Manchester City and Chelsea meet at the Etihad on Saturday with just a single point separating them at the top of the Premier League table for what should be one of the most fascinating tactical battles of the season.
Pep Guardiola and Antonio Conte have never faced each other as managers, so expect some cautious sparring in a game that neither team can afford to lose. A point would probably suit both sides making the draw, currently priced at 3.61*, a valuable betting opportunity.
Chelsea have won seven consecutive league matches and have conceded just once in that time, while Man City are without a clean sheet in five games.
The form guide, however, suggests that Chelsea will edge it. They have now won seven consecutive league matches and have conceded just once in that time, while Man City – though undefeated in six – have struggled for fluency of late and are without a clean sheet in five games. City won both of their league matches last season 3-0, but Antonio Conte’s Chelsea are an entirely different animal.
It will be fascinating to see how Guardiola attempts to tackle Conte’s brilliant 3-4-2-1 system. He may choose to match their formation, as he did in the 1-1 draw with Everton and in doing so could nullify the threat of Eden Hazard and Pedro. Using a double playmaker system would also allow him to field Kevin de Bruyne centrally without taking Yaya Toure out of the starting 11.
But it would be foolish to guess Guardiola’s approach. He often finds creative solutions to problems and so there is no doubt that Saturday’s game will be strategically complex.
Ultimately, both coaches will work so hard to nullify the other that a draw seems the most likely outcome, particularly given that Chelsea struggled to create chances against Tottenham and Man City were out of sorts against Burnley last weekend.
*Odds subject to change
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