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Manchester City have gotten the better of Chelsea in seven of their last eight confrontations but on Thursday, Chelsea need the points more than City do and if the words of their manager, Pep Guardiola, is taken wholesale, then City will rest some of their stars ahead of their FA Cup clash with Newcastle on Sunday. These are the four duels that could determine the winner:

N’Golo Kante v Phil Foden

Kante is back refreshed and ready to tackle any opponent while Foden, with three goals in the two City games after the restart, has shown he can fill the boots of the departing David Silva. Foden is intelligent with great movement, with an outstanding shot, especially his left foot, while Kante will hope to help the Chelsea backline keep a tight lid on goal scoring chances. This is a duel between a wise head and a young fledgling – it will be great to watch.

Jorginho v Kevin De Bruyne

When City came back from a goal down against Chelsea last November, Jorginho was culpable for the first goal by giving the ball away near the centre and not being able to recover. If Lampard restores the Italy international to the starting 11, he will be keen to curtail De Bruyne’s movement as the former Chelsea player has a habit of scoring against his former side. With 18 assists and nine goals, the Belgian maestro will need close monitoring.

Olivier Giroud v Aymeric Laporte

Giroud is the in-form Chelsea striker, with three goals in his last four matches, but in Laporte, he will be up against a defender that matches him physically and faster over the quick sprint. Giroud’s goals have ensured two consecutive league wins, but City are miles away from Liverpool because Laporte has been injured for a majority of the campaign. The French defender has featured in nine matches this season–eight wins and one draw. That is how important he is to City.

Christian Pulisic v Kyle Walker

Six goals and two assists in 16 league games tell the story of how Pulisic, despite an injury-ravaged first season in the Premier League, has affected Chelsea’s fortunes. The American was the change needed last Sunday from the bench to help his team defeat Aston Villa and that showing merits a starting place. Against Walker, who is quick and also very offensive, Pulisic must be at his trickiest and bravest to get an inch off the City defender. Whoever wins this duel will point to the winner of the match.

Managers’ Words

“When you play against City, there are benchmarks for you,’ he explained. ‘We have to say as a club like Chelsea that we want to be at that level – competing for first and competing in cup competitions.” – Frank Lampard, Chelsea Manager

“Chelsea is a prestigious game for us, but Newcastle is a final. The team selection will depend on the physical condition of the players. We take a look at what will come next, not just the game against Chelsea.” – Pep Guardiola, Manchester City Manager

Recent form: Chelsea [W-W-W-D-L]; Man. City [W-W-L-W-W]

Head to head

23/11/19 PRL Man. City 2 – 1 Chelsea

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24/02/19 LEC Chelsea 0 – 0 Man. City

10/02/19 PRL Man. City 6 – 0 Chelsea

08/12/18 PRL Chelsea 2 – 0 Man. City

05/08/18 COS Chelsea 0 – 2 Man. City

Prediction: Chelsea 2-2 Man. City

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