Ask the Opposition

Ask the Opposition 64: Chelsea (with Andy Seaby from Chelsea Daft)

Manchester City will look to promptly put the frustrating performance at the Emirates behind them as they make another trip to the capital to take on Chelsea.

Despite losing their most recent game, Chelsea remain seven points clear at the top of the league and have been on good form in recent weeks. Both teams will be looking for a win to alleviate pressure from lower down the table – and if it’s anything like the reverse fixture – then we can expect a good game at least.

We spoke to Chelsea blogger Andy Seaby from Chelsea Daft to get his views on the game.

Hi Andy thanks for speaking with us. Chelsea have been leading the pack for a while now and are favourites for the league title. What have you made of your season so far and how confident are you of winning the league?

It’s been a remarkable season really whatever happens when you consider where we found ourselves last season. Especially considering the two humbling defeats against Liverpool and Arsenal this season. For the tactical change made by Conte to have such a positive effect so quickly, it’s fantastic but the title race is far from over.

Conte seems to have captured the hearts of Chelsea fans with both results and his passion seen on the touchline. What have you made of him since his arrival?

He has been brilliant. Chelsea fans have held Jose Mourinho in our hearts ever since he arrived and will always do so (despite the fact he manages the dark side now) and I guess I have always wondered if someone would be able to come in and make the same sort of impact.

Antonio Conte has been a breath of fresh air and his passion for the game is second to none. For me, there is nothing better than seeing your manager feeling every emotion in the game as you do in the stands.

What I like about him is that he is very honest; he isn’t looking to make negative headlines with outbursts against other managers or clubs to try and deflect attention away from his players.
It’s very early days but the signs are that Antonio Conte has started something special here and is looking to build for the future. Could he replicate or better the achievements of the special one? We will have to wait and see but the fact he stood toe-to-toe with him recently to give him some verbal is a clear sign that Mourinho may have met his match finally.

Can you tell us a bit about how the key summer additions to Chelsea have performed this season?

N’Golo Kante is the signing of the season without question. Think of the impact he had last season at Leicester to come to Chelsea and replicate that is fantastic. To think we signed him for almost a third of the price Manchester United signed Pogba for!

I had my doubts over Marcos Alonso when he came in but he has proved me wrong and has been outstanding at left wing back.

Michy Batshuayi has suffered the same fate here as Fernando Torres in the fact that the team is built to play around one man up front in Diego Costa. We play off his strength up front and the fact that he is an all round striker, he can do everything whether it’s create something from nothing, win the ball in the air, take people on, hold it up or link up with our attacking players such as Eden Hazard just as Didier Drogba used to do back in the day which is why Torres struggled to get into the side. Batshuayi will leave this summer.

David Luiz has been a revelation at the back for us since he came back. Playing as the central defender in our back three as if he is playing as a sweeper. Conte has identified his ability to read the game but to also harness his ability with the ball at his feet. But for an indiscretion against Crystal Palace and Christian Benteke on Saturday, mistakes from him have been few and far between so far.

It was a fiery affair when the two teams met earlier this season with Chelsea utilizing the counter-attack and ultimately emerging victorious. Do you think we will see a similar game to that one with it being played at Stamford Bridge?

It’s two title rivals with excellent managers going up against each other to win bragging rights and the fact that we came from behind to beat you, scoring two on the counter attack led to the fracas at the end of the game. It was frustration nothing more.

Both teams have a set way of playing so I expect the game to be played out in similar fashion. Both will look to dominate possession of the ball, attack at every opportunity with an eye on the counter attack. I expect it to be an open and entertaining game.

Who would you highlight as being key players for City fans to watch out for during the game?

David Silva, Kevin De Bruyne, Sergio Aguero and Leroy Sane are the key players that pose danger to Chelsea. Silva because he is a real class act and can create from nothing, Aguero because of his world class finishing ability (if Guardiola thinks there is someone better than him out there then he must be mad!), Sane because he is really beginning to show his quality now in the side and because of the goal threat that all three pose.

I really, really rate KDB and was gutted that he left Chelsea but Jose Mourinho pinpointed the fact that he does not work hard enough without the ball. In a game as important as ours it will be interesting to see if City are able to cope defensively without him in wide areas, or if he becomes a liability. With the ball at his feet he is outstanding obviously.

Finally, please could we have your predicted starting line-up and what you think the final score will be?

I think there are goals in this one, as Chelsea must pick themselves up after defeat to Palace with Tottenham just seven points behind. Dropping more points in this one would give them a chance to close to just four points so I believe Conte will make a change and drop Fabregas to the bench in favour of a two in midfield of Matic/Kante.

My predicted starting eleven will be:

Courtois, Pedro, Azpilicueta, Luiz, Cahill (C), Alonso, Matic, Kante, Hazard, Costa, Willian.

Chelsea to win it 3-2.

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