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Saturday 22 July 2017

Manchester City v Chelsea talking points

Manchester City and manager Pep Guardiola (pictured) face Antonio Conte's Chelsea on Saturday
Manchester City and manager Pep Guardiola (pictured) face Antonio Conte's Chelsea on Saturday

Manchester City host Chelsea in a battle of two of the Premier League's biggest clubs on Saturday. Here Press Association Sport looks at five talking points ahead of the duel between Pep Guardiola's City and Antonio Conte's Blues.

GUARDIOLA v CONTE

Of the managerial elite which has gathered in England, Pep Guardiola and Antonio Conte are the two who played at the highest level, most notably for Barcelona and Spain and Juventus and Italy, respectively. Guardiola and Conte have carried their success into management. This is the first Premier League clash of their teams and is an early chance to land a blow to a direct rival.

MIDFIELD SUPREMACY

The battle for the central ground between City's Fernandinho and the restored and revitalised Yaya Toure versus N'Golo Kante and Nemanja Matic of Chelsea could go some way to deciding the contest. Kante and Matic have developed an understanding which has allowed them to thrive in recent weeks. Toure's characteristics, in particular, will test it.

SEVEN AND OUT?

Chelsea have won seven straight Premier League games, scoring 19 and conceding once, with wins over Hull, Leicester, Manchester United, Southampton, Everton, Middlesbrough and Tottenham. Spurs showed for 44 minutes that Chelsea can be hemmed backwards and City are capable of that. This will be the biggest test yet of Chelsea's challenge and they have lost six of their last eight league games at City.

CLEAN SHEETS

City have kept just two clean sheets in their last 16 Premier League games. Chelsea have kept six in the last seven games, with Christian Eriksen's goal for Spurs the first they had conceded in more than 600 minutes. While David Luiz, Gary Cahill and Cesar Azpilicueta have gelled in a back three, City's lack of cohesiveness in defence and regular lapses could be their undoing this season.

DE BRUYNE DEVILMENT

Kevin De Bruyne has demonstrated at Wolfsburg and now at City, who paid £55million for the Belgium playmaker, that Chelsea let him leave too hastily. De Bruyne, creative and clinical, has the chance to prove it once again against his former employers. Frank Lampard scored in this fixture two years ago and did not celebrate. De Bruyne will likely leap for joy if he can beat Belgium team-mate Thibaut Courtois in the Chelsea goal.

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