The Blue Derby – Chelsea vs Manchester City
Get ready for the Intensity Derby. Sorry, Jurgen and Mauricio. You will have your day in the sun soon.
The Premier League resumes this weekend with high-flying Chelsea making the trip to Manchester City. In truth, this will really be Pep Guardiola vs Antonio Conte. The suave Spaniard vs the indefatigable Italian. Conte is where Guardiola used to be – and it is not just the top of the league. The former Juventus manager is now revered as a tactical mastermind, as his switch to 3-4-3 has drastically transformed the Blues to the must-beat team in the league now. Make no mistakes. Guardiola is not a novice or a yesterday man when it comes to systems and formations. He has also toyed with the same 3-4-3 in intriguing variants. The former Barcelona boss even went 3-2-2-3 in one game.
He will have spent the last week figuring out how to counter Conte’s set-up. Chelsea are cohesive, organized and occasionally easy on the eye. Theya re the most settled team in the league and you can put your mortgage on Conte picking the same players that saw off Tottenham last weekend at Stamford Bridge. So expect to see Eden Hazard and Pedro Rodriguez roaming in central areas behind Diego Costa. It usually will tempt full-backs to track them, but that opens up the wings for Victor Moses and Marcos Alonso to raid. Guardiola needs to come up with a plan to deal with all those movements and peg Chelsea back. But one thing that might work in his favour, is the hard, high press. Pochettino employed it last week, but fatigue became a major enemy. Guardiola favours the tactic too and will target Conte’s three-man defence, attempting to shut down any build-up from the back.
I would have labelled it unstoppable force vs immovable object. But City have not been brilliant lately and their manager has his work cut out this weekend.
No pressure then, Senor Pep.