Manchester City and Chelsea clash at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday in the standout game of this weekend’s Premier League schedule. It’s the champions-elect against last season’s title winners.
Both clubs have upset the established order in English football at the beginning of this century as a result of huge investment. However, City and Chelsea come into this game in contrasting form.
Back to back 3-0 wins against Arsenal have handed Pep Guardiola his first piece of silverware in England and established that formidable 16-point lead at the top of the Premier League. Meanwhile, Antonio Conte’s Chelsea are in the middle of a tough run of games and defeat at Old Trafford has left them in fifth with their top four hopes in doubt.
Let’s throw recent results out the window though and pick a best XI from the two teams in blue.
Goalkeeper – Thibaut Courtois
Ederson has been one of the signings of the season for City playing a key role in their relentless march towards the title through his shot stopping and impressive ability to play out from the back. The perfect keeper for Guardiola.
Funnily enough, Ederson is not Brazil’s number one goalkeeper. He plays back up to Roma’s Alisson Becker.
Although Courtois has not had his best season, Chelsea’s big Belgian net minder edges this one. He is still one of the best keepers in the business, but could be off to Real Madrid in the summer if the rumours are to be believed.
Defence – Kyle Walker, Vincent Kompany, Andreas Christensen, Cesar Azpilicueta
Eyebrows were raised at the £50m City paid Daniel Levy at Tottenham for right-back Kyle Walker but the 27-year-old has been excellent this season.
Kompany may have had his injury issues in recent season hampering his game time but he is one of the best central defenders to have graced the Premier League. He is arguably one of the few leaders of the game around these days and he still could have a pivotal role to play in the run-in.
Despite Christensen’s fatal error against Barcelona, he has been very solid in the midst of a very vulnerable Chelsea defence. The same can be said about the versatile Spaniard Azpilicueta or ‘Dave’ as he is known as around Stamford Bridge.
Midfield – Fernandinho, Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva
A flexible 4-3-3 that can be turned into a fluid 4-5-1 is a good option. This is where the runaway league leaders become very dominant.
Fernandinho has been an unsung hero this season for Guardiola but he is a crucial cog in City’s relentless winning machine. N’Golo Kante just misses out here.
De Bruyne and Silva are essentially what Xavi and Iniesta were for Guardiola’s great Barcelona team. Perhaps, not at the same level as the Catalan duo but still it is high praise. These two players are what really make City tick and most teams have failed to curtail their influence.
De Bruyne is favourite to win PFA player of the season while David Silva is now one of the greats for City.
Forwards – Eden Hazard, Sergio Aguero, Leroy Sane
That is a frightening front three. Hazard remains one of the brightest stars in the Premier League and there is a good chance that Chelsea will have to fend off Real Madrid in the summer who may target him as their next Galactico.
Aguero is on a hot streak of form at the moment and the Argentine is one of the best strikers we have seen in the Premier League.
Sane deservedly won man of the match in City’s 3-0 win at the Emirates and the German is one of the best young players in world football. He could be one to watch out for in this summer’s World Cup.