Chelsea could not have asked for a better time to play Premier League leaders Manchester City, who they trail by 10 log points heading into Saturday’s 2.30 meeting at the Etihad Stadium.
Disrupted by a number of Covid-19 cases recently, City had to make-do without coach Pep Guardiola and his assistant Juanma Lillo for their 4-1 FA Cup win over Swindon.
Another assistant Rodolfo Borrell then took charge of the team and said afterwards that they expected to have Guardiola back this week - it is yet to be confirmed though.
While Guardiola’s preparation has been less than ideal, his counterpart Thomas Tuchel couldn’t have had a better run-in to the match.
Out to snap City’s 11-match winning streak in the 50th Prem meeting between the two sides - the league leaders having won 15, Chelsea 27 and seven matches ending in a draw - the Blues enter the match on the back of a 1-0 (3-0 aggregate) League Cup semifinal win over Spurs.
Confidence couldn’t be higher in the Blues team with captain Cesare Azpilicueta warning City that midweek goalscorer Antonio Rudiger is honger for more.
He says of the German: “He’s getting very dangerous, scoring goals. He is a great threat on set plays...
“Toni has developed really well since he arrived. He has had a very big impact. Now he’s even a big threat on set plays, which is amazing. The aggression that he has, the way he plays with the ball, it’s a pleasure to have him in our team.”
A threat at set plays, coach Tuchel’s team will look to have other threats too.
The coach says: “They [the players] are open to some [tactical] adjustments that give us more options and maybe makes us a bit more unpredictable.”