The second of three quickfire meetings between Chelsea and Manchester City sees the Blues welcome the English champions to Stamford Bridge for Thursday’s Premier League battle.
Graham Potter’s side accepted a point in a 1-1 draw with Nottingham Forest last time out, while the visitors were held to their own two-goal stalemate by Everton.
Chelsea’s medical team continue to work overtime on long-term absentees N’Golo Kante and Armando Broja – who have since been joined by Reece James and his latest knee problem, which could rule him out for up to a month.
Wesley Fofana is unlikely to make the cut here either, but there is optimism over Ruben Loftus-Cheek – who has now returned to training from a calf injury – and Ben Chilwell, although the latter may have to wait until the trip to Fulham next week. Edouard Mendy, meanwhile, is still absent with his shoulder issue.
A recall to the midfield should be in order for Mateo Kovacic – who may very well take the place of Jorginho rather than the emerging Denis Zakaria – while Christian Pulisic can feel confident of holding his place on the left flank.
In contrast, the Etihad treatment room is down to just two players in Aymeric Laporte (back) and Ruben Dias (hamstring), but the former will be assessed and could be in with a chance of earning some minutes here.
Argentinian World Cup hero Julian Alvarez returned off the bench against Everton and should be one of several players in contention for recalls to the first XI alongside Kyle Walker, Joao Cancelo, Phil Foden and Ilkay Gundogan, with Guardiola holding off on the changes until the 87th minute of Saturday’s match.
Only a few days after claiming that Kalvin Phillips returned from the World Cup overweight, Guardiola performed a sensational U-turn and hailed the England midfielder’s physique as he returned to the Etihad bench, but his “perfect body” – as Guardiola labelled it – should not be enough to earn him a start.
Chelsea possible starting lineup:
Kepa; Azpilicueta, Silva, Koulibaly, Cucurella; Kovacic, Zakaria; Sterling, Mount, Pulisic; Aubameyang
Manchester City possible starting lineup:
Ederson; Walker, Stones, Akanji, Cancelo; Gundogan, Rodri, De Bruyne; Silva, Haaland, Foden
We say: Chelsea 3-2 Manchester City