Manchester City vs Chelsea: Four players to look out for

Chelsea has reached another FA Cup semifinal, which would be the second cup semifinal this season, having reached and passed the semifinal of the EFL Cup too. Mauricio Pochettino and his men will want to secure a place in the final on this one as well, hoping to still make the season a good one with a trophy lift.
Nottingham Forest v Manchester United - Emirates FA Cup Fifth Round
Nottingham Forest v Manchester United - Emirates FA Cup Fifth Round / Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/GettyImages

Chelsea fans and, perhaps, players would still be reeling from the excitement of putting six of the best past a hapless, relegation-threatened Everton, but they have to reorient themselves quickly for this one, as Saturday’s opponents are far from what Everton is. 

Pep Guardiola’s men are not only the league leaders, but also the defending champions of this competition. Manchester City has many dangerous players, but here are three that Chelsea players should specially look out for and plan against. 

Julian Alvarez

Alvarez may be behind Erling Haaland in the center forward pecking order, but Guardiola has used him in order areas, as well as playing him and Haaland together. This is one of the matches the Spaniard may deploy him alongside Haaland. 

In the thrilling 4-4 draw Chelsea managed against Man City earlier in the season, Pochettino’s strategy was to press the FA Cup champions high up the pitch and win the ball back in the middle and final thirds. This strategy turned out to be incredibly successful, as it put Man City under immense pressure all game. 

Guardiola may decide to deploy those same tactics against Chelsea, especially considering that the Blues aren’t as good as evading pressure from the back, and most importantly, because Alvarez is exceptional at pressing backlines and goalkeepers. 

Should Guardiola decide to go that route, Alvarez would be key, and his finishing and movement would make him a major thorn in Pochettino’s side. 

Erling Haaland

Of course, Haaland is one of the players Chelsea needs to look out for. The seemingly underperforming marksman has already netted more than 30 times this season, but his goalscoring is only one of the things the Blues need to be careful of. 

Haaland’s ability to hold off centerbacks, link-up play, and generally attract attention to himself, makes it easier for his teammates to get space, and therefore, goalscoring opportunities, even when he is not getting shooting chances himself. 

His ability to keep centerbacks pinned is second to none, and it means Man City can easily isolate Chelsea’s fullbacks. 

Kevin De Bruyne

Well…yeah. Enough said. 

Phil Foden

Foden can very easily be Man City’s wildcard even if Chelsea handles every other player on this list. He was superb in the quarterfinal on and off the ball against Newcastle United, which is unsurprising considering his talent. 

Foden is an exceptional ball striker, and can be effective on any flank he is deployed, whether on the left or right. Guardiola may choose between Foden and Alvarez, but either choice poses difficult problems for Chelsea to solve. 

The Man City prodigy would be even more difficult to contain if De Bruyne is on the pitch, as the 23-year-old is also able to craft goal scoring opportunities for his teammates. Though not to De Bruyne’s level of course. 

It will be a very difficult game for Chelsea. But make no mistake, the capital team has not lost to Man City this season, and while the west Londoners have also not won against these opponents, Pochettino has shown that he has an idea how to get a result against his Spanish counterpart.