Joint Premier League leaders Leicester City take on the reigning champions Chelsea in the final game of Matchday 16, with plenty of fireworks expected at King Power Stadium. The Foxes are unbeaten in last eight league fixtures and head into the game in much better mood than their more illustrious opponents.
Leicester City’s unlikely rise to stardom has been a perfect story for the football romantics, and everybody is now wondering how long will the Foxes be able to keep the rich vein of form. In Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez, Claudio Ranieri has got two of the Europe’s in-form players, who have been bagging goals for fun since the very start to the season, but it is the great chemistry and togetherness that have propelled the King Power Stadium outfit to the top of the Premier League standings. Even though many will agree that Leicester City still cannot be considered genuine title contenders, the reality is they have looked like one from the off, winning the so-called smaller games with incredible ease and giving England’s top sides a run for their money. It is the next four matches in which the Foxes face Chelsea, Everton, Liverpool and Manchester City that will probably determine the direction in which the season will go, but judging by the impressive showing against Manchester United, Leicester may not do too badly.
Claudio Ranieri will have Nathan Dyer back to the side after he was ineligible to face parent club Swansea City last weekend, but he is unlikely to start.
There have been no fresh selection worries for the Italian manager, who has just Matty James and Ritchie de Laet on the sidelines.
Fifteen games into the new campaign and the Premier League holders sit mere two points above the relegation zone, with even a top 4 finish now looking unlikely. There is still time for Jose Mourinho’s charges to try and save the current season, but they will have to get their league campaign back on track shortly. And while the Blues’ experience helped the team impress in the Champions League, they have been well below par on domestic stage, failing to score a single goal in last two matches, with home loss to Bournemouth especially disappointing. Chelsea did look a bit more dangerous in midweek against Porto, but with key attackers Diego Costa and Eden Hazard struggling for form, their attacking woes look set to continue. Knowing all too well how dangerous Leicester City can be on the break, Jose Mourinho is widely expected to adopt a cautious approach, which is another sign of how well the Foxes have done so far, with the Premier League holders worrying about the damage Claudio Ranieri’s side can do them at King Power Stadium.
Diego Costa looks set to keep his place up front despite failing to score in midweek, but Radamel Falcao continues to miss out.
Meanwhile, Kurt Zouma and Ramires will again be preferred to Gary Cahill and Cesc Fabregas, another two key players from last season who are out of form at the moment.
Key Factors to Consider
- Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez have scored more goals than Chelsea this season (24 vs 17)
- Chelsea allowed just one goal in their last five matches
- Leicester conceded one goal in last three Premier League fixtures
- Chelsea kept a clean sheet in each of their last two away games
- There were two goals on average scored in Leicester’s last three home matches
Leicester City did not exactly impress when facing the top 4 contenders (D2 L1) and they will probably have to revert to a more defensive style when they host Chelsea. Meanwhile, the Blues have patched up the leaky defence, but still struggle up front, so we don’t expect to see too many goals at King Power Stadium.
Verdict: Under 2.5 goals
Best Odds: 10/11
Bookmaker: William Hill