After their Champions League exit in midweek, Chelsea head to Leicester in the FA Cup on Sunday. The Blues are aiming for a return to Wembley, as they chase the only silverware on offer for them this term. While the main focus for the campaign will be securing a place in the top four, Antonio Conte has unfinished business with this competition. The defeat to Arsenal in the final last term will still anger the Italian, and he’ll want to put an end to a record which has seen him lift four domestic titles without succeeding in a cup final as a manager.
Of course, the Blues are taking on a Leicester side who are chasing silverware to follow up their 2016 title win. The Foxes are having a strong season, as they push for a Europa League spot in the league. But can they add a cup run to Wembley on top of that? They’ll be out for a win on Sunday, but their memory of losing out at this stage of the EFL Cup in December is likely to hang over the Foxes’ heads going into this weekend’s big clash.
Team News: Conte Can’t Afford to Rotate at King Power
Chelsea remain without David Luiz and Ross Barkley, but neither of those two were likely to feature in this game anyway. The Blues boss tends to make changes in this competition, but given the current state of the campaign the champions can ill-afford to risk dropping out of the cup. With a two week international break to come before the top four push restarts, the Blues have no reason to try and switch things up or this trip to the King Power.
We expect to see a strong side to start for the visitors, although Conte may continue to make Willy Caballero the goalkeeper for cup matches. Aside from that, there’s little reason for Conte to rotate, so don’t expect too many changes from the side which took the field at the Camp Nou.
Leicester have no major injury concerns this weekend, which gives Claude Puel plenty of room when he approaches his team selection. The Frenchman has tried playing a 3-5-2 system with the Foxes recently, but last weekend saw them win at West Brom with a 4-2-3-1 set-up. They have tried going with a 4-3-3 featuring two wingers, and that kind of approach is probably best when taking on this Chelsea side, so we expect that to be the system Puel uses for this clash.
Leicester’s 4-1 victory over West Brom last weekend keeps them in European contention, as they remain eighth in the Premier League. They’re just eight points shy of underperforming Arsenal, while they’re only three short of seventh. With three of the top five still in this competition – and each them are favourites in their respective ties – it’s likely that one will lift the cup, opening up a final seventh European place in the Premier League. Can the Foxes claim that?
They’ll have to boost their home form to take seventh, having passed up plenty of chances to leapfrog Burnley of late. The Foxes have drawn three of their last four at this ground, with their only win coming against Championship opposition in the FA Cup. While they have two wins at home in this competition behind them, recent draws at home to struggling sides have to worry Puel.
Leicester v Chelsea Head to Head
Chelsea have a strong record against the Foxes, having gone unbeaten in six encounters. The Blues have also managed to win three of the last four meetings between these sides, along with a 4-2 victory at this ground in the EFL Cup last term. The Blues have only failed to win once at this ground since the hosts returned to the top flight, and that was during Leicester’s title winning season. With that in mind, the Blues have a great chance of progressing here.
- Chelsea 0-0 Leicester, Jan 2018
- Leicester 1-2 Chelsea, Sept 2017
- Leicester 0-3 Chelsea, Jan 2017
- Chelsea 3-0 Leicester, Nov 2016
- Leicester 2-4 (AET) Chelsea, Sept 2016
- Both Teams to Score – 8/11 with Betfair
- Over 1.5 Chelsea Goals – 21/20 with Coral
Chelsea make this trip as favourites to win the clash, priced up at 11/10 with Betfred to get the three points. Meanwhile, the Foxes are 12/5 with Ladbrokes to delight their home faithful with a victory, while the draw is 5/2 with BetVictor this weekend. Of course, a draw here wouldn’t force a replay at Stamford Bridge, with quarter-finals going straight to extra time these days. Can the champions live up to their billing as favourites, or will this be the week which sees their season fall apart?
The visitors will have to be a little concerned about their defensive form this weekend, having conceded in their last four. They make this trip having lost five straight away trips, which has seen them ship 12 goals across those matches. The Blues’ defence at the moment isn’t the most experienced, and we think that is playing a part in their defensive issues. While the side looked organised in Barcelona, it was defensive errors which cost the game. Unfortunately, that’s not the first time that has hit the Blues this term.
We see both teams scoring here, based on Leicester having scored in all but two of their home games this term. That outcome can be backed at 8/11 with Betfair. While the hosts are strong going forward, they aren’t that effective at the back. Leicester have conceded two or more in four of their home clashes with the top five, including a 2-1 loss to Chelsea. The Blues have scored twice in five of their last six trips here, and we’re backing over 1.5 goals for the visitors at 21/20 with Coral.