Chelsea welcome Manchester City to Stamford Bridge in the Premier League on Thursday night for their first home game of the New Year.
After a 1-1 draw against Nottingham Forest on Sunday, Chelsea return to the capital and face second-placed Man City, with both sides needing the points for different reasons.
Graham Potter needs three points to close the ten point gap to the top four, while Pep Guardiola’s men have the chance to reduce Arsenal’s lead at the top of the Premier League.
Confidence levels at Chelsea have been up and down this season and it could be a bad week for the Blues should they lose both games against City, with Potter’s side heading up north on Sunday for the FA Cup third round at the Etihad Stadium.
The Chelsea boss has called for the players to use Stamford Bridge as one of the motivators to produce a top level performance on Thursday.
“We have to play well ourselves, that is the key,” said Potter on how they will try to cause Man City problems amid their record of winning 11 of their opening 16 league games this term.
“Then you have to understand the quality they have and try to stop it. It sounds simple when you condense it down but the reality isn’t so straightforward.
“They are a top team but we can cause them a problem, we can be ourselves and try to play well and put them under pressure. We need to use Stamford Bridge and then see what happens.”
As Chelsea look to get back to winning ways, Potter will need to ensure he picks the most equipped side to face Man City.
So how could Chelsea line-up against Manchester City?
Possible XI: Kepa, Chalobah, Silva, Koulibaly, Azpilicueta, Jorginho, Kovacic, Cucurella, Mount, Havertz, Sterling
Thursday’s encounter could see Potter switch to a back three to counteract the threat of the City attack which will be a combination of the options they have at their disposal, including the likes of Erling Haaland, Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, Bernardo Silva and Riyad Mahrez.
This may land Trevoh Chalobah a spot back in the starting side and Cesar Azpilicueta moving to right wing-back in Reece James’ injury absence.
Denis Zakaria came off in the second half of their draw against Nottingham Forest and could be replaced by Mateo Kovacic in a midfield pivot, with the Croatian making his first minutes on New Year’s Day following his World Cup return.
Raheem Sterling could start in attack against his former side after scoring Chelsea’s only goal against Forest, while Mason Mount and Kai Havertz will be keen to retain their spots in the side.
Edouard Mendy is unlikely to be fully fit to be in contention to start, while Ben Chilwell hasn’t returned to full training yet and is expected to until after their match against Fulham.