Saturday, January 21, 2017

Prediction: Chelsea vs Leicester


Verdict: Both teams to score

Best Odds: 3/4

Bookmaker: bet365

Last two Premier League champions square off at Stamford Bridge in the opening fixture of Matchday 8, with both sides hoping to improve on the poor start to the new campaign. Given that the match comes just after the international break, it remains to be seen in what shape the two sets of players will be on match day.

Chelsea

The 2014/2015 Premier League winners had a nightmare season last term, and the club desperately needed a world-class manager to get them back on the right track. The reality is they couldn’t have chosen a much better candidate than Antonio Conte, although the Italian has yet to make this team his own. The former Juventus boss decided to discard his favourite 3-5-2 formation and mostly used 4-2-3-1 style since arriving at Stamford Bridge. That did not appear to bring the desired results as the Blues took 10 points from opening 6 games, which prompted Conte to switch to a three-man back line. It remains to be seen whether the new formation will change the course of Chelsea’s season, but it seems to have had an instant impact as the Blues defeated Hull City on the road ahead of the international break. Chances are that the new boss will have to make few more tweaks to his playing squad in the January window if the club are to mount a serious title challenge, and no doubts that the game against Leicester City will be a good test to their title ambitions. Star player Eden Hazard will also need to raise his game as he has been far from impressive in the opening exchanges, while it remains to be see whether Diego Costa and Willian can continue the rich vein of form.

Team News

Captain John Terry should be fit to play after recovering from a ligament injury, and his return will be more than welcome considering team’s defensive showings of late.

Makeshift full-back Victor Moses is rated doubtful through a hamstring problem, while John Obi Mikel could return, but Kurt Zouma remains on the sidelines.

Leicester

The most unlikely of Premier League champions are now experiencing a bit of a second season syndrome, but they are under no pressure as nobody really expected them to challenge for the coveted trophy this term. Claudio Ranieri did reinforce the ranks over the summer, adding more bodies to the squad, and the Italian did so without disrupting the dressing room atmosphere that had been a key ingredient in the title winning season. A couple of months into the new campaign and the Foxes are still struggling in the league, but they have done remarkably well in Europe. Having made a giant step towards the knockout stages with back to back wins over Club Brugge and FC Porto, Leicester City will now attempt to get their Premier League campaign back on track having slipped to 12th in the overall standings. The Foxes have experienced problems up front in recent games, having scored just two goals in last three fixtures, but with the likes of Vardy, Slimani and Mahrez in the attacking department, the poor run of form is unlikely to continue for much longer. Leicester should get plenty of opportunities to catch Chelsea on the break on Saturday, especially given the recent performances of the likes of David Luiz and Gary Cahill, but their back line will also have their work cut out for them when facing the likes of Diego Costa, Eden Hazard and Willian.

Team News

There have been no fresh selection worries for manager Claudio Ranieri, but Nampalys Mendy and Matty James remain in the treatment room.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Both teams scored in each of their last four meetings
  • Their last eight meetings produced 35 goals
  • Chelsea are unbeaten in last six home games vs Leicester (W5 D1)
  • The Blues conceded five goals in four home fixtures this term
  • Leicester scored in each of four away games this season

Conclusion

The 2-0 triumph over Hull City helped Chelsea restore some of the lost confidence, but the Blues need to continue in the same manner if they want to stay close to their title rivals. Leicester City are also expected to adopt a positive approach at Stamford Bridge and we expect the trend of both teams scoring in their meetings will continue.

Verdict: Both teams to score

Best Odds: 3/4

Bookmaker: bet365

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