Date: 24th September 2021 at 1:30pm
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This weekend could be a crucial one in the course of the Premier League season, with a number of important clashes taking place. 

The first North London derby of the season takes place on Sunday, as Tottenham Hotspur travel to The Emirates to face rivals Arsenal, with both sides in need of a victory.

On Saturday, however, there is an already potentially decisive game in the race for the title, as table-toppers Chelsea host reigning champions Manchester City at Stamford Bridge.

Both sides have started the season strongly, conceding just one goal each, however Thomas Tuchel’s side are ahead of their opponents by three points.

Both Tuchel and City boss Pep Guardiola took the opportunity to give fringe players a chance during Carabao Cup fixtures in midweek, but the importance of the game on Saturday means both bosses will likely opt to field their strongest line ups.

Below is the line up that we think Tuchel will opt for against City on Saturday.

Goalkeeper

All of a sudden, Chelsea have arguably the strongest competition for the starting ‘keeper spot in the division. Kepa Arrizabalaga has impressed whenever called upon in recent months and repeated his UEFA Super Cup penalty heroics with another save in the Blues’ shoot-out victory over Aston Villa on Wednesday. Edouard Mendy, however, will likely return to the starting line up having missed the victory over Tottenham a week ago. The Senegal international has kept four clean sheets so far this term and will be eyeing the golden glove award.

Defence

After utilising the opportunity to hand Malang Sarr a debut and Trevoh Chalobah another useful 90 minutes, Tuchel will revert to his first choice back three for the visit of City.

Andreas Christensen has revived his Chelsea career after a string of superb performances at the back end of last term and during the early weeks of this campaign, and will be called upon as the Blues look to combat their opponent’s attacking threat.

Next to him, Thiago Silva will get the nod. The veteran Brazilian has emerged as a fan favourite among the Stamford Bridge faithful, helped by his goal against Spurs, and his experience and leadership will be called upon.

Another fan favourite, Antonio Rudiger will make up Chelsea’s back line. The German is another player who has improved drastically since Tuchel’s arrival, and his speed and defensive capabilities will be key for his side.

Midfield

In the middle of the park, N’Golo Kante looks set to start after proving just how invaluable he is with his second half performance against Tottenham last week. The Frenchman also started the cup game in midweek but was withdrawn at half-time, meaning he will be fresh enough for the challenge posed by City. Saul Niguez endured another evening to forget against Aston Villa on what was only his second appearance for the Blues, and could arguably have fallen behind Ruben Loftus-Cheek in the central midfield pecking order. The Englishman impressed in midweek and proved he still has a part to play in this star-studded side.

Kante has played 45 minutes in each of Chelsea’s past two matches

Next to him, Jorginho may miss out and be used from the bench with Mateo Kovacic’s current form making him almost undroppable for such a huge game. The Croat has been superb in recent weeks, and his ability to relieve pressure and transition into attack could be crucial.

On the right, Cesar Azpilicueta will be called upon having missed the cup game in midweek. The club captain has lead by example in recent seasons, and will be at the forefront of the Blues’ bid to outdo their opponents. Reece James played the entire 90 minutes against Villa and will likely settle for a place among the substitutes.

On the other side, Ben Chilwell struggled to impress on Wednesday and missed his spot kick, meaning that Marcos Alonso will return to the team. The Spaniard has been in good form since the start of the new season, and possesses a relentless attacking threat that could prove effective against City.

Forwards

Romelu Lukaku will be relied upon to spearhead Chelsea’s attack against a City defence that has been just as stubborn as the Blues’ this season. The Belgian has impressed since returning to the club and will provide a stern test for whichever central defensive pairing City line up with.

On the right of him, Kai Havertz could be recalled. The German scored the opener at Anfield a month ago as well as the winner in last season’s Champions League final, proving he is capable of performing in the biggest matches. Fellow countryman Timo Werner, fresh from a goal in the cup, may feel unlucky not to start but will likely be more use from the bench where his burning pace could stretch City late on.

Lukaku will be hoping to get the better of City’s stern defence

On the other side, Mason Mount will complete the Chelsea line up. The academy graduate was substituted at half-time against Spurs, but came on at the same point in midweek and put in a captain’s performance as he donned the armband. The England international’s performance was reminiscent of his best and he could prove difficult for City to deal with.

With Tuchel’s side having already beaten Arsenal and Spurs and drawn away to Liverpool, a positive result on Saturday would leave the European champions in a strong position to mount a serious title challenge with a favourable run of fixtures awaiting them in the coming weeks.

With such a vast array of talent at his disposal and a depth of talent in all areas that arguably no other club possesses, the German will have a number of big decisions to make ahead of kick-off at Stamford Bridge.

 
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