Chelsea have been handed a tough game in the EFL Cup Third Round, as they travel to Leicester. While the Premier League champions haven’t made the best of starts, they’re still dangerous opposition. Jose Mourinho lost his job after a 2-1 defeat here in December, can Antonio Conte fare any better?
Given the lack of European football this term, the cups carry even more importance. With only a handful of midweek games this year, there’s not really much excuse for heavy rotation in cup matches. The squad should be fresh enough to seriously compete on three fronts, especially given how short the League and FA Cup overlap is.
The disastrous season the club experienced last term should push the players on for silverware. The league will be the main aim, but there’s no reason for the Blues to shy away from cup games. A tie away to the Premier League champions makes this cup campaign even more interesting.
The Foxes will be focusing on cups this year, given their poor league start. Any slight hopes of repeating their incredible success last year have gone. Four points from their first four sees them eight points off the pace already. Their 4-1 defeat at Liverpool shows how much work they have to do. Their brilliant defence from last season has fallen apart.
Of course, Chelsea need to take some of the blame for Leicester’s woes. The signing of N’Golo Kante was fantastic business, but it was a hammer blow for the Foxes. The midfielder does the work of two holding players, he’s very difficult to replace. Things were always going to be difficult for Claudio Ranieri after the Frenchman departed the King Power.
Kante will have his work cut out for him on Tuesday, and not just from Leicester’s attackers. The holding midfielder will be covering for David Luiz, with the Brazilian prone to bursting out of defence. John Terry’s injury looks to keep him out for this one, although he probably would have been rested anyway.
Even though the Blues could name a strong side here, we’re expecting to see a few changes. Marcos Alonso could be in line for a start. The Bristol Rovers game in the Second Round saw quite a few changes, with Thibaut Courtois, Eden Hazard and Diego Costa rested. We could see Michy Batshuayi and Victor Moses given starts here, after they stepped up for the star names.
This will be an interesting examination of Conte’s ambitions. Will he name his strongest side and push for a cup, or rest stars and focus on the league? We’re hoping for a happy medium, but that’s rarely something you get with Chelsea. Expect a good game, given how both have been scoring regularly so far this season. Hopefully the new manager forces his team to go for this one, as the EFL Cup is a winnable trophy for his team.
LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 2-1