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 Guardiola’s side of the tactical battle with Maurizio Sarri ahead of this encounter.
FERNANDINHO IN MIDFIELD
Much was made of Fernandinho’s role in City’s 3-1 victory over Arsenal when he operated as a centre-back but regularly stepped into midfield. However, he’s unlikely to reprise that role against Chelsea. Arsenal’s slow build-up play meant exposure in the transition was not a massive risk and so City could benefit from the extra man in midfield.
Chelsea boast more pace on the counter and have the central midfielders to exploit gaps in the back-line. Aymeric Laporte playing as a makeshift left-back means the back four may be a little lopsided with Kyle Walker being the more attacking full-back. Fernandinho will therefore focus on shuttling wide to cover for the right-back or attempt to pick up Eden Hazard when he drifts into central areas.
BIG GAME BERNARDO
City’s win over Liverpool in January was one of great intensity and Bernardo Silva played a huge role in it. The diminutive Portuguese has proved he’s capable of some big performances, covering a massive 13.7 km on that occasion as well as providing an assist and recovering possession 10 times. As such, Guardiola will be tempted to play him in midfield, possibly ahead of Kevin De Bruyne who is only starting to get back to his best.
Jorginho has been key to Chelsea’s play and naturally a target for oppositions. Suffocate the Italian playmaker and you can negate the team’s threat. Bernardo may just be the perfect man for the job, not only to keep Jorginho quiet, but also hurt the visitors in the transition.
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