Manchester City a big test despite back-to-back wins for Chelsea – with Gallagher labelled ‘priceless’


The so-called turning round of the season for Chelsea will be sorely tested tomorrow as the west Londoners travel to face rampant Manchester City in the Premier League.

Back-to-back victories might suggest Chelsea who are still languishing 10th in mid-table, are heading in a more positive direction but reality suggests otherwise.

Previous to those victories, the last, a narrow squeaky late, late victory over lowly Crystal Palace on Monday night saw the Blues concede eight goals in two nightmarish games.

Facing Pep Guardiola’s City side is always a daunting fixture and, in truth, Chelsea fans are not expecting anything other than a comprehensive defeat.

But hope springs eternal and some travelling supporters will be wearing their rose-tinted spectacles in the belief their side can produce an upset.

They will have to do it without Thiago Silva, who sustained a groin injury in the 3-1 victory at Selhurst Park and, at 39, won’t be healing as quickly as the other whippersnappers that don the Blue shirt.

Levi Colwill will replace the veteran Brazil defender.

Malo Gusto will return to right-back after being taken off in SE26 due to tiredness.

Other than Silva, it is expected that the rest of the side that started the match at Palace will cross the white line at the Etihad Stadium.

Head coach Mauricio Pochettino understands that striving for a consistent 90-minute performance week in, week out is some way off, but he’s hopeful of getting there.

He said on the subject: “We need to change. We need to be more consistent, we need to start the game in a different way.

“We need to try and be consistent and to play and perform always in the way we performed against Aston Villa.

“Of course, it’s not easy but that is the challenge. Now to prepare for Manchester City. That is going to be a good test for us before we prepare for the [EFL Cup] final. We are going to prepare in a really good way for the game.”

Of the Palace result, he said: “We deserved to win on the back of the second half, not the first where we were so disappointed. The performance wasn’t great. We were so slow and we were so flat .

“But in the second-half, we started the game how we should start from the first minute. But in the end, I think we deserved the victory.”

Conor Gallagher scored twice and Pochettino is keen to temper the plaudits heaped on the midfielder knowing that the club were willing to let him go.

He said of the 24-year-old: “He’s a player with great commitment with the team. Always trying to compensate for every situation in an offensive and defensive situation and that is priceless to have a player like him.”

Gallagher was expected to leave in the January transfer window.

It’s understood the club told him they would accept a bid of about £50million.

Pochettino said: “What he told me was [he wanted]to stay at Chelsea. But then it’s about him and the club.

“But I’m not suffering with this type of thing. He still has one year more on his contract. But I think that is a matter for him and the club.”


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