It's Manchester City's first Premier League game since Boxing Day when they faced Newcastle United at the Etihad, following the postponement of their game against Everton earlier this week.

Gabriel Jesus and Kyle Walker's positive COVID-19 tests threatened an outbreak in the Manchester City camp, but isolation procedures mean that the game against Chelsea should go ahead.

Pep Guardiola will be hoping to begin 2021 on a winning note - if City win both of their games in hand, they will be only one point behind the joint-leaders - Liverpool and Manchester United.

Ahead of City's first game of the new year, City Xtra spoke to Shola from TalkChelsea to discuss the game, Chelsea's players, and their season as a whole!


It’s been while since we saw the arrival of Frank Lampard at Stamford Bridge as manager - but what would you say have been his most notable strengths and flaws as a coach thus far?

I can begin by mentioning his notable flaws. During most games, he has been more of a reactive manager rather than a proactive one. He also picks players who are void of confidence and form - something that has probably cost us vital points this season.

As for his strengths, his man-management is fantastic. The Chelsea camp is always in good spirits and for a club looking to regain dominance, this is paramount. Another notable strength is his philosophy. This may divide opinion, but I am a fan of the way this Chelsea side plays, excluding our recent performances. 

What is left now is for him to find a way to get the best out of his new attacking talents. It will take time, but it is destined to click at some point.


We’re interested to know exactly what’s gone on with Fikayo Tomori - he seemed to start the season in very promising fashion, and has slightly fallen off?

Yeah, it’s quite a disappointment to us Chelsea fans that he has been out of the team so often. It’s a shame - he’s a fantastic defender with incredible potential. His future still lies at Chelsea, but a loan is probably his best option right now.

The form of Thiago Silva, Kurt Zouma, and Antonio Rudiger has kept him out of the side. While Frank Lampard seems to favour Andreas Christensen over him as well.

After such a large summer spend, who would you say have been the hits and misses for Chelsea from that window so far?

I would say Ben Chilwell and especially Thiago Silva have been fantastic so far this season. They have been so consistent and that is the least a fan could ask for from their players. Edouard Mendy has been our best signing by far. To come into a team like Chelsea and have an immediate impact as he has is admirable. 

Hakim Ziyech has also made a huge impact when he plays. His ability to create chances for others is fantastic to watch. 

On the flip side, Kai Havertz and Timo Werner have been clear misses so far. I’m still relatively confident that they will be a success for Chelsea in the future, but they’ve had a poor start.


Let’s talk about Hakim Ziyech in particular - how important is his pending return to the side?

Monumental! We have missed him so much. The creativity, work rate, swagger and experience he brings to this Chelsea side is so important. We will have to give him time to get back to speed, but there is no doubt he’ll give us a much-needed boost for the remainder of the campaign.

What are the main expectation for Chelsea for the remainder of the campaign, and what would be seen by fans as a good season or progress being made?

Closing the gap to Liverpool and Manchester City must be the expectation come to the end of the season. Lampard proposed a three-year plan to his new signings, and for that to come into effect, significant progress has to be made this season. In terms of league position, I believe most Chelsea fans would be contempt with a top two or three finish. 

Last season we probably should have finished 3rd as opposed to 4th, but our inexperience showed through. With the new signings and a year of premier league experience for our younger players, it would be a shame to not finish higher up the table.


How do you see this weekend’s game panning out and could we get a score prediction?

I have huge respect for Manchester City, but not as much as past seasons. City seem more pragmatic this season, so it could end up being a tight affair. Chelsea, however, are in desperate need of the points and will likely have to take the initiative. 

If I were to make a prediction, I would say 2-1 to Chelsea. I think the two sides are quite even talent-wise, but Chelsea’s determination to go out and win the game could shine through.


You can follow Shola and TalkChelsea here: @CfcFanatic / @TalkChelsea

You can follow us for live match coverage here: @City_Xtra