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Preview: Chelsea vs. Leicester City - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Chelsea vs. Leicester City - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole provides team news, predicted lineups and a full preview of Saturday's Premier League clash between Chelsea and Leicester City.
By , Senior Reporter | 6mo

Chelsea head into their Premier League encounter with Leicester City on Saturday afternoon looking to record their third successive win in the top flight.

Leicester make the trip to Stamford Bridge having dropped down to 12th position in the standings, although the Foxes remain just three points adrift of seventh-placed Wolverhampton Wanderers.


Chelsea are still some way short of being the finished article under Maurizio Sarri, but the Blues continue to find a way to churn out results in order to remain in the top four of the table.

The defeats at Tottenham Hotspur and Wolves were a wakeup call for a side who had previously put together an unbeaten run lasting over three months, but hard-fought wins over Manchester City and Brighton & Hove Albion have improved the mood at Stamford Bridge.

Their efforts in the final third remain a concern with Chelsea having gone six games without netting more than twice in a top-flight fixture, and their lack of a clinical touch was once again on show during the narrow 1-0 win over Bournemouth in the EFL Cup quarter-finals.

Chelsea created 25 shots and registered as many as 12 on target, but it took a heavily-deflected effort from Eden Hazard to finally get the better of Cherries stopper Artur Boruc.

Hazard has now scored 10 goals in all competitions this season, but it is nine assists in the Premier League which have perhaps made him the standout player in English football during the first half of the campaign.

However, Chelsea still have issues in the centre-forward role with Olivier Giroud only netting one domestic goal since the beginning of August, while the backline still looks shaky at times despite four clean sheets coming from their last seven outings.

Results are all that will matter over a hectic schedule over Christmas and New Year, but Sarri will remain unsatisfied until his players have fully adapted to his tactics.

Whether that materialises this season remains to be seen, but getting 12 points on the board from four games over the next two weeks is the short-term objective and achieving that target may be enough to close the gap on the top two.

Recent form: DLWLWW
Recent form (all competitions): WLWDWW

Leicester City

Leicester put together a remarkable run of form in the aftermath of the helicopter crash at the King Power Stadium on October 27, but Claude Puel faces a fight to get his side back on track after a poor couple of weeks.

The Foxes have registered just one point from their last three outings in the Premier League, and it has been enough for the East Midlands outfit to drop down into the bottom half of the table.

There was more disappointment on Tuesday evening as Leicester bowed out to Manchester City in the EFL Cup quarter-finals, and Puel must now find a way to quickly get back to winning ways.

The Frenchman has put together a squad which should be capable of challenging for seventh spot and a place in the Europa League and although there is only a small gap to that target, that could change with further setbacks at Chelsea and against Man City.

Puel will acknowledge that Leicester are unlikely to gain much in terms of points from that double-header, but there at least need to be improvements in all areas of the pitch ahead of what could be regarded as a huge match at home to Cardiff City on December 29.

The biggest concern for Puel will be the club's return in front of goal, and it has now been 11 games since Leicester last scored more than two goals in a Premier League fixture.

Jamie Vardy has struggled with injury at times, but the long-term top goalscorer has not received much help from his teammates with only James Maddison netting more than twice in the top flight.

The backline has performed solidly enough and currently holds the sixth-best defensive record in the top flight but unless Leicester can start scoring goals, they will not not make any further progress.

Recent form: DDWDLL
Recent form (all competitions): DWDLLD

Team News

Vardy was rested for the EFL Cup tie with Manchester City on Tuesday night due to a groin problem, but Puel hopes to have the striker fit for the visit to West London.

Puel will recall the players who dropped out of the starting lineup in midweek, with Kasper Schmeichel, Ricardo Pereira, Wes Morgan and Maddison all likely to feature in the first XI.

Jonny Evans is available again after suspension while Ben Chilwell could be in contention after a knee injury, but Wilfred Ndidi is a doubt due to a similar problem.

Alvaro Morata continues to nurse a knee injury and is unlikely to be considered for a starting role this weekend, while Gary Cahill and Victor Moses are also expected to miss out.

Sarri will recall the players who missed out against Bournemouth, with David Luiz, Marcos Alonso, Jorginho and N'Golo Kante all likely to feature in the team.

Hazard will start having shaken off the knock which saw him limp off at Brighton, while Giroud should get the nod in attack.

Chelsea possible starting lineup:
Arrizabalaga; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Alonso; Kante, Jorginho, Kovacic; Willian, Giroud, Hazard

Leicester City possible starting lineup:
Schmeichel; Pereira, Morgan, Maguire, Fuchs; Mendy, Ndidi; Gray, Maddison, Ghezzal, Vardy

Head To Head

Saturday's game will represent the 113th competitive meeting between the two clubs, with Chelsea recording 56 wins in comparison to 25 victories for Leicester.

Leicester famously defeated Chelsea to end Jose Mourinho's second spell at the club, but that remains the Foxes' only win over the Blues in 16 attempts.

Chelsea have registered 13 wins and two draws during that period, with their last defeat against Leicester in West London coming in September 2000.

We say: Chelsea 2-1 Leicester City

Chelsea have arguably failed to produce a convincing performance in the Premier League since the end of October, and we expect another tight game here. Leicester may relish the tag of underdogs, but Chelsea should still have enough to seal a hard-fought triumph.

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