Finally, the international break is gone for a little while and Chelsea are back in action. The current champions travel to the King Power Stadium to face the 2015/16 Premier League champions.
Leicester has had a mixed start to the season: with 3 points from 9. The Foxes were somewhat unlucky in their opening encounter – losing 4-3 at the Emirates after conceding two late goals. They responded with a convincing 2-0 victory at the King Power against newly promoted Brighton and Hove Albion – with Riyad Mahrez, subject to constant transfer speculation, performing at levels similar to his majestic 2015/16 campaign. Leicester lost at Old Trafford in their most recent league fixture but defended stoutly and it took United 70 minutes before they could get past that stubborn duo of Wes Morgan and ‘Hard Brexit’ defender, Harry Maguire. Maguire subsequently received his first call-up to the England squad which is a testament to his start at the KP.
Chelsea, on the other hand, has responded strongly following their shock defeat at home to Burnley. 6 points from tricky looking ties against Tottenham, at Wembley, and at home to Everton is a good confidence booster for Antonio Conte’s men. Leicester will prove a tricky outfit but the game should be very open so expect to see Willian, Pedro and possibly Hazard to be very involved. Although the timing of the international break was inconvenient, the break was successful with players staying injury-free. Hazard came out unscathed following Belgium duty and Morata continued his rich vein of form – with 3 goals in Spain’s recent qualifiers against Italy and Liechtenstein.
So, what is the team news from the Bridge? Expect the team to be very similar to the team that played Everton. Although he marks a return to the KP, Drinkwater will probably be on the bench, primarily due to a lack of match fitness. Zappacosta will also since Moses hasn’t done anything to warrant losing his place and it is a risk to throw the Italian into an away Premier League fixture. Conte hinted that Eden will likely start against Qarabag in midweek so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Willian and Pedro start from the outset. Nonetheless, having Hazard as a game-changer in reserve, is incredibly useful for Chelsea should the momentum swing towards the Foxes.
Expected line-up: Courtois; Azpilicueta ©, Luiz, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Bakayoko, Alonso; Willian, Morata, Pedro.
This will probably be a curse but expect an open game at the KP. Both teams have an abundance of pace. Alonso will have a tough task against Mahrez and the likes of Wes Morgan and Danny Simpson are there to be got at by the intricate attacking Chelsea trio. Throw Eden Hazard into the equation and the Leicester backline will be even more apprehensive. Both teams will score – Leicester under Shakespeare are a different outfit to the Leicester who downed tools on Ranieri. There is no denying Leicester have quality but the Bakayoko-Kante duo should set Chelsea up for a convincing victory.
Prediction: Leicester 1-3 Chelsea.