By Niall Clarke
- Chelsea take on Manchester City at Wembley Stadium in the Carabao Cup final
- The Citizens are looking to win their first of a possible four trophies this season
- Citizens won the last fixture between the two sides 6-0 at the Etihad Stadium
LONDON, UK- The first domestic trophy winner of the season will be determined, as Chelsea take on Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final at Wembley on Sunday.
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Chelsea Feeling The Blues
It has been a difficult start to 2019 for Chelsea Football Club. Pressure is mounting on their manager Maurizio Sarri, their owner is banned from entering the UK, Eden Hazard is refusing to sign a new contract, Callum Hudson Odoi wants out and now they have been hit with a transfer ban for two windows. The ‘Roman Empire’ may be crumbling before our eyes and it is going to be a telling few months not only for the manager, but the club as a whole.
If Hazard decides to leave then the Blues will be unable to sign a replacement until the summer of 2020, and by then anything could happen. Failure to make the Champions League will reduce interest from the top players, and if Roman Abramovich sells the club then who knows how they will be financed in the future.
If anything, the Blues need an injection of positivity right now, and winning a trophy will take some of the sting out of their recent wounds. The Carabao Cup may not be as prestigious as the Premier League, the Champions League, the FA Cup or even the Europa League, but it is a trophy worth winning and one that could lay some foundations for Chelsea to build on for the rest of the season. The issue is, they are facing one of the best teams in Europe in the final.
The Daunting Task Ahead
Manchester City are in a position where they are still competing for all four major trophies and Pep Guardiola’s side are capable of winning them all. City have not been the dominant force in the Premier League like they were last season, but they are still arguably the best team in England and coming up against them in a cup final is a daunting prospect for any team, never-mind one that is struggling.
Mentally, Chelsea go into this match facing an uphill battle. It is only a matter of weeks ago that they go thrashed by their opponents on Sunday 6-0 at the Etihad stadium. And whilst Chelsea did keep the ball well and create a few chances themselves, City were unbelievably clinical and exposed many defensive frailties the Blues have.
The form of City’s front line is terrifying. Sergio Aguero is back to his best with 11 goals in his last ten, including a hat trick when these teams last met. Raheem Sterling has eight goal contributions in his last ten games too whilst Leroy Sane has ten. Those are scary numbers and they illustrate just how devastating Pep’s side can be going forward.
Chelsea however do know how to stop them. The 6-0 will no doubt be on the players’ minds when they meet on Sunday, but what the Blues need to look at is their 2-0 win late last year. They effectively shut down City and were the better side in the second. half, showing that when Sarri-ball is flowing, it is almost impossible to stop. The issue is it has not been at all recently.
Sarri-ball or Sorry-ball?
When Sarri was appointed in the summer there was an air of excitement for now only Chelsea fans, but neutrals too. Anyone that saw his Napoli side that pushed Juventus in Serie A, knew that his style of play was not only easy on the eye, it was also effective. Abramovich has longed for a manager that could bring stylish football to Stamford Bridge whilst delivering results, and for a while it looked like Sarri was the man to fulfil that wish.
The signing of Jorginho was seen as a revelation as Chelsea started the season by going unbeaten in their first eleven games, however teams started to figure them out and it is from that point onwards that Sarri-Ball was beginning to fade. Teams realised that marking and pressing Jorginho out of the game meant that the Blues struggled to move the ball up field, and going at their defence, particularly down Marcos Alonso’s side, showed their defensive frailties.
Sarri then came under fire from fans and pundits for not playing N’Golo Kante in his natural position, with many saying that Jorginho is the weak link in the side. The Italian’s refusal to change his system also came to the forefront with the same substitutions and personnel featuring in every match.
Being Chelsea manager is a tough job as a results are expected immediately. The board will settle for nothing but success and recent form has put Sarri under pressure as a result. A loss on Sunday may see the end of his reign at Stamford Bridge, and without the ability to make any transfers his replacement will be in for a tough job too.
We have seen that Chelsea can get the better of Manchester City when they are at their best, but that does not look likely given the way things have gone since the turn of the year.
City have gotten better whilst Chelsea have regressed since 2019 rolled around and that was evident in the 6-0 thrashing the Blues received at the Etihad Stadium. There is no doubt that the previous match will be playing on the minds of both teams, and if Chelsea are not careful it could end up being another thrashing.
This match should be a lot closer as City were very clinical that day, but the odds are very much in favour of a Manchester City victory. The Citizens look strong going into this one and given the comeback victory over Schalke in midweek, they will be heading into the Carabao cup final full of confidence.
The form of likes of Aguero and Sterling is frightening and you would expect one of them to be involved in at least one goal on Sunday. Chelsea’s defence looks suspect at the moment and they could leak a few if they are not careful.
Prediction: Manchester City 3-0 Chelsea
The Carabao Cup Final takes place at Wembley Stadium on Sunday afternoon, kick off 4.30pm UK time
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