Two teams looking for improvement clash at Stamford Bridge on Thursday (3pm ET; 8pm GMT), as Chelsea take on Manchester City. Can the hosts bounce back after their rather labored performance away at Nottingham Forest? Can the visitors resume winning ways after being surprisingly halted by Everton? This Premier League match preview aims to find out.
For Graham Potter’s men, a corner appeared to have been turned when they beat Bournemouth in rather simple fashion the day after Boxing Day, but they were not able to build on that effort last time out, despite taking an early lead through their joint top scorer Raheem Sterling.
The Blues were far from convincing when in the lead last time out, and once they had been pegged back by a Forest team that was on top for much of the game, they never really threatened to win the game. That is worrying ahead of a game against a Manchester City team that can be rampant.
Then again, City weren’t great last time out either. They too took the lead but were pegged back. Despite having plenty of time to alter the score and confirm the three points, Pep Guardiola’s title hopefuls, who are now seven points behind league leaders Arsenal, failed to make the breakthrough.
What you can say about Thursday’s visitors is that they did create quite a bit, and, on another occasion, they probably would have won with a bit to spare. The same cannot be said for a Chelsea team that struggled to not only create chances but dominate the game against relegation strugglers Nottingham Forest.
Finding goals hard to come by
The Blues find themselves in ninth position right now. That’s not the end of the world, and it is still relatively early days, both in terms of the season and in terms of Graham Potter’s tenure. They are in the top half, sure, but they are not seriously involved in the battle for the top four yet, as they are seven points below Manchester United in fourth.
The main reason for their relative struggles? A lack of goals. Potter’s men have scored 20 times in their first 16 games of the 2022/23 Premier League season. That’s the lowest of any team currently in the top half. In fact, in terms of goals scored, they’re the 12th best in the division. Hardly becoming of a team that won the Champions League 18 months ago.
Do they really have an out-and-out scorer? That’s the question. Sterling and Havertz both have four each in the league, while Mason Mount has three, but given that each of their rivals have a main goal-getter who is now into double figures, such numbers are a bit worrying. City’s Erling Haaland has scored more league goals than each of Chelsea’s three top scorers combined. In fact, the Norwegian hitman has scored the same number of Premier League goals than Chelsea full stop this season.
Even at Stamford Bridge, the Blues haven’t exactly excelled offensively. They have scored a respectable 12 goals in seven games, though again, all of those considered main top-four rivals have scored far more home goals this term. They have scored just three in their last three at home.
Citizens back on top
For a while, it looked as though Chelsea had begun to establish a level of dominance over Manchester City. Three times during 2021 did the Blues beat Guardiola’s men, but City have wrestled back control of this fixture since, winning each of the last three renewals.
Not only have Thursday’s visitors won each of their last three against Chelsea, but they have done so having not conceded a goal. When the teams last met, in the league cup back in November, Manchester City won 2-0 at home. When the pair last clashed at Stamford Bridge, in September of 2021, Manchester City won by a goal to nil.
Visitors hard to go against
Yes, Manchester City faltered against Everton last time out, but they created a far better impression than Chelsea did when drawing away at Forest.
There is a difference in both creativity and goal-scoring ability between the two teams, and that could be the difference on Thursday.
Not only have Chelsea struggled to score at times at home, but they have not exactly been the most creative either. In fact, they are comfortably in the bottom half when it comes to expected goals for at home, creating an average of 1.32, which is modest at best. In contrast, Manchester City are behind only Arsenal in terms of xG for on the road. They average 1.53. It’s not a massive difference, but it’s noticeable and goes some way to explaining why City have scored more goals on the road than the hosts have at home.
Chelsea’s lack of both creativity and goals is a problem, and on that basis, they are worth opposing, though we should not assume that they’ll get battered. After all, they haven’t given too much away, and when they have lost, they’ve done so in low-scoring fashion, such as their 0-1 hem defeat to Arsenal back in November.
At the end of the day, the Citizens have developed a habit of getting the job done on the road, even if they have not been able to run away with it. Less than four goals have been scored in 75% of their away wins, as well as in six of their eight away games in total, and there is plenty to suggest that they can grind it out in relatively low-scoring fashion here. So for this CFC vs MCFC preview, this is the sole selection when thinking of our betting predictions and tips:
- Manchester City to Win & Under 3.5 Goals @ +145 with Bovada.