Chelsea return from the international break aiming to continue their winning form. With new bodies through the door on transfer deadline day, the Blues hierarchy believe they have a squad capable of challenging for the Premier League title. It remains to be seen just how true that is, or how much Antonio Conte shares their opinion. The new additions could make an appearance this weekend, as the Blues kick off a run of seven games in three weeks straight after many of their squad flew around the world for international clashes.
Of course, Leicester have the same issues given the number of internationals they now have on their books. The former champions have made a solid start to the new campaign, and they’re certainly looking like contenders for a European spot. Having added plenty of squad depth – something which Chelsea and Conte struggled to do – the Foxes have to be respected this term. They gave Arsenal a game on the opening day, whilst they kicked off their campaign at home with a 2-0 victory over Brighton. Can they add to that win when the champions visit the King Power.
Team News: Conte ready to welcome back Hazard
Chelsea may have added in a couple of bodies to the squad, but the key thing for them is the return of Eden Hazard. The Belgian hasn’t featured for the Blues since May, but despite missing preseason he still lined up for his international team over the break. He’s now fit to return for the Blues this weekend, which is a massive boost as Conte gets to line him up with Alvaro Morata. Given the nature of Chelsea’s squad right now, getting everyone back to fitness is crucial. That should see Willian and Pedro competing to play alongside Hazard, with competition across the team once again. That gives the manager the option to rotate ahead of the club’s return to European football next week.
Leicester have been lining up with a 4-4-1-1 formation this term, with Jamie Vardy as their central striker. Having lost Danny Drinkwater to Chelsea, the Foxes have signed Sporting Lisbon captain Adrien Silva to replace him. He could start in an impressive midfield alongside Vincente Iborra, which will be tough for Chelsea to break through. With those two likely to feature just behind Shinji Okazaki, the Foxes work rate will be tough to match. The hosts are certainly in much better shape than when they last hosted Chelsea, with the club then spiralling towards the drop zone.
Leicester head in to this game on the back of one win from three, but they’re playing much better than that suggests. Having met Arsenal and Manchester United away in the opening weeks of the season, this has been a tricky start for Craig Shakespeare. They weren’t blown away in either of those two, holding out against United for 70 minutes before losing 2-0. Their clash with Arsenal was a seven goal thriller, in which the Gunners hit two late goals to secure the points. Having tested themselves against those two, the Foxes will certainly be up for this challenge on Saturday.
Leicester did manage to win their only home, game pulling off a 2-0 win over Brighton. The Foxes were able to cruise past most of the bottom half sides last term, but they did struggle against top teams. They may have plenty of options in their squad, but can that bridge the gap between themselves and the Blues? It’s going to take a huge step up for them to get anything from this clash.
Leicester v Chelsea Head to Head
Chelsea took advantage of Leicester’s problems last season to claim two 3-0 victories, which helped propel them to the title. The Blues also beat Leicester in the EFL Cup, but they weren’t as successful the season before. Having lost at the King Power, Jose Mourinho then lost his job. Antonio Conte will be hoping the same doesn’t happen when his Blues take their title defence to the King Power.
- Leicester 0-3 Chelsea, Jan 2017
- Chelsea 3-0 Leicester, Oct 2016
- Leicester 2-4 Chelsea, Sept 2016
- Chelsea 1-1 Leicester, May 2016
- Leicester 2-1 Chelsea, Dec 2015
- Chelsea to win – 4/5 with Betfred
- Morata to score any time – 23/20 with Coral
Having claimed back to back wins, Chelsea will be aiming to carry that momentum across the international break. With a packed schedule on the horizon, the Blues need to kick off with a win here, and the bookies are reflecting that in their prices. The draw here is available at 13/5 with Bet365, while you can back Leicester at 15/4 with BetVictor to claim a home win. Those odds are probably fair, despite the Foxes impressing at times this season. Their results so far make them underdogs.
Chelsea head into this one as deserved favourites, and we’re backing them at solid enough odds of 4/5 with Betfred. Having won two matches on the spin against top sides, the Blues have shown that they’re back to their title winning form of old. They’ve impressed against both Tottenham and Everton, and they should use that form to get a result at the King Power. We’re backing the away win here, which looks like a great price given how the Blues have picked up since losing to Burnley.
Morata has looked strong for the Blues since joining from Real Madrid, and he reiterated his debt to Conte during the international break. He’s always been desperate to play for the Italian, and we see him repaying that debt this weekend. His great start should continue against a Leicester side who have shipped goals to both Arsenal and Manchester United’s new big money strikers. We see Morata piling in on top. He’s priced at 23/20 with Coral to score any time this weekend.