Chelsea travel to Manchester City in hopes of keeping title race alive

Football – Premier League – Chelsea v Manchester City – Stamford Bridge, London, Great Britain – September 25, 2021 Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola shakes hands with Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel after the game Action Images via Reuters/John Sibley

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MANCHESTER, England, January 13 (Reuters) – Chelsea will travel to Manchester City on Saturday, knowing that victory is essential if they are to keep pace with the ruthless Premier League leaders this season.

City’s 11th consecutive league win – a final 2-1 win at Arsenal on New Year’s Day – gave the champions 10 points ahead of second-placed Chelsea, while Pep Guardiola’s side were on course to retain the title with another skyrocketing points total.

It is the fifth time that City have had 11 or more consecutive wins in the competition, although not all have been lost to Chelsea ahead of their trip to the Etihad Stadium, as three of the previous four such runs have ended in a home game.

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Thomas Tuchel’s European champions have struggled to match their early season form of late, having taken one win and four draws in their last five league games.

The German is fully aware of how difficult it will be to improve City’s lead and stop the front-runners from taking four Premier League titles in five seasons.

“They are ruthless,” Tuchel told reporters after his side’s 2-2 draw against Liverpool in Chelsea’s last league game.

“They know what it takes to produce these top seasons over and over again. We are next in that race, but it’s a big gap. We might need more than one season to get Man City.”

DERBY DUEL

Two teams whose fortunes have improved in recent months meet on Sunday when Arsenal travel in fifth place to Tottenham Hotspur, who are looking to win three consecutive home leagues against their north London rivals for the first time since August 1961.

Sixth-placed Spurs are now two points behind Arsenal with two games on their hands and were unbeaten in their eight league games under new boss Antonio Conte, the best unbeaten start for a Tottenham manager in the club’s history.

But the underperformance in both stages of their League Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea over the past two weeks told Conte all he needed to know about how much work there is to do.

“There is an important gap, an important difference, there is a big job to do to fix the situation,” said Conte of the gap in quality between Spurs and Chelsea after last week’s first leg defeat at Stamford Bridge.

“If we think we’re close [to Chelsea] we’re not on the right track.”

Arsenal are in a similar situation to Spurs as their recent improvement under Mikel Arteta stuttered with a home defeat to Manchester City before being knocked out of the FA Cup by second-rate Nottingham Forest in the third round last weekend.

FALTERNG UNITED

Seventh-seeded Manchester United will travel to Aston Villa on Saturday to turn their faltering season around. Results have improved under interim coach Ralf Rangnick, but performance remains mixed.

United were lucky enough to pass Villa in the FA Cup on Monday, with Cristiano Ronaldo giving a rallying cry to his underperforming side this week.

“We know we don’t play the best football, but we have a lot of games to improve,” he told Sky Sports. “I don’t want to be here to finish sixth or seventh or fifth. I’m here to try and win.”

After a winning streak of six games in November and December, third-placed Liverpool – who are 11 points behind City but still have one game in hand – have not won in their last three league games before Brentford’s visit. on Sunday.

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Reporting by Peter Hall; Editing by Ken Ferris

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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