Chelsea facing stern test with visit of prolific City

Published On: September 28, 2017 12:20 PM NPT By: Reuters

LONDON, Sept 28: Champions Chelsea have not enjoyed the best of starts at home this season and face their biggest test yet on Saturday with the visit of free-scoring leaders Manchester City.

Antonio Conte’s side suffered a shock defeat by Burnley on the opening day of the season at Stamford Bridge, and despite a 2-0 win over Everton two weeks later, home fans were left frustrated when Arsenal ground out a 0-0 draw earlier this month.

On the road it has been plain sailing for the Blues, who lie third in the table after picking up three away wins out of three and scoring eight goals in the process.

But when it comes to goals, it is City that lead the way with Pep Guardiola’s side finding the back of the net 21 times already this season and conceding only twice to top the table with 16 points.

There might even be extra motivation for City’s Argentine striker Sergio Aguero to find the net on Saturday, as he is one goal away from equalling Eric Brook’s all-time club record of 177 goals - which has stood for 78 years.

Aguero is the joint-top scorer in the division on six goals, but is closely followed by team mates Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus, on five and four respectively.

One player who is relieved not to be lining up against Aguero anymore is City right back Kyle Walker, who joined the club from Tottenham Hotspur in July.

“Facing him used to be a nightmare,” the Englishman said this week. “I don’t know how many seasons I spent coming up against him but he always seemed to score against us. It was frustrating, he was so good, and having him on the same team for a change is a real bonus.”

Chelsea new-boy Alvaro Morata has also been among the goals, having struck six times in the league since his transfer from Real Madrid.

With the London club announcing the sale of Diego Costa to Real’s city rivals Atletico Madrid on Wednesday, Morata will be relied on even more to spearhead Chelsea’s title defence.

The Spanish 24-year-old scored in Chelsea’s last-gasp 2-1 Champions League win over Atletico on Wednesday, while City were hardly troubled in their 2-0 victory over Shakhtar Donetsk the previous day.

The weekend’s action kicks off with fourth-place Tottenham travelling to newcomers Huddersfield Town, with Spurs looking to win their fourth successive away match.

Saturday also features Crystal Palace against Manchester United at Old Trafford. Roy Hodgson’s side are still searching for their first goals and points of the season.

A day later, Arsenal can keep up their resurgence when they welcome Brighton and Hove Albion in the early kickoff.

Should Arsenal triumph against the Seagulls, Arsene Wenger will surpass Alex Ferguson’s record of defeating 44 different Premier League opponents.

Burnley travel to Goodison Park to take on Ronald Koeman’s struggling Everton side, before Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez faces old club Liverpool in the final match of the weekend on Sunday.

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