This summer proved to be one of the most historic transfer windows in the history of the Premier League Era.
What made the window so exciting wasn’t just the normal buzz around incoming stars like Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, David Luiz, Claudio Bravo and several others.
However, the majority of the hype surrounding the Premier League this July was in fact the high-profile managers that have all flocked to the English League.
Outlined as the two best managers in the world, Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City squaring off against Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United was supposed to be the marquee title matchup that everyone expected.
Taking into account the managerial acumen of both coaches, coupled with the summer recruitment and squads inherited, it would have been easy to bet on both clubs being at the top of the table come December.
However, as we enter the holiday season, it’s Jose Mourinho’s former club, Chelsea, that are making headlines.
Along with Guardiola and Mourinho, several other high profile managers are making waves as well, with Pochettino’s Spurs remaining undefeated until this weekend, Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool a point off the top, and even Wenger’s Arsenal remaining a healthy contender.
So as we look at this weekend’s fixtures, it’s Conte’s Chelsea that we are forced to keep an eye on.
They take on Manchester City, who currently find themselves just a point back of the Blues and behind Liverpool on goal differential.
Given that only a point and a 2 goals seperate the 2 sides, there isn’t much to split them.
But with Chelsea sitting atop the rest, the real question becomes: Is this an acid test for Chelsea?
The simple answer is no..
The fixture against Manchester City this weekend remains another tough match for the Blues, but not a make or break it moment.
The fact of the matter is, the Blues will be in the top four regardless of the outcome on Saturday.
Furthermore, the fact that this “test” comes in early December, meaning there is plenty of football left to play.
Points lost or won on Saturday can be made up in a matter of one or two games, with no need to panic if either team loses.
We only have to look back to past seasons to see what this Manchester City fixture means to the Blues’ title challenge.
In Jose Mourinho’s first season back in charge of the Blues, Chelsea beat the Citizens twice, yet only finished third in their title bid.
In the following season, the Blues managed to tie City in both fixtures. Yet in that season, they ended up winning the title by a landslide.
So what’s the difference between the two seasons?
In Mourinho’s first campaign, the Blues beat all the top teams but failed to knock off the lower clubs, which hurt their overall point total.
However, in their second go-around, Chelsea were smarter, beating all the teams they were supposed to beat, and doing enough against title rivals to maintain their competitive advantage atop of the summit.
So with all this being said, Saturday is not an end all, be all, for either club. However, it is an opportunity for Chelsea to put some distance in between themselves and the pack.
It’ll be a meeting of the minds, Conte’s passionate, well-organized side, versus Guardiola’s possession-based style of attacking football.
Guardiola is known for holding Conte in high regard, so it’ll be interesting to see how his side approaches a 6-point match such as this.
While it’s anyone’s guess on who wins out on Saturday, it’s important to remember, the only thing that’s at stake is three points.
Both Chelsea and Manchester City remain title favorites regardless of the outcome.