N'golo Kante. Manchester City vs Chelsea

Manchester City and Chelsea have had a historic week and would face up in a significant Premier League fixture with a trophy up for grabs for the next two.  

Man City host Chelsea this weekend knowing a win would all but secure a third Premier League title in four years, with three games to spare. While the Londoners need the points to stay ahead of the top four race.

A title win would make it the second trophy of a truly exceptional season in which City have fantastically recovered midway through to storm ahead of the pile.

Pertinently, their opponents Chelsea visit for a dress rehearsal of the UEFA Champions League final on May 29. With the blues vying for half of City’s quadruple dream this season.

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The Stamford Bridge outfit also underwent a stunning reset at the halfway point of the season, with Thomas Tuchel replacing Frank Lampard to take over the latter stages of the Champions League and Premier League campaigns.

Hence, Chelsea have been solid and efficient under the German tactician; they have reached a comfortable top four place, defeated City in the FA Cup semifinal and now aim to dent their treble dream in the UCL showpiece.

It’s a mouth-watering match-up.

England’s Golden Boys 

The Crown Jewels of English football at the moment, Phil Foden and Mason Mount are the front runners on the queue for the PFA Young Player of the Year award.

Mason Mount
Mason Mount’s late goal clinched the 3-1 semi final victory over Real Madrid

With spectacular breakout seasons under their belts, the England internationals recorded a goal and an assist in their semi-final second-leg wins over Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain. 

Mount is a shoo-in to win Chelsea’s player of the year prize – but the incredible success this side have sustained since Tuchel took over has been all about the collective effort. Their 2-0 defeat of Madrid summed Tuchel’s Chelsea up.

At the back, they give little away it is almost cruel to the opposition. This was an 18th clean sheet in 24 matches under Tuchel as Los Blancos managed just one shot on target in the final hour of the match.

That solid base has allowed Chelsea to come out on top in the tight games under the German.

Tuchel refused to assume the upper hand having defeated City in the FA Cup semi-final last month, instead hoping to harness the self-confidence from it. 

“No [it doesn’t give us] the upper hand, but it gives us a good feeling, it gives us confidence. We played the semi on the edge. They are the benchmark and we wanted to close the gap to Man City. We will need the same level of performance again. It gave us belief because it is the highest level you can face.

“We will arrive with self-confidence and the positive energy in Istanbul, and we will arrive in Istanbul to win, not to be one of the participants. We arrive with a clear focus to win.”

Similar journeys of well-funded hard work

City and Chelsea are undoubtedly the most successful English clubs of the modern era, with this year set to make it seven of the last 10 titles between them.

Although Chelsea are looking to close the gap on Man City domestically – emphasized by this weekend’s fortunes – they are the more experienced club on the European stage, with three European titles in the last nine years. They have returned to the final for the first time since winning it in 2012.

By contrast, the Cityzens are preparing for their first taste of a European final, although their current crop are serial winners in England.

Where Tuchel is making history with an immediate return to the Champions League final with a different team, Guardiola is back on this stage 10 years after defeating Man United for his second UCL title at Wembley. The fixture is finely poised between these sides.

Riyad Mahrez
Mahrez scored three of City’s four goals in their 4-1 aggregate win over PSG

Riyad Mahrez and N’golo Kanté were undoubtedly the key contributors to their respective semi-final ties and the former Leicester teammates have come a long way to lead their sides to the showpiece.

Having been born the same year in Paris, the duo didn’t play top-flight football until seven years ago as the Foxes’ miraculous Premier League title win catapulted them into world-class performers, winning titles for club and country.

Tuchel will be desperate to finally get his hands on the big ears, but Chelsea must be much more clinical against Guardiola’s stingy side.

Édouard Mendy has kept eight Champions League clean sheets this season, the most ever by a goalkeeper for an English club in a single season. He is also behind only City counterpart Ederson(18) for Premier League clean sheets (16) but has conceded one less goal than the Brazilian’s 23.

While City have faced the fewest shots in England’s top flight, Chelsea have the fourth-worst conversion rate in the Premier League since Tuchel took charge.

That knife-edge element adds to the intrigue of this weekend’s possible coronation, and the third all-English Champions League final in Istanbul.

Nevertheless, Chelsea showed they are well-equipped to hurt and shut out Guardiola’s team in April’s Cup semi final.

Two sides brimming with talent. Two tactically-astute managers with big-match experience.

In all its spectacle, the first taste of the two-course treat begins this saturday. 


Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin

Chief Editor of the Football Castle, Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin is a football junkie and writer of the beautiful game.


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