Silva and Kolarov the keys for Man City to unpick Chelsea lock
A defeat for Manchester City at Stamford Bridge would leave them eight points to make up on Chelsea from the final 15 matches of the Premier League season.
This would seem an insurmountable gap and Chelsea should be fancied to lift the title even if they lose to the Citizens. They are guaranteed to be top at the end of January and the last team to not be crowned champions from this position were Manchester United in 2003/04.
Therefore, it is no surprise that Chelsea are as short as 2/11 to win the Premier League this season.
It is a much healthier 13/5 that Man City keep up the pressure with victory at Chelsea and here are three things they need to do to boost their chances of doing so.
Find Silva space away from Matic
Where Arsenal were said to have won their fixture at the Etihad in the last gameweek of Premier League action was the workrate, positioning and discipline of their three midfielders in preventing passes being threaded into David Silva.
Francis Coquelin was especially praised for his performance in that game and Nemanja Matic will almost certainly produce an equally disruptive and restrained role against Man City.
Furthermore, Chelsea may even double up in holding midfielders on the premise that a draw would be sufficient to retain their five-point advantage at the top of the Premier League standings.
Given that Cesar Azpilicueta is expected to play at left-back for Chelsea and isn’t a great attacking threat, starting Silva off the right, with the licence to roam whenever he feels like it and boycott his defensive duties, may be the best option of enhancing his influence on the result.
Play Kolarov at left-back
Aleksandar Kolarov has only started Man City’s two FA Cup matches so far in 2015 and only six Premier League fixtures all season, as he plays second fiddle to Gael Clichy at left-back.
But with a draw arguably not enough for Manuel Pellegrini’s men at Stamford Bridge, picking the more attacking option makes sense.
With Willian not playing like a regular winger either on the Chelsea right, Kolarov will not have someone to directly mark and if he keeps bounding forward it may prevent Branislav Ivanovic doing the same from right-back for the league leaders.
An attacking presence could also be vital from left-back as Pablo Zabaleta will surely have to be more restrained than normal down the opposite flank because of the threat posed by Eden Hazard.
Start shooting accurately again
Across the last two league gameweeks, where Man City have drawn with Everton and lost to Arsenal, the Citizens have fired in 20 shots from inside the opposing penalty box, which is a tally that only Crystal Palace and Liverpool can better in the same period.
Yet they have only hit the target with six.
In the two weeks previous, granted against Burnley and Sunderland, Man City hit the target with 18 efforts.
Having Sergio Aguero sharper after seeing out the 90 minutes against Arsenal and Middlesbrough should help, while if Silva does start from the wider areas, there should be room for Pellegrini to pick Stevan Jovetic to link up with the Argentine.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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