MANCHESTER – It has been a long two weeks for Pep Guardiola, left to stew on Manchester City's defeat to leaders Liverpool, while his players were away on international duty.
The 3-1 loss at Anfield left City in fourth place, trailing Juergen Klopp's side by nine points with little room for further error.
The increased pressure can be felt heading into Saturday's return to action when in-form Chelsea visit the Etihad, buzzing with youthful confidence after a run of six straight victories in the league.
Chelsea manager Frank Lampard, who ended his Premier League career with a season at City, has won plaudits for the way he has got the best out of home-grown players.
Striker Tammy Abraham and midfielder Mason Mount spent last season on loan in the second-tier Championship but have become England internationals after Lampard gave them the chance to shine in the top flight.