Thomas Tuchel’s side have seen a number of players suffer with Covid and injuries in recent weeks as they have slumped in form to fall ten points behind leaders City.
Chelsea have also played two Carabao Cup semi-final legs in the last fortnight against Tottenham while City have had two free midweeks, with Tuchel’s squad stretched further with the departure of Eduoard Mendy for the African Cup of Nations.
Ben Chilwell is out for the season, while Tuchel confirmed on Friday that Reece James will miss the City trip having failed to recover from injury that has troubled him recently.
Trevoh Chalobah is another defender who has been ruled out by Tuchel, while their back line will be further rocked by news of a Covid absence for Andreas Christensen.
Giving a team news update ahead of the City trip, Tuchel said: “No news which is good news. Trevoh will be out, Reece James out, Ben Chilwell out.
“We have one new positive Covid test with Andreas Christensen so he will be out of the game.”
Tuchel has been boosted by the return of full-back Kenedy from his loan to cover Chilwell’s injury, but still indicated that his selection will be influenced by fitness and injury restrictions at the Etihad on Saturday when asked how Chelsea can catch City in general.
He said: “With every player we get back, we get back belief, experience and alternatives. We have N’Golo [Kante] on the bench in the last match, Thiago Silva on the bench, but they joined the group with one training session.
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“We have a good squad with a fantastic mentality and once you have one training session you’re in the squad. But we are not at our 100 per cent. We need to overperform to catch Man City and be at the top of the Premier League and to do that you need everybody. So we are hoping to get players back.
“But when you get the news that Andreas has Covid after he comes back from injury and play so strong, it’s a setback for everyone mentally because you get a player back and then it’s no. It’s like catching a fish.