With their Premier League title defence beginning to falter, Manchester City head to the capital this evening where a victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge feels like a must.
Chelsea however, are in desperate need of a tonic themselves following their poor showing at Nottingham Forest on New Year’s Day and with his critics becoming more audible by the week, under-fire Blues boss Graham Potter will be keen to silence a few doubters by masterminding a win over Pep Guardiola.
Below, you can sink your teeth into my stats pack for this heavyweight showdown, which contains enough nuggets to pack your bet builder with savvy selections. If you need a couple of pointers about how to get the most out of the info, give my Stats Pack Guide a run-through.
N’Golo Kante, Reece James and Wesley Fofana are three significant absentees for Chelsea, while Armando Broja is still sidelined with a knee complaint.
Kalidiou Koulibaly could drop out of defence after his underwhelming display against Nottingham Forest. Expect Nathan Chalobah to slot into the Blues’ backline if Koulibaly is dropped. Mateo Kovacic should return to the XI in midfield having been named on the bench against Forest.
Ruben Dias is still nursing a hamstring injury and won’t feature for Man City, while fellow centre-half Aymeric Laporte is struggling with a back problem and could miss out again.
Julian Alvarez could start for the first time since winning the World Cup with Argentina while Phil Foden will be pushing to re-join the XI having seen just a few minutes of action against Everton.
Chelsea were the Premier League’s highest-spending club in the summer window, though their huge financial outlay hasn’t been rewarded by performances on the pitch.
Chelsea’s underlying stats for the campaign make for pretty grim reading for those of a Blues persuasion. Only six clubs in the division have been posting lower xG for figures per 90, while their high card count per game hints at a simmering frustration in their ranks.
Manchester City rank first in the Premier League for a number of metrics this season including goals, xG and shots per 90, though top spot in the table itself is drifting further out of their reach as Arsenal continue to step on the gas.
Interestingly, City have been winning 37% more corners per 90 than Chelsea this term and when the teams met in the Carabao Cup in November, they won nine to the Blues’ six. That could be something to exploit for your bet builder today.
Player Shots and Shots on Target
Graham Potter has been struggling to get a tune out of his forward options, though he chose to field Christian Pulisic, Kai Havertez and Raheem Sterling as a trident in the final third in the Blues’ last two games and that trio stand out as the strongest shot market candidates for Chelsea this evening.
Former City star Sterling managed to get an attempt on target in each of Chelsea’s last two games against Bournemouth and Nottingham Forest respectively, and keen to shine against his old teammates, he looks handily priced at even money to lodge at least one shot on target again.
Erling Haaland remains the potent focal point of City’s attack and his shots and shots on target figures per 90 for the campaign dwarf the tallies posted by all of his sky blue-clad teammates.
The Norwegian managed to hit the target with five attempts in City’s last away assignment at Leeds and while matching that haul will be tougher at Stamford Bridge, Haaland looks excellent value at 8/15 to clock at least two shots on target against Chelsea later today.
Elsewhere, Spanish midfielder Rodri has been upping his output in this department since the campaign’s resumption. The 26-year-old racked up three or more attempts in each of his last two starts (vs Everton & Leeds) and at 15/8, the anchorman is available at eye-catching odds to have a minimum of two shots against the Blues.
Player Goals and Assists
Raheem Sterling’s opener against Nottingham Forest put him level with German Kai Havertz at the top of the Chelsea scoring charts. Havertz had a hand in both Blues’ goals in their last home assignment against Bournemouth, and the 23-year-old famously bagged the winner against Man City in the 2021 Champions League final.
Havertz and Sterling also rank in positions one and two at Chelsea for xG this season and that pair seem the likeliest to do some damage again today.
If you’re mulling over possible options for the assist market, Mason Mount (16/5) could be one to consider. Mount is second at Chelsea for shot-creating-actions since August and three of the last four goals conceded by City in the Premier League were created by passes from midfielders.
Some observers and pundits have started to suggest that Man City are developing an unhealthy overreliance on Erling Haaland, and we’ll lean just as heavily on the explosive finisher for our coupons today.
