Ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages, Virgin TV is proud to present the Premier League’s most heavyweight battle of the season so far. In the blue corner stands Antonio Conte’s star-studded Chelsea line-up. And in the other blue corner stands Pep Guardiola’s free-scoring Manchester City team – and you can watch this epic clash live on BT Sport!
Between them, these footballing behemoths have won five of the past eight Premier League titles and, unsurprisingly, both are among the favourites to secure this season’s crown.
“Chelsea have got to be the team to beat,” says Liverpool striker turned BT Sport pundit Michael Owen, while Birmingham City manager Harry Redknapp likes the look of Man City. “If I were putting money down, it would be on City,” says Redknapp. “Pep Guardiola is unquestionably one of the great coaches of our time and he has sorted out the problems that confronted him in his first season at the Etihad.”
In sharp contrast to Guardiola’s issues, Conte pretty much walked on water during his first season at Stamford Bridge. The 48-year-old was named 2016-17 Premier League Manager of the Year after leading Chelsea to the title and a record-breaking 30 wins.
All of which meant the Italian began this season in high spirits, right? Wrong. A disappointing summer in the transfer market angered Conte and his mood soured further when his team lost their first game at home to Burnley. They’ve bounced back since, however, and go into the clash with City looking to secure a victory that will lay down a title marker.
Guardiola’s charges will be attempting to do the same and when you add this intent to the millions of pounds’ worth of talent on display and this fixture’s feisty recent history (last season’s clash at the Etihad featured two red cards and a mass melee on the touchline), it makes Saturday evening’s game a must-watch.
Got that? Good. Now here are 11 fascinating stats you need to know before kick-off…
Last season, Chelsea’s Spanish defender César Azpilicueta became just the fourth outfield player in Premier League history to play all 3,420 minutes of a title-winning campaign. The three other players to achieve this are Manchester United’s Gary Pallister in 1992-93, Chelsea’s John Terry in 2014-15 and Leicester’s Wes Morgan in 2015-16.
With six losses, Pep Guardiola suffered more league defeats during 2016-17 than he had in any other season as a manager.
Ten years have passed since Chelsea barred fans from bringing celery in to Stamford Bridge. The ban came after the FA received three complaints from officials and opposition players about supporters throwing the vegetable onto the pitch during matches.
With a £20 billion fortune, Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour is officially the richest billionaire owner in English football. Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich sits second with a paltry £8 billion in the bank.
In 2016-17, Antonio Conte was the only manager to use all three substitutes in every single Premier League game.
Man City had at least 55 per cent of the possession in each of Pep Guardiola’s first 40 Premier League games in charge.
Chelsea’s midfielder N’Golo Kanté ran 394.95km over the course of the 2016-17 Premier League season – that’s pretty much the distance between London and Newcastle.
Chelsea’s Brazilian star David Luiz has a massive 17.1 million Instagram followers, making him the most followed Instagrammer for either team. Man City’s Argentine striker Sergio Agüero leads the Twitter table with 11.9 million followers.
Man City topped this summer’s spending charts, with a £220.5 million spree. “We needed to change things,” says Pep Guardiola, whose buys included goalkeeper Ederson, full-backs Kyle Walker, Danilo and Benjamin Mendy and midfielder Bernardo Silva.
In 2016-17, Antonio Conte became the first manager to beat Pep Guardiola twice in the same league season.
According to a recent survey conducted by Everyfan, 33% of people who say they’re Chelsea fans have never been to a home game – the highest percentage of any Premier League club.
Watch Chelsea v Manchester City, Saturday, 5pm, BT Sport 1 (CH 531) and BT Sport 1 HD (CH 527)
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