Thursday, October 19
 

Preview: Leicester City vs. Chelsea

Sports Mole previews the Premier League clash at the King Power Stadium between Leicester City and Chelsea.

Chelsea make the trip to face Leicester City at the King Power Stadium having recorded back-to-back wins over Tottenham Hotspur and Everton in the Premier League.

The Foxes host the defending champions having already lost to both Arsenal and Manchester United on the road, but the East Midlands outfit are a different proposition in front of their own supporters.


Leicester City

When the fixture list was published in June, Leicester head coach Craig Shakespeare would have felt hard done by with Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea all coming in the first month of the campaign, but the Foxes have shown that there is no reason to be overawed this season.

Arsenal were fortunate to prevail 4-3 at the Emirates Stadium, while United relied on two goals in the final 20 minutes to come through a stern examination at Old Trafford before the international break.

Leicester's 2-0 win over Brighton & Hove Albion means that they remain above the relegation zone, but the club will have aspirations of building on the early promise shown against some tough opposition and Shakespeare's men seem perfectly capable of finishing in the top half of the standings in May.

The debacle over whether Adrien Silva can play before January has threatened to overshadow the positivity at the club but regardless of whether a solution is found, all focus must be placed on trying to earn a result against a team who are showing signs of gelling in their attempt to defend the league title.

Shakespeare may have a job on his hands in trying to reintegrate Riyad Mahrez back into the fold. While the Algerian has been praised for his professionalism, it remains to be seen whether a failure to secure a deadline-day move elsewhere will affect his mentality over the coming months.

Leicester will also require a strong showing from new signing Harry Maguire if they are to get anything from Chelsea but after spending time with the England squad, the 24-year-old can only continue to build on an impressive start to life with his new side.

Recent form: LWL
Recent form (all competitions): LWWL


Chelsea

Chelsea may have missed out on signing both Ross Barkley and Fernando Llorente on deadline day, but head coach Antonio Conte still has every reason to be happy with life at Stamford Bridge.

Two wins in a row against opposition which will be regarded as contenders for a top-six place have ensured that the Blues have overcome their first-day wobble against Burnley.

The tough fixtures continue to come in the form of Leicester, while the schedule for what is regarded as a light squad will only become more hectic over the coming weeks, but the atmosphere at the club has seemingly improved since the discontent earlier in the summer.

The acquisitions of Davide Zappacosta and Danny Drinkwater - who has arrived from Leicester - gives Conte both added numbers and balance to his 3-4-3 formation, and the duo will be expected to establish themselves as key members of the squad going forward.

Alvaro Morata has started to settle in attack, while Chelsea and Conte are further boosted by the return to fitness of Eden Hazard, who will come into contention for this match.

The Belgian playmaker may not start at the King Power Stadium but for the first time this season, the option will be there to use a player who was instrumental to Chelsea's success during the last campaign.

Conte may have one eye on the Champions League clash with Qarabag on Tuesday night, but the Italian's team selection is likely to reflect his desire to retain the Premier League crown at all costs.

Recent form: LWW


Team News

Conte must decide whether to hand an immediate recall to Hazard, but the club's key man may have to make do with a place among the replacements.

Gary Cahill serves the final match of his suspension, meaning that Antonio Rudiger will continue to be used in defence, while Zappacosta and Drinkwater are likely to be on the bench.

Leicester will be without Silva, while fellow new signing Vicente Iborra is also an injury doubt ahead of this weekend's match.

However, Robert Huth and Kelechi Iheanacho are available for selection, while deadline-day signing Aleksandar Dragovic could also feature in the squad after arriving on loan from Bayer Leverkusen.

Leicester City possible starting lineup:
Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan, Maguire, Fuchs, Ndidi, James, Albrighton, Okazaki, Mahrez, Vardy

Chelsea possible starting lineup:
Courtois, Azpilcueta, Luiz, Rudiger, Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso, Willian, Pedro, Morata


Head To Head

Saturday's contest represents the 110th time in which these two teams have faced each other in a competitive fixture, with Chelsea recording 54 wins in comparison to just 25 victories for Leicester.

The Foxes avoided defeat in both of their encounters during their title-winning season, but that remains their only success since 2001, with Chelsea prevailing in the other 11 matches.

The corresponding fixture last season ended in a 3-0 success for the Blues, with Marcos Alonso and Pedro both getting onto the scoresheet.


We say: Leicester City 1-2 Chelsea

Leicester will be confident of at least registering a point from their showdown with Chelsea, but there are signs that the West Londoners are beginning to warm to the task of trying to defend their league crown. It should be a closely-fought contest, but Chelsea's superior quality in the final third should pull them through.


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