It's Chelsea against Manchester City at Wembley in the Carabao Cup final. Michael Cox and Alan Thompson preview the action.
"This match will be a good test of Maurizio Sarri’s ability to learn lessons"
Chelsea v Manchester City
Sunday 16:30, Sky Sports Football.
Match Odds: Chelsea [6.0], Man City [1.6], The Draw [4.6]
It's just a fortnight since Chelsea travelled to the Etihad to take on Manchester City and got thrashed 6-0, and therefore this match will be considered a good test of Maurizio Sarri's ability to learn his lessons from that defeat.
More of the same from Sarri
Sarri is not, however, a manager accustomed to changing tactics. He resolutely sticks to his 4-3-3 formation and uses almost exactly the same starting XI every week. Sarri would consider it something of a defeat to be forced into changing his approach dramatically, and therefore it's likely that Chelsea will start with the same approach again.
The major question is in the left-centre midfield role. Mateo Kovacic has been the regular there this season, but Ross Barkley has enjoyed a run of matches recently and scored both home and away in the Europa League win over Malmo. He did make a bad error with a wayward back-header in the recent league defeat to City, but that shouldn't be enough to cost him his place here.
Jorginho will need help from Kante
Kepa Arrizabalaga will play behind a familiar back four of Cesar Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger, David Luiz and Marcos Alonso. Chelsea will continue to play out from the back, with the defenders holding onto the ball to draw City's press up the pitch, before hoping to break through the lines with quick passes. The centre-backs are particularly adept at playing those kind of passes.
Jorginho will continue in the deep holding role, and it will be interesting to see the positioning of N'Golo Kante. In Chelsea's 2-0 win over City earlier in the season he dropped a little deeper to support Jorginho more closely, but there was little sign of this in the 6-0.
Going forward, Pedro Rodriguez will probably start on the right instead of Willian. Gonzalo Higuain looked reasonably bright in the recent league fixture and will lead the line again, looking to combine well with Eden Hazard. The Belgian remains Chelsea's key goalscoring threat, coming inside from the left flank to dribble menacingly at the City defence.
Fernandinho could play hybrid role again
Pep Guardiola's team selection is, as ever, much more difficult to predict - not helped by the fact that both John Stones and Fabian Delph are considered doubtful here.
We can be sure that Kyle Walker and Aymeric Laporte will be two of the defenders protecting Ederson, but there are uncertainties elsewhere. Fernandinho played a hybrid defender-midfielder role against Chelsea recently, and against Schalke in midweek, and could reprise that role with Ilkay Gundogan coming into midfield - if Sarri isn't going to change his approach from the 6-0, why should Guardiola? On the left, Danilo seems likely to start.
Who will Guardiola leave out?
There is, surprisingly, no certain starter in the midfield three. The deep midfielder could be Fernandinho or Gundogan, while the excellent form of Bernardo Silva means neither Kevin De Bruyne nor David Silva are 100% sure of their place. The latter Silva was omitted for the recent league fixture. Guardiola could also decide to include all three, with Bernardo wide on the right - a position he doesn't particularly like, but remains excellent in.
However, Guardiola may want to include Leroy Sane after his excellent impact in midweek against Schalke. With Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero undroppable, that would mean a more conventional 4-3-3 formation.
While there were six goals in the recent fixture, I actually think this one could be much tighter. The other meeting between the sides this season started very patiently without many shots on goal throughout the first half, and with both sides looking to get hold of possession in midfield rather than breaking directly, I can imagine this game being somewhat quieter than the one at the Etihad. I'll back Under 2.5 Goals, at [2.3].
The Betfair Trader's View - Alan Thompson
Just two weeks after suffering a humiliating 6-0 defeat at the hands of Manchester City, Chelsea will face the Citizens again with the season’s first piece of silverware at stake. After their defeat at the Etihad, The Blues were also knocked out of the FA Cup at home by the red side of Manchester in another poor performance. Maurizio Sarri will be hoping that their midweek 3-0 win over Malmo will restore some confidence.
City also won midweek in the Champions League coming from 2-1 down with ten men to register a crucial 3-2 away victory. They are still challenging for all four trophies which is credit to them and they are rightly [1.61] favourites for this. Both Chelsea and Manchester City have impressive records in this competition, City being the current holders and both have won it five times.
However, Man City have been impressive form this season and it’s hard to see them not coming out of this with another comfortable win against a Chelsea team that are low on confidence and still have the recent memory of that 6-0 hammering.
I am going to split my stake backing Manchester City -1 at around [2.0] and Manchester City -1 & -1.5 at anything better than [2.4] on the Asian Handicap and shout for a City win by a margin of two or more.
Michael: Back Under 2.5 Goals at [2.3]
Alan: Back Manchester City -1 & -1.5 at anything better than [2.4] on the Asian Handicap