Chelsea and Manchester City face off at Wembley on Saturday looking to secure their spot in the FA Cup final (5:30pm kick-off UK time).
Both sides secured their spot in the semi-finals of the Champions League in midweek, but attention quickly returns to the FA Cup. Chelsea are looking to reach the final for the fourth time in five years, while Man City are still on course for the quadruple.
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Where to watch Chelsea vs Man City on TV:
- UK: BBC One
- US: ESPN+
Scoreline prediction: Chelsea 0-2 Man City
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Chelsea confirmed lineup: Kepa; Azpilicueta, Thiago Silva, Rudiger; James, Kante, Jorginho, Chilwell; Mount, Ziyech; Werner
Man City confirmed lineup: Steffen; Cancelo, Laporte, Dias, Mendy; Fernandinho, Rodri; Torres, De Bruyne, Sterling; Jesus
Timo Werner to get his chance
Over the past few weeks, Thomas Tuchel has been showing signs of finding his favourite XI, with a certain number of players practically ever-present even when the team is rotated.
One of the players that has lot out due to that in recent games is Timo Werner. The German has been an unused substitutes in Chelsea’s past two games, against Crystal Palace and Porto, after continuing his struggles in front of goal. Werner has gone nine games now without scoring across all competitions, since breaking his long Premier League duck against Newcastle in February. In the past two games, Tuchel has opted for the front three of Mason Mount, Christian Pulisic and Kai Havertz, but Werner could get his chance this weekend.
Manchester City are a big opposition for Werner to try and overcome, but this will not just be about the goals, it will be more for his work off the ball and what he can do as part of an attacking unit. The way Man City play while in possession will open up a lot of space for Werner to run into, particularly in Joao Cancelo starts at left-back and drifts into the midfield. It was from opportunities like this that Werner influenced Chelsea’s 2-0 win over Atletico Madrid in the last-16 of the Champions League, breaking with pace to set up Hakim Ziyech – one of his eight assists across all competitions, a high at the club.
Predicted Chelsea XI: Mendy; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Zouma; James, Kante, Jorginho, Chilwell; Mount, Werner; Havertz.
The man that could miss out is Christian Pulisic, who was on the receiving end of a kicking (or 11) in the midweek game against Porto, and might be best coming on from the bench as a fresh option. Kai Havertz and Mason Mount have both been great in recent games, particularly the former against Crystal Palace, and offer dynamic options this weekend.
Chelsea’s midfield is a simpler choice with Mateo Kovacic injured, so Jorginho and N’Golo Kante should continue in their partnership after an exceptional display against Porto. We could also see Andreas Christensen return to the defence, with Thiago Silva potentially dropping to the bench after his 90 minutes in midweek, especially against forwards with pace.
Kepa Arrizabalaga has been the goalkeeper for Chelsea in the FA Cup, but that may also change this weekend, given the opposition.
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Man City to look for control:
Like Chelsea, Man City kept their substitutions to a minimum against Borussia Dortmund in midweek, but they have been rotating for the past few weeks to keep things fresh. One of the players who sat out against Dortmund was Joao Cancelo, but we can expect him to return for the trip to Wembley, as Man City will look to control the midfield – putting Chelsea on the back foot.
The crucial midfield battle may also see Guardiola switch to a 4-3-3, with Fernandinho and Rodri joining Ilkay Gundogan. Fernandinho will be there to sit back and join the defence, keeping the space left by Cancelo to a minimum, while also providing another figure at the back to frustrate Chelsea’s attackers. In Rodri, Man City have a player that can join Fernandinho in frustrating, but also bring the ball out from the back once they move past Chelsea’s high press, remaining calm under pressure.
The Gundogan is the transition between midfield and the attack, able to push further up the pitch both on the ball and off it, thanks to Cancelo taking his space.
Predicted Man City XI: Ederson; Walker, Dias, Laporte, Cancelo; Fernandinho, Rodri, Gundogan; Foden, Jesus, Sterling.
We’re likely to see a change in attack too, with Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus both substitutes midweek (the former only coming on for the final few minutes). The pair don’t seem to be in Pep Guardiola’s good books at the moment, finding themselves pushed out of the team by players not playing in their natural positions – Phil Foden has taken Sterling’s spot in the left, while Bernardo Silva has been the False No. 9. But that’s what can make them even more dangerous to Chelsea as they look to prove themselves ahead of the final run-in. And, let’s remember these are still top class forwards.
Returning to the defence, Aymeric Laporte could replace John Stones as Ruben Dias’ centre-back partner to keep things fresh.
Mount vs Foden: A face-off for England
There is still a lot of action to come in the 2020/21 season, but eyes can’t help but move to the European Championships in the summer. Every good performance is greeting with cries of ‘get him on the plane’ while slumps inevitably lead to discussions on whether a player is good enough for the squad. That’s no different for the England squad, at right-back in particular, but there is also a wealth of depth in attack that could see a handful of talented individuals miss out.
This weekend we will see two attacking midfield talents face off in Mason Mount and Phil Foden, with many believing both should be part of England’s squad this summer, it’s just a case of who starts where.
Given the differences in the way Chelsea, Man City and England play, it’s hard to nail Mount and Foden down into one position for Southgate’s XI. But they do play in fairly similar roles at club level, especially since Mount’s move further forward under Tuchel.
Across the campaign as a whole, Foden does still have the slight upper hand over Mount with regards to their attacking stats, having more touches in the opposition box per 90 and more shots and shots on target. This all comes despite Foden playing largely on the wing for Man City, having to cut into the box as opposed to Mount, in recent months, being one of the most advanced central Chelsea players.
Naturally, Mount has found himself getting into more realistic scoring positions, with an xG of 4.88 in the Premier League this season compared to 3.64 for Foden. However, the pair are level on goals with six each, so Foden has been outperforming his xG more than Mount – though both are doing better than one would expect from the shots they are taking.
So Foden just has the edge for Mount in attacking contributions and this may carry over to England, with the Man City man given the attacking berth while Chelsea’s midfield has to make do with a more reserved central role, where he will be expected to do the defensive work.