Chelsea prepare for one of their toughest matches of the season when they travel to Manchester City on Sunday afternoon.
Antonio Conte will be looking to secure a much needed three points against Pep Guardiola’s men, who have lost only one Premier League fixture during this campaign.
Ahead of the eagerly anticipated showdown at the Etihad Stadium, here are five things to look out for:
#1 Change in attack?
It is fair to say things are not going well for Alvaro Morata with the Spaniard still looking for his first league goal since the turn of the year. Conte opted to start Morata during the defeat at Manchester United last Sunday but he failed to get into the game or cause any problems for United’s defence. January recruit Oliver Giroud moved to Stamford Bridge from the Emirates Stadium to earn more game time and the Frenchman might just get his wish against City.
#2 Top four chase
By the time Chelsea kick off on Sunday, fourth-placed Tottenham could be five points clear of their London rivals in the table. Mauricio Pochettino’s men will host relegation-threatened Huddersfield Town on Saturday afternoon, so a favour from David Wagner’s side will be needed. Even more worryingly for Conte, third-placed Liverpool could go seven points clear, if they can beat Newcastle United on Saturday evening, so points are needed for the men in Blue.
#3 Will Conte change his midfield again?
One area in which Conte has struggled to find consistency is the midfield area. N’Golo Kante has been the only regular starter in the middle of the park with Danny Drinkwater, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Cesc Fabregas and occasionally, Ross Barkley sitting alongside the Frenchman. Drinkwater replaced Fabregas in midfield at the weekend but the Englishmen failed to make an impact. It remains to be seen if Conte changes things up once again or sticks with the same side in order to find that consistency.
#4 Team reaction
As mentioned, Chelsea suffered a costly defeat away at United last week and Conte now needs a reaction from his players. Even if another defeat follows, Conte, at the very least, needs his team to produce a worthy performance with their big game against Barcelona coming up. They travel to Spain for the second leg of their Champions League encounter in two weeks time, more poor performances leading up to that match will only dent the players’ confidence even further.
#5 Red hot opponents
Manchester City are nailed on to win the domestic double this season and they could add the Champions League trophy to their cabinet if things go well in Europe. They recently dismantled a sorry Arsenal side, on two occasions, beating them 3-0 in the League Cup final and dispatching them by the same scoreline in the league on Thursday night. Sergio Aguero is in red-hot form, Vincent Kompany is producing his best form in over two years and Gabriel Jesus is back from injury. Let’s not even mention the magnificent duo of David Silva and Kevin de Bruyne.