EPL Preview: City travels to Chelsea sans Mendy, Aguero

Manchester City, in the absence of the injured duo Benjamin Mendy and Sergio Aguero, faces its first and arguably toughest test when the Premier League leader travels to champion Chelsea on Saturday.

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte is unhappy that, while City played at home on Tuesday, his side has a short turnaround after arriving back in London in the early ours of Thursday morning following its success in the Spanish capital.   -  AFP

Manchester City, in the absence of the injured duo Benjamin Mendy and Sergio Aguero, faces its first and arguably toughest test when the Premier League leader travels to champion Chelsea on Saturday.

Read: Aguero has done nothing wrong, insists Guardiola

Mendy, France’s 23-year-old full-back, has been in fine form for City since his £50 million ($67 million, €57 million) pre-season move from Monaco.

But Thursday saw City announce Mendy will undergo surgery in Barcelona on Friday after he ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during last weekend's victory over Crystal Palace.

 

"Bad news guys -- I'll be joining Injury FC on loan for a couple months with ruptured ACL... but will be back soon & stronger hopefully," tweeted Mendy.

City manager Pep Guardiola is under pressure to make good on a huge amount of pre-season spending that saw him splash out more than £130 million on three full-backs alone by bringing major silverware back to the Etihad Stadium.

 

The Spanish manager, speaking before the full extent of Mendy's injury was confirmed Thursday, said: "We have Danilo, (Fabian) Delph and (Oleks) Zinchenko who can play there so we will see as we go along."

And to compound Mendy’s loss was the announcement of Aguero’s injury, with the Argentine striker involved in a horror crash in Amsterdam after the taxi he was travelling in careered onto a pole. Thankfully, Aguero suffered only a broken rib and is expected to be out of action for a month.

Both City and Chelsea, three points behind both Guardiola's men and second-placed Manchester United, go into Saturday's game on the back of midweek Champions League victories over Shakhtar Donetsk and Atletico Madrid respectively.

'Penalised'

But Chelsea manager Antonio Conte is unhappy that, while City played at home on Tuesday, his side has a short turnaround after arriving back in London in the early ours of Thursday morning following its success in the Spanish capital.

Atletico Madrid 1 Chelsea 2

"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)."

United will be huge favourite to beat basement club Crystal Palace at Old Trafford on Saturday.

CSKA Moscow 1 Man United 4

Far from soaring, the Eagles have lost all six of their league matches so far this season and have still to score their first top-flight goal of a campaign where they have already sacked Frank de Boer and brought in former England boss Roy Hodgson -- a boyhood Palace fan -- in a bid to arrest their slump.

Tottenham Hotspur, fresh from seeing England striker Harry Kane score a hat-trick in a 3-0 Champions League win away to APOEL Nicosia, is at surprise high-flyer Huddersfield while Watford will look to consolidate its position in the top half at West Bromwich Albion.

Elsewhere West Ham, with just Bournemouth and Palace below it in the table, will hope to ease the pressure on manager Slaven Bilic when it welcomes Swansea to the London Stadium, while Southampton is away to Stoke.

The pick of Sunday's three Premier League matches sees Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez up against former club Liverpool, which this week drew 1-1 away to Spartak Moscow in the Champions League, at St James' Park in a fixture long known for producing high-scoring encounters.

Arsenal and Everton, fresh from Europa League duty, are at home to Brighton and Burnley respectively.

Fixtures (1930 IST unless stated):

Saturday: Bournemouth v Leicester, Chelsea v Manchester City (2200 IST), Huddersfield v Tottenham (1700 IST), Manchester United v Crystal Palace, Stoke v Southampton, West Brom v Watford, West Ham v Swansea

Sunday: Arsenal v Brighton (1630 IST), Everton v Burnley (1845 IST), Newcastle v Liverpool (2000 IST)

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