Chelsea to lose further ground in title race

It's a top of the table Premier League clash at the Etihad on Saturday lunchtime. 10 points separate leaders and last season's champions Manchester City from second place Chelsea, who booked their first opportunity of the season to win another trophy in midweek by reaching the final of the EFL Cup. The hosts have won their previous 11 league matches in a row, and whilst that will doubtlessly come under threat this weekend, they can make it a full dozen. Read our preview here:

Cancelo your plans

Pep Guardiola's men are utterly rampant at present, and you have to go back to the end of October to see them drop points domestically. That said, they haven't looked quite as formidable in defence since Christmas, conceding three against Leicester City, and even allowing Swindon Town to strike back in the FA Cup third round. In the back four, Kyle Walker returned on the right last Saturday, and his presence should help shore things up, especially with his tendency to sit more narrowly when the opposition have the ball. On the opposite flank, João Cancelo is having a fantastic campaign, minimising the absences of Oleksandr Zinchenko and Benjamin Mendy (for vastly differing reasons) in the process. His creativity and vision as an inverted full-back have also disguised the lack of focal point up top.

Dominant Mateo

Thomas Tuchel's prospects were boosted by the reappearances of Thiago and N'Golo Kanté on Wednesday, which will be very timely for the remainder of 2021/2022, especially in Eastlands. The latter did look rusty in the 3-0 aggregate win over London rivals Tottenham Hotspur, but his talents are required in the kind of fixture where his teammates won't expect to enjoy the majority of possession. Fellow midfield dynamo Mateo Kovačić scored a breathtaking goal in the 2-2 draw with Liverpool recently, and his overall efficacy has never been higher in a Blues shirt, but he and Jorginho will have their work cut out to win back possession from their opponents in a lighter shade.

The clean dozen

A win for the hosts would increase the gap to 13 points, and even should Liverpool win their game in hand, it would remain in double figures. At this juncture, it seems unlikely that they'll be toppled, though a psychological blow could be struck if the reverse outcome occurs on Saturday. bet365 have odds of 3.40 for a Man City win with both teams scoring.

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