Chelsea and Leicester City will square off in the 2020/21 Premier League on Tuesday night in a crucial encounter with regard to the top-four race.
The penultimate matchday of the 2020/21 Premier League takes place this midweek, with the race for the top-four going down to the wire. On Tuesday night, two of the teams at the centre of the battle for the UEFA Champions League spots will take on each other when Chelsea host Leicester City at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea are currently fourth in the league table, just a point clear of Liverpool in fifth, with the Reds closing the gap following a dramatic 2-1 win over West Bromwich Albion on Sunday. The Blues, meanwhile, head into Tuesday’s game on the back of consecutive 1-0 defeats to Arsenal in the league and Leicester City in the finals of the FA Cup. But given how resilient they have been under Thomas Tuchel, a strong reaction is expected.
Leicester, meanwhile, have allowed Chelsea to close down the gap to them to just two points after being well clear in the third place at point. The draw to Southampton and the loss to Newcastle United hurt their chances but Brendan Rodgers’ had a huge last week as they first defeated Manchester United at Old Trafford before winning their first-ever FA Cup at the weekend. So, the confidence will undoubtedly be high in the Foxes’ camp.
The reverse fixture played in January earlier this year saw Leicester beat Chelsea 2-0 while they once again emerged triumphant in their most recent meeting in the FA Cup this past weekend. Ahead of their latest encounter, which could have major repercussions on the top-four battle, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.
Team News & Tactics
Hard at work. 💪 pic.twitter.com/Rmo6LMIkXe
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) May 17, 2021
Chelsea could be handed a double injury boost ahead of this crucial game as both Mateo Kovacic and Andreas Christensen are expected to be back at manager Thomas Tuchel’s disposal. However, given the magnitude of the clash, the German tactician might refrain from thrusting them right back into the thick of things on Tuesday.
There will, however, be changes made to the side that started at the weekend, starting from goal where Kepa Arrizabalaga will make way for Edouard Mendy. Cesar Azpilicueta should return at centre-back after starting the last game as a wing-back while Thiago Silva and Antonio Rudiger are likely to hold on to their spots in the three-man defensive unit.
Reece James, who was surprisingly fielded as a right-sided centre-half at the weekend, should return to his natural habitat at right wing-back while Ben Chilwell comes in on the left side in place of Marcos Alonso. The duo will be key in Chelsea’s chance-creation with their forward runs and deliveries into the box.
Former Leicester City star N’Golo Kante is a certainty to feature in the middle of the park. With Kovacic only just recovering, Jorginho is expected to hold on to his spot in the lineup alongside the Frenchman on Tuesday night. Mason Mount, meanwhile, will provide the drive and creativity from one of the attacking midfield slots with Christian Pulisic likely to slot in alongside him.
After having been benched in favour of Timo Werner at the weekend, Kai Havertz should be in line to start as the No.9 for Chelsea when Leicester City come visiting.
Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Mendy; Azpilicueta, Silva, Rudiger; James, Kante, Kovacic, Chilwell; Mount, Pulisic; Havertz
Leicester City, meanwhile, will be without key defender Jonny Evans. The Northern Irishman was rushed back for the FA Cup final but couldn’t get through the first half due to his injury and will not be available for the trip to London. In addition, James Justin, Harvey Barnes and Cengiz Under also miss out for the Foxes.
Like Chelsea, Leicester will also set up with a three-man defensive unit in front of goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel. With Evans ruled out, Timothy Castagne is likely to move into a centre-back role, slotting in alongside the extremely impressive Wesley Fofana and Caglar Soyuncu, with the trio hoping to keep the likes of Havertz and Pulisic quiet.
"We’ll see what he’s like for next weekend, but he won’t be involved tomorrow."
Brendan Rodgers confirms that Jonny Evans will miss #CheLei ⤵️
— Leicester City 🏆 (@LCFC) May 17, 2021
With Castagne set to start as a centre-back, the right wing-back slot will be up for grabs with Marc Albrighton likely to get the nod ahead of Ricardo Pereira. He will have a key role to play in not only negating the influence of former teammate Ben Chilwell but also providing the forwards with dangerous crosses to attack. Luke Thomas ought to continue out on the left.
Youri Tielemans, whose screamer of a goal won it for Leicester against Chelsea in the FA Cup final, is a certainty in the middle of the park from where he will look to offer the creative essence while also lending support to Wilfred Ndidi in the defensive phases. James Maddison, who has underwhelmed since returning from injury, should get a chance to redeem himself in the No. 10 role.
At the top, there is absolutely no looking past the duo of Jamie Vardy and Kelechi Iheanacho, although they will be hoping to fare better than they did in the weekend encounter.
Probable Lineup (3-4-1-2): Schmeichel; Castagne, Fofana, Soyuncu; Albrighton, Tielemans, Ndidi, Thomas; Maddison; Iheanacho, Vardy
- Chelsea are winless in their last six Premier League meetings with Leicester (D4 L2), having won nine of their previous 11 against them in the competition (D1 L1).
- Leicester are looking to complete their first league double over Chelsea since the 2000-01 campaign.
- Chelsea haven’t lost their final home league game in any of the last 18 seasons (W12 D6), since losing 3-1 against Aston Villa in the 2001-02 campaign.
- Victory for Leicester would ensure a top four finish for the Foxes for just the second time in the Premier League, after their 2015-16 title win.
- Chelsea have conceded the first goal in their last two Premier League games, coming back to beat Man City before losing to Arsenal. The Blues had only conceded first in one of their first 15 league games under Thomas Tuchel (a 1-1 draw with Southampton).
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FA Cup…completed it mate! 💙 pic.twitter.com/5PrbPfGTgj
— Jamie Vardy (@vardy7) May 15, 2021
A season that began with so much promise seems to be ending on a bit of a whimper for Jamie Vardy on a personal level. At 34, the way he carries himself on the field every time he steps out is impressive to say the least, while a tally of 13 goals and 9 assists from 32 league games is no laughing matter, either.
However, the problem for Leicester is that the veteran centre-forward has managed to find the back of the net just once in his last 12 Premier League outings. While Kelechi Iheanacho has stepped up during this period admirably, given what’s at line on Tuesday and again at the weekend, it is high time for Vardy to rise to the occasion and make the difference that will see Leicester get across the line and seal a Champions League berth for next term.
Chelsea 0-1 Leicester City
Leicester City have had Chelsea’s number this season, already beating them twice in the space of five months. And, it could turn out to be the same story yet again on Tuesday night. The Blues have struggled for goals generally under Thomas Tuchel and the Foxes have showed that they can keep the attack quiet twice already, having not let in a goal when they have come up against Chelsea this term.
Add to it, the fact that Chelsea haven’t won any of their last six league games against Leicester, who will certainly be full of confidence after the FA Cup triumph, The Hard Tackle is predicting another narrow win for Brendan Rodgers & co. sealing their place in the top four.