Manchester City will host Huddersfield Town at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday, with the champions closing in on two major Premier League records – while the visitors will be desperate for an unlikely point to ease their growing relegation worries.
A win for Pep Guardiola’s side would take them past Chelsea’s Premier League points record of 95, which was set in 2005. Also, two or more goals for the Sky Blues would break another Chelsea record – the record number of goals scored in a single season (103), which was set by Carlo Ancelotti’s double winners in 2010.
David Wagner’s Terriers have rather different priorities. As well as being just three points clear of the drop zone, they face a tough run-in, with clashes against Chelsea and Arsenal awaiting them after their trip to Manchester.
Huddersfield can expect to be disappointed if they hope the champions will go easy on them on Sunday – as West Ham discovered to their cost last weekend when City thumped them 4-1 at the London Stadium.
In fact, City have won a staggering 30 out of 35 league matches this season, losing just one home game along the way after surrendering a two-goal lead against Manchester United.
Going by the Terriers’ recent form, it looks unlikely they’ll stop the hosts achieving win number 31 – the visitors have scored just two goals in the last two months (no, you didn’t misread that), picking up five points out of a possible 21.
City will be without top scorer Sergio Agüero, who will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury. The Argentina striker netted 21 league goals for the Sky Blues this season.
John Stones is also likely to miss the Huddersfield game with a groin injury. However, Stones’ fellow defenders Kyle Walker and Vincent Kompany could return after recovering from injury and illness respectively.
Huddersfield boss David Wagner’s options are limited by three long-term injuries, with Elias Kachunga, Michael Hefele and Danny Williams all sidelined for the rest of the season. Forward Tom Ince is also a doubt, though he hopes to have recovered from a thigh injury in time for Sunday’s clash.
Previous Encounter: Huddersfield Town 1-2 Manchester City (November 2017)
This season is the Terriers’ first in the top flight of English football since they were relegated in 1972, so the only recent league encounter between the two sides was this season’s reverse fixture – which City only narrowly won thanks to a fortuitous late goal from Raheem Sterling.
Huddersfield actually took the lead through a Nicolas Otamendi own goal shortly before half time, but their opener was cancelled out shortly after the interval, as Agüero scored from the spot after a clear foul on Sterling.
Predictably, City dominated the match and should arguably have won by a more comfortable margin, with Agüero and Leroy Sané both coming close. Yet, for all City’s pressure, the home side bravely resisted almost until the end, when the ball rebounded off Sterling’s chest and into the net after Gabriel Jesus had seen his effort saved.
Key Battle: Steve Mounié vs Nicolas Otamendi
If Huddersfield are to have any chance of leaving the Etihad with a point, they will almost certainly need to score a goal. If they are going to score, their goal will most likely come from their top scorer Steve Mounié, who has netted nine goals in all competitions this season.
This modest total is a sobering reminder of what has been the Terriers’ biggest problem all season – finding the net. They have managed this feat just 27 times in the Premier League all season.
The Benin striker will hope City centre back Nicolas Otamendi has one of his more erratic days on Sunday – though even if he does, there will still be the small matter of beating Ederson, one of the Premier League’s most impressive goalkeepers this season.
City are unlikely to be complacent against Huddersfield – partly because Guardiola doesn’t tolerate complacency, but also because they’ll be mindful of how close the Terriers came to denying them victory in November.
However, after scoring 12 goals and conceding just two since losing at home to United, the home side won’t be short of confidence – unlike their visitors, who have failed to score in five out of seven games since their last away win, which was over bottom club West Brom in February.
Sunday’s clash could be a very long and painful game for the Terriers.
Predicted Result: Manchester City 4-0 Huddersfield Town