(Reuters) – Manchester City will not sit back and let in-form Chelsea dominate Saturday’s clash at the Etihad Stadium and will bank on their attacking instincts to beat the Premier League leaders, manager Pep Guardiola said.
With only a point separating the sides after 13 games, City will hope to end to Chelsea’s seven-game winning streak to jump to the top of the standings, at least until second-placed Liverpool face Bournemouth on Sunday.
“When (Chelsea) have the ball they play a 3-4-3. They do it really well. It’s not easy but it’s a challenge,” Guardiola told reporters on Friday.
“We are going to attack in the best way possible. Hopefully our talented players in the middle and upfront can make the difference.”
Guardiola had nothing but praise for his Chelsea counterpart Antonio Conte as the pair are set to face each other for the first time in their managerial careers.
“It doesn’t matter if it is Serie A or the national team, you realise his strengths. He has started here with maybe not good results, but they have won last seven games, conceding one goal,” Guardiola said.
“That says a lot about how good they are. They were contenders to win the Premier League from the beginning. Now, maybe more than before.”
Having scored three goals in his last five league matches, Pedro’s Chelsea career has revived under Conte and Guardiola, who worked with the winger at Barcelona, said his side will be wary of the fleet-footed Spaniard.
“I hope Pedro doesn’t perform well tomorrow. I have to thank him, he made me a better manager,” he added.
“He works great between the lines, near the box he’s a killer. He is one of the quickest players when it’s time to shoot.”
The City squad were given two days off this week to re-energise ahead of a demanding December schedule, with matches against Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and champions Leicester City.
“I like to give day off to the players when you have a lot of games in a row,” Guardiola said.
“That’s why we had two days off… not only for the game against Chelsea, but also the next ones too. Sometimes when we have four or five or six months playing, sometimes it’s good (time off) for the players, the staff, for physios everybody.”
(Reporting by Shravanth Vijayakumar in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond)