Gameweek 31 of the Premier League season concludes with a top-four battle between Chelsea and Manchester City at Stamford Bridge tonight.
Both sides go into the blockbuster contest with a 100 per cent record since lockdown, with Chelsea beating Aston Villa on Sunday and Man City winning two from two so far.
Any hopes that Manchester City would ease up after lockdown with little tangible left to fight for have well and truly been blown away over the first two matches back after the three-and-a-half-month stoppage.
Instead, Pep Guardiola’s side look much more like the team that accumulated 198 points over the previous two seasons than the one that has lost seven league games this term.
City have plundered eight goals without reply in their two outings so far, outclassing Arsenal last weekend before thumping Burnley 5-0 on Monday night despite making eight changes to their starting XI.
The five-sub rule and quick turnaround in fixtures appears to lend itself well to the phenomenal strength in depth at Guardiola’s disposal, and they will be kicking themselves that they have not put themselves in a position to challenge for the title over the closing stages of the campaign.
How ever impressive they have been in the last two games, after 30 matches of the season they are still a whopping 20 points adrift of champions-elect Liverpool, and the match in which they will be dethroned is edging ever closer with each passing week.
The Reds’ goalless derby draw with Everton, coupled with Man City’s hammering of Burnley, means that Liverpool cannot wrap up the title when they face Crystal Palace on Wednesday night, but should they win that match and City drop points at Stamford Bridge then the trophy would be on its way to Anfield.
Having been a distant second to Liverpool for much of the campaign, Man City will at least want to force Jurgen Klopp’s side to wait until the top two meet on July 2, when they could delay the inevitable further.
Man City’s hopes of catching Liverpool are non-existent, but they do still boast some proud records such as biggest title-winning margin and most points in a season which they will hope to do their best to keep hold of.
A trip to Stamford Bridge represents their toughest challenge since lockdown, though, and with both of their games so far coming at the Etihad it will be their first away game since losing the derby to Manchester United on March 8.
Five of Man City’s seven defeats this season have come on their travels, but they have not lost back-to-back away games since December 2018, while no team has scored more goals away from home in 2019-20.
A come-from-behind 2-1 win over Aston Villa on Sunday, courtesy of quickfire goals from Christian Pulisic and Olivier Giroud, ensured that the Blues took full advantage of many of those around them dropping points, moving five points clear of fifth-placed Manchester United.
Leicester City’s goalless stalemate with Brighton & Hove Albion on Tuesday night means that third place is very much in Chelsea’s sights now too, with only four points separating them from the Foxes.
Securing a top-four spot – or top-five should Man City’s European ban be upheld – is the main priority, but a third-placed finish with a young squad would raise a lot of hope for a 2020-21 campaign which will see their ranks boosted by Hakim Ziyech, Timo Werner and maybe others too. – SportsMole