Stamford Bridge Stalemate on the Cards

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Chelsea entertain Manchester City in Sunday's big game in the Premier League.

Frank Lampard Pep Guardiola

Manchester City’s trip to Chelsea provides the main dish of the Premier League’s two-course Sunday offering.

With the early clash between Burnley and Fulham postponed, the focus is largely on the top half of the table for the first Sunday of 2021.

Frank Lampard will be more than happy to tear down the Christmas decorations at this point after a flop of a festive period for his Chelsea team, while mystery surrounds who will be available for Manchester City after their recent Covid issues.

Depleted City still a Match for Struggling Blues

City boss Pep Guardiola says he will be missing five players for their visit to Stamford Bridge as a result of the coronavirus outbreak at the club. Gabriel Jesus and Kyle Walker are the only confirmed names who will sit out the game, and it remains to be seen who will make up the visitors’ starting XI.

Despite those doubts, City are the 13/10 favourites to get the better of Chelsea after a recent strong run of form, winning four of the last six to move level with Sunday’s opponents on 26 points. Those wins have largely come about thanks to an improved rearguard action from Guardiola’s men, who have now kept 13 clean sheets in all competitions, more than any other side in Europe’s top five leagues.

They’ll certainly prove a tough nut to crack for a Chelsea side that doesn’t often draw a blank, the Blues having only failed to score in five of 24 matches this term. The Londoners could welcome forward Hakim Ziyech back from a spell on the sidelines to bolster their ranks and will hope they can produce a repeat performance of the 2-1 win they enjoyed against City when the teams last met in June.

A win would certainly be a huge boost to Lampard, who is starting to come under pressure after a run of one win from six matches. Chelsea have struggled against their fellow top-10 rivals this season and a win looks like a big ask. Given both sides recent issues, a draw at 5/2 wouldn’t be a bad result, with 1-1 priced at 19/4.

Unadventurous Magpies Easy Prey for Foxes

Newcastle produced a backs-to-the-wall performance to end 2020 with a goalless draw against Liverpool, but that’s unlikely to appease an increasingly restless fan base. The Magpies are winless in five in all competitions and the supporters are growing tired of manager Steve Bruce’s cautious approach.

Bruce is unlikely to let the shackles off against a Leicester side with the joint-best away record in the Premier League, the Foxes winning six out of eight on their travels. That form on the road is reflected in Leicester’s price of 20/29 for the win and they have enjoyed their recent meetings with Newcastle, winning last season’s fixtures by a combined score of 8-0. Brendan Rodgers also appears to have Bruce’s number, winning half of his engagements with the north-east native, and anything other than three points would be a disappointment for a Leicester side with ongoing top-four ambitions.

With Bruce’s men having now gone three games without a goal and Leicester recording three clean sheets on the road this season, a Foxes win to zero at 29/20 offers value.

*All odds correct at time of writing

Chris is broadcast and written journalist with a wealth of experience, across a number of different sports. As well covering football on the radio, he is a regular online and print contributor on the likes of rugby union, American Football and Formula One.

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