With the final international break of 2019 completed, the focus returns to club football as fellow title challengers Chelsea visit the Etihad Stadium on Saturday evening in what is the first of 11 fixtures for Manchester City between now and the end of the calendar year.
After a disappointing 3-1 defeat against league leaders Liverpool, Pep Guardiola and his side cannot afford to lose anymore ground in the title race, having slipped to 4th place in the table, nine points off Liverpool and one point behind Chelsea and Leicester.
The team news is fairly mixed for the Champions with Bernardo Silva ruled out of the fixture as part of his punishment from the FA in relation to a tweet regarding Benjamin Mendy in September. The Portuguese midfielder was charged with a breach of FA Rule E3 and was handed a one match suspension, £50,000 fine and must also undergo face-to-face education.
Ederson is fit and will no doubt return for City on Saturday. Likewise David Silva, Benjamin Mendy and Rodri are all expected to make their returns. Aymeric Laporte and Leroy Sane remain sidelined with long term injuries, while Oleksandr Zinchenko should be close to a return after minor surgery a few weeks ago.
Frank Lampard will be without Callum Hudson-Odoi due to a hamstring injury however he will have Jorginho available after completing a suspension, and potentially Pulisc, after he rejoined first team Chelsea training following a hip injury.
Head To Head
Saturday evening will be the 164th meeting between the two teams, with City having been victorious in five of the past six meetings including an emphatic 6-0 win over Chelsea at the Etihad last season. City also retained the League Cup after winning on penalties against Chelsea during the 2018/19 campaign. David Silva could make his 21st appearance against Chelsea, whilst Sergio Aguero has 13 goals against the London side - the most by any Manchester City player.
As previously mentioned, Chelsea come into the game ahead of City in the league by just one point after an extremely successful few weeks with five wins from their last five in the Premier League and only one defeat in their last 11 fixtures in all competitions. City however, have struggled with momentum so far this campaign and have two defeats in their last five league games after suffering their third defeat of the season in Merseyside. However, a result against Chelsea could be the perfect opportunity to ignite a run of positive results as we approach the busy December period.
As unpredictable as team selections can sometimes be from City boss Pep Guardiola, you would expect the Catalonian boss to use the 4-3-3 formation which he started with on both winning occasions last season. Lampard will likely stick to his 4-2-3-1 formation which has provided success in recent weeks, with the in-form Tammy Abraham most likely to start up top.
The vastly experienced Martin Atkinson will be in the middle for the match between City and Chelsea for the third time in his top flight career. He will be joined by assistant referees Lee Betts and Constantine Hatzidakis, while Jon Moss will be on the touch line. Andre Marriner and Andy Halliday will be on VAR duties on Saturday evening.
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