Manchester City ’s defensive resilience in the
absence of the injured Benjamin Mendy faces
its first and arguably toughest test when the
Premier League leaders clash with champions
Chelsea today in London.
The 23- year- old France full -back has been in
fine form for City since his £ 50 million pre –
season move from Monaco .But Thursday saw
City announce Mendy will undergo surgery in
Barcelona after he ruptured the anterior
cruciate ligament in his right knee during last
weekend’s victory over Crystal Palace .
Both Man City and Chelsea go into today’ s game
on the back of midweek Champions League
victories over Shakhtar Donetsk and Atletico
Madrid respectively .
But Chelsea manager Antonio Conte is unhappy
that, while City played at home on Tuesday , his
side have a short turnaround after arriving
back in London in the early ours of Thursday
morning following their success in the Spanish
“I think we are a bit penalised ,” said Conte.
“Man City is a really strong team . They are
scoring a lot of goals (21 in six Premier League
games alone ), they are in a good moment of
form and we have to prepare well ( for ) this
game because it is very important .
“There is the international break (after this
weekend),” the Italian added. “My surprise is
for this because there is the time (to play the
game later ).”
Meanwhile, Conte has challenged Eden Hazard
to repeat his dazzling performance against
Atletico Madrid when Chelsea face title rivals
Man City today.
Hazard was in fine form on Wednesday as
Chelsea became the first English team to win at
Atletico with a 2 -1 success in the Champions
The 26- year- old was making only his second
start of the season in Madrid.Now Hazard is
poised for his first Premier League start of the
campaign following three substitute
appearances after surgery on his ankle.
With Premier League leaders City looking
strong, Blues boss Conte wants Hazard to help
the champions draw level on points with the
leaders at Stamford Bridge .
“If he was able to play one game like the last
game against Atletico Madrid it means he ’s
ready now to play with continuity ,” Conte told
reporters on Friday .“ For us he’s an important
player. Last season he had an important
season, he played very well, he performed as a
top player. I ’m very happy for him. ”
City’s swaggering start to the season has won
plenty of admirers, with Pep Guardiola ’s free-
scoring side installed as favourites to dethrone
Chelsea.While Guardiola is a rival today, that
didn’t stop Conte expressing his admiration for
the Spaniard’s purist principles.
“I think every coach must have an own style of
football. For sure I have great respect for Pep.
I think he’s the best ,” he said.“ Every coach
tries always every day to take more
information, new ideas and then try to
elaborate with your thoughts. I think Pep is a
really good coach. I like to watch his game.”
Guardiola will be without Sergio Aguero after
the City striker sustained a broken rib a car
crash on his day off in Holland on Thursday.