Leicester City will look to bounce back to winning ways on Saturday when they travel to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea in a Premier League encounter.
Maurizio Sarri would be hoping to ride the momentum wave that Chelsea have gained through the win over Manchester City. The reality though, is not as ideal, with the Blues struggling to get over the line in other games, which has seen them fall adrift of the title race and are somehow clinging to fourth on the table, thanks to Arsenal’s unprecedented defeat at the hands of Southampton.
There are obvious problems at Chelsea, but none more so than what Leicester are going through right now. On a streak of three games without a win, their record for the season is now into red, having lost more games than they have won.
The 1-0 defeat to Crystal Palace last weekend would hurt the most because those are the matches that Claude Puel knows his side has to win with ease to establish themselves as an outside contender for the European Qualification places.
When the two teams last met each other at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea and Leicester played out a 0-0 draw, with the Foxes seeing Ben Chilwell given an early shower. We take a closer look at the two squads.
Team News & Tactics
Victor Moses, Alvaro Morata and Gary Cahill are doubtful for the game against Leicester. Regardless of their fitness levels, they are unlikely to be starting on Saturday. Andreas Christensen is out for the remainder of 2018.
The back four will remain the same again, with Antonio Rudiger and David Luiz in central defence, while Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso will be guarding either flank.
In midfield, N’Golo Kante and Jorginho should return to the starting eleven after being rested in the win over Bournemouth in the Quarter-Finals of the Carabao Cup during the midweek. The third spot is a toss-up between Mateo Kovacic, Ross Barkley and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, all of whom started against Bournemouth.
While there are murmurs that Sarri could field Eden Hazard upfront in a False Nine role, we expect Olivier Giroud to start on Saturday, with Hazard on the left and Pedro returning to the starting eleven.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Kepa; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Alonso; Kante, Jorginho, Kovacic; Pedro, Giroud, Hazard
Daniel Amartey and Matty James continue to remain on the sidelines. Ben Chilwell is also doubtful for the game at Chelsea. But, Jamie Vardy, who was rested in the midweek Carabao Cup Quarter-Final defeat to Manchester City, should return to the starting eleven and assume his place upfront.
Kasper Schmeichel and Ricardo Pereira should return as well, with the likes of Wes Morgan, Harry Maguire and Christian Fuchs completing the defensive line. Nampalys Mendy should come back into the thick of things and is likely to partner Wilfred Ndidi in the double pivot.
Marc Albrighton, James Maddison and Demarai Gray should play behind Jamie Vardy and aim to disrupt the Chelsea backline with their movement and directness. Maddison, in particular, has been the highlight for Leicester and the Englishman will have to be impactful on Saturday if the Foxes are to snatch a point or three from Chelsea.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Schmeichel; Pereira, Morgan, Maguire, Fuchs; Mendy, Ndidi; Albrighton, Maddison, Gray; Vardy
1. Leicester Asian Handicap +1.5 @ 1.920
2. Both Teams to Score – YES @ 2.05
1. Correct Scoreline – Chelsea 2-1 Leicester @ 9.00
1. The last eight league games that Leicester City have played have yielded 2 goals or less.
2. Leicester City are the most aggressive side this season in terms of red cards, with the Foxes already having a player sent off on four different occasions this season.
3. Chelsea are unbeaten in their last 12 home games in the Premier League, keeping a clean sheet in each of their last three.
4. London Blues – Leicester are winless in their last 10 games in London (D4 L6).
5. Chelsea have failed to score just once this season at home in all competitions combined, in a 0-0 draw against Everton in the Premier League.
Player to Watch
There aren’t many players who have managed to jump straight into the Premier League from a lower tier of English football and have this kind of immediate impact. Not only has James Maddison become a key player for Leicester City, but his performances for the Foxes have opened the door for a senior call-up for the Englishman.
But, needless to say, his dip in form has coincided with the Foxes being miserable in picking up wins. On Saturday, Maddison will have a defence to target; a Chelsea defence that has been proven to be leaky, especially against teams with pace. Maddison can use Vardy’s pace and runs to wreak havoc.
Chelsea 1-1 Leicester City
While we may consider Chelsea to be the favourites going into the match, Leicester City have made it a habit in recent seasons of picking up steam with a good performance against a top side. Often, the Foxes have shown the ability to take the fight to the best of the Premier League outfits.
On Saturday, it will be Chelsea’s patient Sarri-ball against the whirlwind Leicester City counter attacks. We expect Leicester to create chances. This is a tough game to call. But, a 1-1 draw is what seems to be the most likely outcome, especially with their recent head-to-head record.