After more than three months Chelsea will return to Stamford Bridge, as they prepare to welcome Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City in the marquee fixture of Premier League gameweek 31.
Both teams head into the mouth-watering encounter with a 100 % win record since the resumption of the league, with Chelsea getting the better of Aston Villa on Sunday, while Manchester City brushed aside Arsenal and Burnley.
Frank Lampard’s men, who had to come from a goal behind to beat Aston Villa 2-1, are four points behind third-placed Leicester City, and two points above fifth-place Manchester United, having played a game less than both the Foxes and the Red Devils.
On the other hand, Manchester City plundered eight goals without a reply in their two games since the resumption of the Premier League, thrashing Arsenal 3-0 last week, before hammering Burnley 5-0 on Monday night.
For Thursday night’s game, Chelsea prodigy Callum Hudson-Odoi still remains doubtful after missing Sunday’s clash due to an ankle injury. However, midfielder Jorginho looks all set to make his Premier League return after serving a two-match ban.
Meanwhile, Manchester City will miss the service of their star goalscorer, Sergio Aguero, who could potentially be out for the rest of the campaign after picking up a knee injury against Burnley.
So, who are the five players to look forward to in the upcoming high-voltage Premier League clash.
#5 Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)
With Sergio Aguero out, Raheem Sterling will have the added responsibility of making the difference against Chelsea. The 25-year-old is enjoying one of the most profitable seasons of his career, terrorizing the opposition defences for fun.
In 25 league appearance this campaign, the former Liverpool star has found the back of the net on 12 occasions, contributing to 18% of the total goals scored by the Citizens in this season’s Premier League.
In 13 previous outings against the Blues, the Englishman has scored thrice and provided two assists, and Manchester City supporters will be hoping for a Raheem Sterling masterclass to make it three out of three since the league’s return.
#4 Olivier Giroud (Chelsea)
Olivier Giroud scored the match-winner against Aston Villa on Sunday to help Chelsea come away with all the three points.
After enduring a long and frustrating season for the Blues, Giroud seems to have earned manager Frank Lampard’s trust, with Chelsea also extending his contract for another season.
Giroud can play the role of a difference-maker on Thursday, given his good record against the Citizens. The Frenchman has scored four goals across all competitions against Manchester City, and he would certainly like to add to his tally on Thursday.
#3 Phil Foden (Manchester City)
Manchester City’s young and upcoming star, Phil Foden has made the headlines for all the good reasons lately, especially after scoring a brace against the Burnley on Monday.
Regarded as one of the most promising players in the continent, Foden is well on track to become the next big star for the Citizens.
Despite starting in only 13% of Manchester City’s Premier League fixtures this season, the youngster has caught everyone’s attention with his close control and sublime first touch.
Foden has all the attributes to be a difference-maker in such a huge clash against Chelsea. The 20-year-old would surely like to send a statement to his manager that he is ready to rumble against the big boys also.
#2 Christian Pulisic (Chelsea)
Chelsea’s American superstar Christian Pulisic was the real game-changer in their narrow 2-1 win against Villa on Sunday.
After coming on in the second half, Pulisic turned the game on his head and scored Chelsea’s equalizer.
The gifted forward became the youngest Chelsea player to score a Premier League hat-trick during the Blues’ 4-2 win against Burnley back in October.
Although since the start of January, Pulisic has spent most of his time on the sidelines after suffering an abductor muscle injury.
#1 Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)
All eyes will once again be on Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne, as the Belgian has re-defined the role of a playmaker with his extraterrestrial abilities. De Bruyne has been tearing apart Premier League defences this season, and Frank Lampard’s men could become his next victim.
The former Chelsea man, who has already provided 16 assists in the Premier League this season, also created 25 big chances for his teammates, accompanied by a crossing accuracy as high as 26%.
Pep Guardiola will be hoping for De Bruyne to shine once again, as the Belgian heads back to Stamford Bridge after being shifted out of the Chelsea squad back in 2013.
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