Chelsea have yet to prove that they have come out of the cobwebs of last season’s disaster. Antonio Conte’s side are currently struggling at the 7th spot on the Premier League table after being touted as one of the title contenders at the beginning of the season.
Their four wins have come against teams like Burnley, West Ham, Watford and Hull City, all of whom are in the bottom half of the table. The failure of the Ivanovic-Cahill-Azpilicueta-Luiz combine at the back came to the fore in crushing defeats against Liverpool and Arsenal.
The probable return of John Terry and Kurt Zouma for the encounter against Leicester on Saturday gives the faltering Blues defense some hope. A change to a 3-4-3 formation, one which Conte successfully deployed as the coach of Juventus, produced good results against the Blues’ last match against Hull which they won 2-0 and they can take satisfaction from the fact that this was the only Premier League match in which they didn’t concede goal. But this three-man defense strategy could be put to test against sides possessing more attacking prowess than a Hull City.
The Blues attack will probably depend more and more on Diego Costa who has accounted for half of his side’s 12 Premier League goals. Hazard and Fabregas are way below their best presently and need to fire on Saturday night. With only Cahill finding a place in the national squad for England’s forthcoming WC 2018 qualifying clashes, most of the players will feel rested and charged up ahead of the October 15th clash at Stamford Bridge.
While Claudio Ranieri’s side couldn’t have asked for a better start to their UEFA Champions Cup campaign, things at the Premier League have been in utter contrast to the fairy tale performance of the 2015-16 season. With only 2 wins from their 7 games and in the 12th spot on the table, Leicester City face the daunting prospect of facing a resurgent Chelsea away at Stamford Bridge. While Ranieri’s 4-4-2 formation may have earned him dividends at home, it’s been a disaster in away games (they have yet to win one away from home so far in this EPL season).
City have conceded just 1 goal from their 3 games at home, they have let as many as 10 in their away encounters. Of serious concern in the midfield has been newbie Daniel Amartey’s inability to gel properly with Danny Drinkwater, which is why opponents have found it so easy to overrun City in this part of the field. Fans are expecting Ranieri to try the £16million acquisition, Nigerian striker Ahmed Musa for the first time. Musa could prove to be an ideal foil for Islam Slimani upfront and a possible substitute for an overworked and patchy Jamie Vardy. The brilliant U21 English find, winger Demarai Gray, could be expected to make his debut at Stamford Bridge and possibly leave a mark there.
While October 15th’s clash between these two could turn out to be an interesting fare, bookmakers are giving the hosts a clear edge as far odds go.
Half Time/Full Time, Chelsea, Chelsea. Best Odds 6/4 @ Coral
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