Chelsea will be hoping to return to winning ways in the Premier League when they take on Leicester City at the King Power Stadium on Saturday.
Premier League football returns after 10 days with Gameweek 25 of the 2019-20 season. First up this week is a potential cracker of a game, as third-placed Leicester City play hosts to fourth-placed Chelsea at the King Power Stadium in Saturday’s lunch-time kick-off.
Leicester City have seen their form peter out after a spectacular first half of the season. In the four Premier League games that they have played since the turn of the year, the Foxes have won two and lost as many games. Brendan Rodgers’ men suffered a further setback heading into this game after being bundled out of the Carabao Cup by Aston Villa earlier this week.
Much like Leicester, Chelsea’s form has dropped considerably of late, with the Blues’ run of results being even worse than their hosts. Frank Lampard’s men have managed to win just one of their last four Premier League games, although they returned to winning ways when they beat Hull City 2-1 in the FA Cup last weekend.
The reverse fixture, played at Stamford Bridge back in August, ended in a 1-1 stalemate, with Mason Mount’s early goal being cancelled out by Wilfred Ndidi. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Brendan Rodgers does not have many pressing injury concerns to deal with ahead of the visit of Chelsea. On Saturday, the Leicester City boss will be without four first-team players, but none of the unavailable stars are regulars in his side.
Nampalys Mendy is the latest player to be sidelined, after picking up a knee injury last week. The French midfielder joins Wes Morgan (illness), Matty James (match fitness) and Daniel Amartey (ankle) on the sidelines.
Rodgers will line his side up in a 4-1-4-1 formation, with Kasper Schmeichel taking his place in goal. The Dane will also don the armband for Leicester. In front of him, the backline is pretty much set, with Caglar Soyuncu and Jonny Evans forming the central defensive partnership, while Ricardo Pereira and Ben Chilwell will be the full-back pairing.
Wilfred Ndidi’s return has come as a blessing for Leicester, who lacked the stability in the middle of the park. Ndidi will play the Anchor Man role, providing cover to the defence while setting the tempo of the game.
Youri Tielemans and Dennis Praet will be deployed in the more advanced central roles. Tielemans will provide the creative thrust through the channels, while Praet will pose more of a threat around the box. James Maddison and Ayoze Perez will be the two wide men, with the duo looking to support central striker, Jamie Vardy, who ought to return to the starting lineup.
Probable Lineup (4-1-4-1): Schmeichel; Ricardo, Evans, Soyuncu, Chilwell; Ndidi; Perez, Praet, Tielemans, Maddison; Vardy
The key decision for Frank Lampard, as far as the injuries are concerned, will centre around Tammy Abraham and Reece James. Abraham sustained an ankle injury last week in the 2-2 draw against Arsenal and is a major doubt ahead of the trip to take on Leicester City.
During his pre-match press conference, Lampard revealed that Abraham had trained on Friday and could be in contention to start. With Michy Batshuayi failing to impress in Chelsea’s FA Cup 2-1 win over Hull City, Abraham could start even if he is not at a 100 percent.
Lampard is also sweating over the fitness of Reece James, who has missed the last two games due to a knee injury. The young full-back, though, is believed to be fit enough to return, meaning he is likely to start as Chelsea’s right-back, with Cesar Azpilicueta moving out to the left flank as a result.
Fikayo Tomori was impressive against Hull and should have done enough to earn a place alongside Antonio Rudiger at the heart of the Chelsea defence. Kepa Arrizabalaga ought to return between the sticks, despite recent criticism about his performances.
Lampard should retain the 4-3-3 formation, with Jorginho sitting at the base of the three-man midfield. N’Golo Kante has regained fitness and will walk back into the starting lineup, with Mateo Kovacic taking up the third spot in the middle of the park.
Upfront, the key decision will pertain to Abraham, who should lead the line for Chelsea against Leicester. Callum Hudson-Odoi has impressed more often than not in the absence of the injured Christian Pulisic, and should start on the right flank, with Willian deployed on the opposite wing.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Kepa; James, Rudiger, Tomori, Azpilicueta; Kante, Jorginho, Kovacic; Hudson-Odoi, Abraham, Willian
- Leicester City are unbeaten in their last four Premier League games against Chelsea (W1 D3), their best run since going five without defeat between April 1999 and February 2001.
- No team has won more away Premier League games against Leicester at the King Power Stadium than Chelsea (4, level with Liverpool and Tottenham).
- Leicester have lost two of their last three Premier League home games, although they did win 4-1 against West Ham United last time out. The Foxes had lost just one of their previous 15 at the King Power Stadium (W11 D3).
- From their first six away league games this season, Chelsea won 15 of a possible 18 points (W5 D0 L1), scoring 18 goals in this run. In their last six on the road, they’ve won 7 of 18 points (W2 D1 L3), while netting just seven goals.
- Brendan Rodgers has faced Chelsea 13 times in his managerial career; no side has he faced more. However, he is winless in all 13 of his meetings with the Blues (D7 L6), only losing more often against Manchester United (9).
Player to Watch
Leicester City took everyone by surprise with a stunning start to the season, almost scoring goals for fun. The player scoring most of these goals at the time was Jamie Vardy, who took no time to zoom up to the top of the goalscoring charts in the Premier League.
However, the English striker has gone a bit cold in the last month or so, having initially missed a bunch of games before seeing his scoring run dry up. However, if Leicester are to get back on track, it is Vardy who needs to rediscover his form.
What better way to signal a return to his best than by scoring against a fellow top four contender. With Chelsea boasting one of the most vulnerable defences in the division, one would fancy Vardy’s chances on the day. A big game for the veteran striker and the Foxes.
Leicester City 2-1 Chelsea
This is a match that is a bit complicated to predict. Leicester have not exactly been at their best and a strong side struggled to score more than once past Aston Villa earlier this week. However, the return of Wilfred Ndidi and Jamie Vardy should boost their collective performance.
Chelsea, on the other hand, continue to blow hot and cold, with goals starting to dry up for them as well. If Tammy Abraham fails to regain fitness, they could be in a spot of bother, with Michy Batshuayi failing to impress. Even if Abraham is fit to start, the Blues’ struggling defence leaves them at a disadvantage.
There might not be a lot to separate the two sides, but in the end, Leicester should have the slightest of edges. To that end, The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-1 win for Brendan Rodgers & co. in a result that consolidates third place on the table.