By Tim Harrison
It’s another crunch weekend, as Chelsea host champions Manchester City while trying to maintain a fingertip grip on the league’s top places.
City’s superiority in every department means Pep Guardiola will be quietly confident of a Stamford Bridge win, but the Blues can raise their game if they’re in the mood.
The issue is how often that mood takes them.
Breaking down the defence of noisy neighbours Fulham, under returning favourite Claudio Ranieri, proved challenging; the Whites spurning several chances to earn a draw.
Only Kepa’s agile goalkeeping, in his finest game in a Chelsea shirt, kept the clean sheet.
Defeat to Tottenham at Wembley proved the wake-up call many players clearly needed, but it also showed that when Jorginho is neutralised by close marking in midfield, Chelsea struggle.
Guardiola will play to his own strengths while keeping half an eye on attempting to contain Jorginho and N’Golo Kante, who also had an excellent game against Fulham, spurred on by a new contract which now sees him earn £42,000 a day.
Morrie Sarri is looking at January’s transfer window with renewed interest. He knows he will lose a few players, notably Gary Cahill with all his experience.
But he’s increasingly mindful that his double-barrelled rising stars Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who scored against Fulham, and Callum Hudson-Odoi, who scored against PAOK, need game time if they are to flourish... and be part of Chelsea’s future.
The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and unless specifically stated are not necessarily those of Hammersmith & Fulham Council.
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