Manchester City are on a run of five wins in their last six Premier League outings and welcome Chelsea to the Etihad on Sunday.
Pep Guardiola’s side has been on something of a resurgence lately in their bid to retain their crown while Chelsea’s form has been patchy at best but do find themselves coming off a 5-0 victory over Huddersfield.
Here, we preview Maurizio Sarri’s side of the tactical battle ahead of this encounter.
HAZARD TUCKS IN
Apart from his involvement in N’Golo Kante’s opener then, Hazard was largely a peripheral figure when Chelsea beat City 2-0 at Stamford Bridge earlier this season. The 28-year-old will return to his preferred left wing role this time. Sarri is encouraged by the growing relationship between him and Higuain.
That is aided by Hazard’s freedom to tuck inside and operate behind the striker during certain passages of play. In possession, the marauding Marcos Alonso then has the freedom of the left wing to attack. With either Pedro or Willian pressing forward on the opposite flank, Cesar Azpilicueta can hang back as the back-line shuffles across as a three to ensure they’re not overly exposed in the event of a turnover.
The last time these sides met, Hazard was deployed up front but with the arrival of Higuain in January, City will be faced with a completely different problem. Unlike the Belgian, keeping him facing away from goal without options in close proximity doesn’t negate his effectiveness. The Argentine is well-versed in the art of holding up play or even using his strength and body position to roll a defender who gets too tight.
What Higuain also offers over the likes of Olivier Giroud and the now departed Alvaro Morata is a vertical option. The Blues keep the ball well but struggle to penetrate the back-line at times. Higuain’s acceleration but, more importantly, his intelligent runs and understanding of space lends Sarriball more substance.
Know more about Sport360 Application