Guardiola under pressure as City look to bounce back against Chelsea - GulfToday

Guardiola under pressure as City look to bounce back against Chelsea


Pep Guardiola looks to put Manchester City’s stuttering campaign back on track with victory over Chelsea. Reuters

Pep Guardiola  is looking to put Manchester City faltering campaign back on track after the defending champions were defeated by Liverpool last week.

Guardiola had a full week to ponder and plot a renaissance as his player were on national duty for Euro qualifiers.

The 3-1 loss against Livrepool left City reeling in fourth place, trailing Juergen Klopp’s side by a huge margin of nine points with little room for further error.

Another litmus test is awaiting City and Guardiola both as they host in-form Chelsea, who are on coming into the Saturday’s game on the back of six straight wins.

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard, who ended his Premier League career with a season at City, has won plaudits for the way he has got the best out of home-grown players.

Striker Tammy Abraham and midfielder Mason Mount spent last season on loan in the second-tier Championship but have become England internationals after Lampard gave them the chance to shine in the top flight.

Yet Chelsea’s run of form needs to be put in context - all six of their consecutive wins were against sides they were expected to beat and they have lost on the two occasions they have faced big-name opposition this season — at Manchester United on the opening day and at home to Liverpool in September.

This game, therefore, will be an indicator of just how far Lampard has gone in creating a top-four side. For City, however, it is an encounter in which they simply cannot afford to slip-up.

Failure to beat Chelsea could leave Liverpool with a double-figures advantage over the champions and it would take a major slump in form for Klopp’s men to let that sort of lead slip.

Chelsea need no reminders that when the pressure is on, City have a habit of responding in devastating fashion.

In the corresponding fixture last season, City’s Argentine striker Sergio Aguero grabbed a hat-trick as the Londoners, then under Italian Maurizio Sarri, were hammered 6-0 after conceding four goals in the openig 25 minutes.

Saturday’s game at the Etihad is the standout fixture of the weekend but the match between West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur at the London Stadium earlier in the day is also generating plenty of interest given the managerial change at Spurs.

Less than a year after his dismissal from Manchester United, Jose Mourinho is back, replacing the sacked Mauricio Pochettino at Spurs, looking to improve a team that is languishing in 14th place.

Liverpool are up against their former manager Roy Hodgson when they take on Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park while the pressure is on Arsenal’s Spanish boss Unai Emery, who badly needs a win at home to 19th-placed Southampton.

The pick of the promoted teams, Sheffield United, who are riding high in fifth place, face Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Newcastle United defenders Florian Lejeune and Fabian Schar are available for Monday’s Premier League clash against Aston Villa, manager Steve Bruce said on Thursday.

French defender Lejeune has not featured for Newcastle since tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in April, while Schar has spent a month on the sidelines with a knee injury.

“Lejeune and Fab Schar have trained all the past two weeks so they come into reckoning in that respect,” Bruce told a news conference.

“The big one is Flo because he’s been out for so long. He’s done everything - played in games, got minutes under his belt on the training ground. Now he’s ready to go and the same for Fab Schar, too.

“As long as they come through the next two - three days unscathed, both come into contention and that can only be a good thing.”

Defender Ciaran Clark is a doubt for the trip to Villa Park after picking up a knock while away with Ireland and skipper Jamaal Lascelles has been ruled out until the New Year with a knee injury.


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