Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino confirms major injury blow ahead of Man City clash

Manchester City welcome Chelsea to the Etihad on Saturday as the Premier League title race heats up.

Mauricio Pochettino has confirmed he will be without experienced defender Thiago Silva for this weekend's trip to Manchester City - but the Chelsea boss will welcome back first-choice goalkeeper Robert Sanchez among others.

Chelsea arrive at the Etihad on Saturday evening looking to record a third straight win across all competitions for just the third time this season. They held City to a thrilling 4-4 draw at Stamford Bridge in November but face a huge task in leaving the Etihad with anything this time round.

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Silva has been almost ever-present in the Chelsea back-line this season but was forced off at Crystal Palace on Monday night after blocking a shot. The 39-year-old appeared to have injured his groin and Pochettino confirmed he will miss Saturday's game.

"[Silva has a] minor injury, but he is not available," Pochettino told reporters on Friday. "We need to assess day by day." Chelsea have endured a torrid season with regards to injuries and looked to have been unlucky again on Monday, with Malo Gusto coming off early and Levi Colwill limping after a collision. The pair faced late fitness tests but Pochettino has confirmed both are fit, as is Sanchez who has been absent since December.

"[ Gusto and Colwill] are okay," the Chelsea boss said. "They recovered well. Both available. Robert Sanchez is available. Carney Chukwuemeka twisted his ankle two days ago. He is out."

Chelsea and City came together to produce arguably the best game of the Premier League season so far in the reverse at Stamford Bridge, with the result twisting and turning right up until Cole Palmer's 95th-minute penalty. A game full of drama seemed to get the better of Pochettino, who did not shake Pep Guardiola's hand after full-time.

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The pair have formed quite the rivalry, firstly as managers of Barcelona and Espanyol before more recent clashes in the Premier League. But Pochettino insists the respect for his counterpart will always be there - and the handshake will come after full-time on Saturday.

"Pep is one of the greatest coaches ever," Pochettino added. "Man City is doing really well. They are one of the best teams in the world. If I like [Pep]? As a coach, of course. Your question confuses me. I admire him, of course. "It won't happen again [not shaking Pep's hands]. I was so upset with the referee and I go like an arrow to the pitch to try to fight with the referee. Big mistake!"

Despite welcoming some players back, Chelsea still have a long and problematic injury list. As well as Silva and Chukwuemeka, they will be without Benoit Badiashile, Marc Cucurella, Wesley Fofana, Reece James, Romeo Lavia and Lesley Ugochukwu.

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