Things are getting uglier for Chelsea with every passing day despite a blistering start under Maurizio Sarri. Although they have made it to the Round of 16 of the Europa League, a humiliating 6-0 defeat to Manchester City earlier this month jeopardised Sarri’s future at the Stamford Bridge. The Blues were knocked out from the Emirates FA Cup last week at home against Manchester City but must regroup themselves before clashing heads with the Citizens for today’s Football League Cup final.
Chelsea have defeated Pep Guardiola’s men at the Bridge back in December. But they hit a significant low in the past couple of months and are clearly the underdogs when these two sides lock horns for the season’s first silverware. Man City have been ruthless in recent weeks across all competitions and should be aiming to retain their supremacy at the Wembley Stadium.
Chelsea are sweating over the fitness of Kepa Arrizabalaga who is a major doubt with a hamstring strain. Pedro [stomach cramps] and Davide Zappacosta [illness] will go through late fitness tests whereas Marco van Ginkel, Gary Cahill and Daniel Drinkwater remain sidelined with their respective knee, lower back and calf injuries.
Claudio Bravo is the only long-term injury absentee for City with a calf problem. Benjamin Mendy [meniscus], Gabriel Jesus [hamstring], Fabian Delph [illness] and John Stones [groin] are also unlikely to make it to the squad for tomorrow’s contest.
Chelsea: Caballero; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Luiz, Emerson; Jorginho, Kante, Barkley; Willian, Hazard, Higuain.
Manchester City: Ederson; Danilo, Kompany, Laporte, Zinchenko; Fernandinho, David Silva, Gundogan; Sterling, Sane, Aguero.
Despite a dismal 2-0 defeat to United, the Blues will rely on the misfiring Eden Hazard once again. On-loan Gonzalo Higuain must step up on such occasions to stretch his stay in Premier League beyond this season. However, hopes will be high on teenager Callum Hudson-Odoi who is enjoying regular minutes at a senior level. The winger found the net against Malmo on Thursday night and is capable of making an impact late in the game.
Star-studded Manchester City have plenty of names who could be considered as the game-changers. Hitman Sergio Aguero scored a hat-trick in their Etihad encounter whereas Raheem Sterling found the net twice while operating from the flanks. Leroy Sane would be a threat too from the left side. But their rhythmic moves will be orchestrated by Fernandinho from a deep-lying midfield role.
Chelsea win: 19/4
Manchester City Win: 16/5