Predicted XI

Covid wrecks Guardiola’s plans – How Man City and Chelsea are set to line up for big clash

Five players will be missing from Pep Guardiola's side for their vital Premier League encounter with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

12:04pm on Saturday 2nd January 2021
Robin Bairner

Chelsea and Manchester City are schedule to do battle at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, though the game remains in some doubt due to Covid-19 cluster in the visitors’ squad.

With five players in Pep Guardiola’s ranks having tested positive for the virus, it is uncertain whether the match will go ahead. If it does, City are set to be at a major disadvantage due to the loss of several players.

City have already seen a clash with Everton postponed due to Kyle Walker and Gabriel Jesus returning positive tests, while three further unnamed members of their squad have since contracted the virus.

“It was four people – [including] two players – the first time and then three more,” Guardiola confirmed. “I don’t think the Premier League allows us to name the players but you will know tomorrow.

“You will see the line ups and three important players not there, so you will know exactly but I’m not allowed to tell you.”

How City will start is, therefore, something of a lottery and will depend on who is available.

Injury does not have a great impact on Guardiola’s plans, at least, with Eric Garcia the sole doubt.

Chelsea, meanwhile, are set to favour Olivier Giroud up front, while Timo Werner will seek to break his poor run from the left wing. As Hakim Ziyech is only just back training, Callum Hudson-Odoi is poised to deputise once more.

Cesar Azpilicueta will continue at right-back as Reece James remains out. The full-back, however, should be available for the FA Cup match against Morecambe next weekend.

With Chelsea fifth in the standings, ahead of City only on goal difference, this represents a golden opportunity to steal a march on one of their rivals for a Champions League spot next term.

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