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Chelsea mini-revival faces City reality check

premier league crystal palace v chelsea
Two late goals earned the Blues a 3-1 victory at Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Monday to back up a superb 3-1 win over Aston Villa in an FA Cup fourth-round replay

Chelsea’s revival faces the ultimate test on Saturday when Mauricio Pochettino’s team attempt to put the brakes on Manchester City’s express train.

Two late goals earned the London side a 3-1 victory at Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Monday to back up a superb 3-1 win over Aston Villa in an FA Cup fourth-round replay.

Chelsea remained in 10th place, 20 points behind leaders Liverpool and 18 adrift of champions City, but those two results have changed the mood at Stamford Bridge.

Pochettino was coming under increasing fire as he struggled to blend a youthful but hugely expensive squad.

A 4-1 drubbing at Liverpool at the end of January was stark evidence of how far Chelsea are from challenging at the top of the table, but they may go to City with added belief.

City boss Pep Guardiola will certainly be wary of a side coached by Pochettino — a manager he often found troublesome when Pochettino was in charge of Tottenham Hotspur.

“Now it is Chelsea. They played really well against Aston Villa and yesterday, in the hotel, we watched the game against Crystal Palace,” Guardiola said after his team’s Champions League last-16 win over FC Copenhagen on Tuesday.

“They played with huge personality. Now we recover and focus on Chelsea.”

CITY INJURIES

City did not emerge unscathed from their trip to Denmark with Jack Grealish and Bernardo Silva suffering injuries that are likely to rule them out against Chelsea while defender Josko Gvardiol is also out with an ankle ligament injury.

Injuries rarely throw City off track as they proved when coping with the absence of Erling Haaland and Kevin de Bruyne and with that duo back in harness few will be expecting a Chelsea surprise at The Etihad Stadium on Saturday evening.

That said, City could find themselves under more pressure as Liverpool kick off the weekend action at Brentford on Saturday knowing a win will put them five points clear of the champions.

Third-placed Arsenal can also climb above City on Saturday if they win at Burnley.

Arsenal showed in an away 6-0 hammering of West Ham United last weekend that they are very much in the title race and they should notch a fifth successive league wins against a Burnley side fighting to escape the relegation zone.

Fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa are only seven and eight points behind Liverpool and technically still outside contenders for the title.

Realistically, however, they appear set for a scrap for fourth place that could also involve Manchester United.

Tottenham host Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday while Villa are at Fulham while Manchester United, six points behind fourth-placed Tottenham, travel to Luton Town on Sunday.

Bottom club Sheffield United will seek to build on their win over Luton as they host Brighton & Hove Albion on Sunday while third-bottom Everton face a crucial clash against fellow strugglers Crystal Palace on Monday.

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