, ball wins, skilful play, dribbles, half-field drives and even a goal.
“I see this every day in training and it is hard to believe how good he is. He is a unique guy, there are no more words from me. N’Golo is N’Golo, he is fantastic.”
Despite these good vibes, Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy is facing a race against ‘pain and time’ to be available for the clash against City, with the French-born Senegal international set to sit out the match against Aston Villa in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday night.
Touching on that injury worry ahead of the mouth-watering clash against City, Tuchel said: “We’ll try and do everything for Saturday and to reintegrate him [Mendy] tomorrow in individual training and, hopefully, Thursday for team training. But not yet.”
Meanwhile, City started their bid to lift a fifth successive League Cup with a 6-1 rout of Wycombe this week, and it will have particularly pleased manager Pep Guardiola to see several debutants impress at a time when the club has been beset by a number of injuries to first-team players.
The result also served as a timely boost after last weekend’s frustrating 0-0 draw against Southampton, with the defending champions’ usually potent attack having been uncharacteristically subdued.
City are now three points shy of the log leaders, but they will view this clash against Chelsea as an opportunity to set their season back on track and send out a strong statement to their title rivals.
As for the Blues, it’s a chance to maintain an unbeaten start to the season, and take another giant stride in the right direction as the League season continues to heat up.
Saturday’s match kicks off at 1:30pm.