It is fair to say that Manchester City are the Premier League champions elect, this afternoon though they will take on the soon to be outgoing trophy winners as Antonio Conte’s Chelsea come to town. A win for Pep Guardiola’s men would move them a step closer to a second domestic trophy this season while heaping more pressure on the Blues.
The past week has not only seen City earn their first silverware of this campaign but also we have laid witness to the landscape of the top four changing, that is because Chelsea now find themselves on the outside looking in with their current fifth place standing in the table.
Not only that though the West London outfit are five points behind their crosstown rivals Tottenham, yes they may have a game in hand but when that game comes in the way of today’s opponents then it is one team they would not want to face right now.
Manchester City made Arsenal look ordinary not once but twice in the past seven days, first up it was the Carabao Cup Final win at Wembley seven days ago but also a league win at the Emirates on Thursday night, both times they eased to a 3-0 victories.
However, the worrying thing is that they never really needed to get out of second gear in which to do so. The first of their wins you could point to the fact that Arsenal were rank bad but even with City purring in North London just three days ago it still looked like a training exercise at times as they strolled to victory in what were bleak conditions.
You would imagine that Chelsea will offer a sterner test this afternoon, quite frankly they have to. After defeat to Manchester United last weekend the pressure is undoubtedly on Antonio Conte and his man to deliver a result this afternoon.
A draw would be respectable as a mere handful of clubs have managed to take points off of Manchester City but it would do little to help them in the race for a Champions League spot next season, earning a point at the Etihad would leave them four points behind Tottenham in fifth.
If they were to pick up a point then it would at least be one more than what they earned in Manchester last weekend when they traveled to Old Trafford to face United. After taking the lead through Willian they were quickly pegged back by Romelu Lukaku.
England international Jesse Lingard scored a second half winner, although the biggest talking point from that particular 45 minutes was the fact that Eden Hazard was subbed off with a quarter of an hour to go, a decision that had Chelsea fans and neutrals alike scratching their heads as to why.
Antonio Conte said after the game that the Belgian forward had run out of energy, but you get the feeling that deep down it is a decision that the former Italy and Juventus manager regrets. just how costly could their failure to get anything from that game prove to be at the end of the season.
They did however think that they earned a late equaliser through Alvaro Morata, only for the former Real Madrid striker to see his effort ruled out for offside. A decision that Chelsea will rightly take umbrage with after it was an incorrect call from the officials.
If Chelsea do finish outside the top four then it is an inevitability that Conte and Roman Abramovich will part company come the end of the season, although with the body language that he has been displaying as of late perhaps even a return to Europe’s top club competition might not be enough.
It has been a relatively meek defence of the Premier League trophy this season, last time around they came to the Etihad and ended up winning 3-1 in a game that saw City finish the game with nine men. If I was giving a prediction today I reckon we may well see the opposite scoreline this afternoon. Home win and more misery for the Blues.