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Manchester City vs. Chelsea: Phil Foden, Cole Palmer, Rodri and the X-factors that could decide the game

Manchester City v Everton FC - Premier League
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It feels like every week the Premier League title race in hanging in the balance, and it no different as Manchester City welcomes Chelsea to the Etihad Stadium on Saturday. City trail Liverpool by two points but with a game in hand. That said, they also can’t look past a Chelsea side coming into the match with confidence after clawing all three points away from Crystal Palace on Monday.

The Blues may not have much to play for in the Premier League table, but they are still in the FA Cup and the EFL Cup finals. Victories are important as Mauricio Pochettino’s squad can win silverware to salvage an otherwise lost season. Getting points will be easier said than done against a motivated City side. Chelsea has already drawn City 4-4 in one of the most exciting games of the Premier League season, so as these two sides square off, what’s there to look out for?

Who shining brighter out of Phil Foden and Cole Palmer?

During the summer transfer window, Manchester City had to make a choice on what to do with Cole Palmer. A talented attacking midfielder, his path to playing time was blocked by Phil Foden and it’s safe to say that Palmer’s decision to move was one that has been a win-win for both teams. Foden is enjoying a season during which he has eight goals and seven assists in Premier League play while Palmer has 10 goals and six assists for Chelsea. Both have been pacing their attacks while showing that England’s future midfield is in good hands.

But in this match, only one team can emerge on the winning side. Foden has been quite a scorer with Kevin De Bruyne back with four goals and two assists while playing alongside the talented Belgian playmaker. After getting back to full fitness during Champions League play, the duo could connect again to sink Chelsea. To do that, Palmer will have to be contained as the Blues have only lost two matches during which Palmer has contributed to a Premier League goal. With Palmer being involved in a goal in 10 of his 23 appearances for Chelsea this season, that’s not a bad stat at all.

Rodri the metronome

It’s sometimes easy to forget Rodri in the middle when watching City operate, unless he’s spraying shots on target. His performance in midfield with a rotating cast of players next to him has been incredibly impressive. With five goals and three assists, Rodri has been doing much more than just being a defensive shield as the presence of inverted fullbacks next to him in some matches allows the Spaniard to get forward and become involved in the attack. Chelsea will need to mind spaces from outside the box as Rodri has scored three goals from outside of the area which gives the defense something to think about.

When a defender has to think about if Rodri is going to shoot, it only means that less attention is being paid to Erling Haaland, Julian Alvarez, and Foden making the City attack that much more dangerous. If Chelsa falls into that trap, it will be quite a long away trip.

How to watch and odds

  • Date: Saturday, Feb. 17 | Time: 12:30 p.m. ET
  • Location: Etihad Stadium — Manchester, England
  • TV: NBC | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
  • Odds: Manchester City -300; Draw +425; Chelsea +750

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