Haaland is a superb price at 8/11 to score anytime at Stamford Bridge, while his odds of 13/5 to score first also tickle my fancy. While just five of his 21 Premier League goals this season have been deadlock-breakers, the 22-year-old has been improving in that regard.
Haaland has put City in front in two of his last three appearances in league and cup (vs Everton and Liverpool). As always, Kevin de Bruyne will be the one opening supply lines for Haaland. The Belgian has set up six goals in all competitions for his new teammate in 2022/23 and the schemer is priced at 6/5 to lay on another this evening.
Chelsea have been enjoying just under 60% of the ball on average in their Premier League fixtures this season, though the Blues will expect that figure to drop against possession-hungry Man City later today.
Naturally, Chelsea’s players should see a notable decrease in their passing stats individually too and it might be savvier to omit them from your bet builder coupons as a result.
Brazilian veteran Thiago Silva is listed as the Blues’ most-potent passer this term, however, the 38-year-old managed to clock just 58 and 43 passes when Chelsea hosted Arsenal and Man Utd at Stamford Bridge earlier in the campaign, and he could be similarly starved of the ball this evening.
Centre-half Manuel Ajani is enjoying an extended run in the Manchester City team and the 27-year-old Swiss international has become one of the champion’s chief ball distributors from the back.
Akanji played an eye-watering 119 and 82 passes in his last two league appearances against Leeds and Everton, and he carries a price of 6/4 to beat a 90-passes target again later on.
At the base of City’s midfield, Rodri catches the eye at evens to break the same barrier. The silky Spaniard played 402 passes combined in his last four Premier League starts and Rodri has swept past the 90-pass mark in 11 of his 15 appearances in the division overall.
Chelsea have collected 32 cards to Man City’s 18 in the Premier League this season and the Blues had three players booked to the Citzyens’ one when the giants last traded blows in the Carabao Cup back in November.
I expect Chelsea to be the more aggressive outfit again this evening and Cesar Azpilicueta (4/1), Kai Havertz (4/1) and Raheem Sterling (9/2) all catch the eye in the card market for different reasons.
Azpilicueta won’t enjoy his one-on-ones with foul-magnet Phil Foden, while Kai Havertz could be tasked with knocking City’s Akanji out of his passing rhythm. Raheem Sterling meanwhile, will likely put his foot in against his old employers and his marker Joao Cancelo knows how to make even soft challenges look like leg-breakers.
Phil Foden, who comes equipped with a light frame and exceptional close control, routinely draws fouls and cards from markers and 33-year-old Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta could aim some challenges in his direction today.
Manuel Akanaji will have the forceful presence of Havertz on his case when Chelsea press, while Joao Cancelo, who has been fouled 1.10 times per 90 this season, could have one left on him by the eager to impress, Raheem Sterling.
Match-Ups to watch
Cesar Azpilicueta vs Phil Foden
Kai Havertz vs Manuel Akanji
Raheem Sterling vs Joao Cancelo
Man City Cards
18-year-old City starlet Rico Lewis (16/5) has hardly put a foot wrong since being thrown into the deep end by Pep Guardiola, though the rapidly-developing fullback might be drawn into more action than usual when he marks clever American forward Christian Pulisic this evening.
Alongside being a tempo-setter, Rodri is City’s main enforcer in midfield and at 5/2 to get booked, the Spaniard should feature in plenty of bet builders today. Rodri committed a hefty four fouls in City’s last away match at Leeds.
Christian Pulisic’s dribbling skills and ability to carry the ball through the lines seem to appeal to Graham Potter and the 24-year-old will be determined to give young Rico Lewis a thorough test down the Chelsea left flank today.
In more central areas, Mason Mount and Jorginho are influential figures for the Blues and both players are listed among the club’s most-fouled individuals. Man City’s Rodri looks best-placed to step on their toes later on.
Match-Ups to watch
Rico Lewis vs Christian Pulisic
Rodri vs Mason Mount/Jorginho