Chelsea v Everton Betting Tips (Premier League) – 5th November 2016

Everton are the visitors to Stamford Bridge this weekend, as they look to build on their win last weekend. The Toffees saw off West Ham on Sunday, which moved them up to sixth in the table. Can they climb even further with a shock win at the Bridge? They do have a pretty strong record against the Blues of late, but the home side are in great form.

These two last met in the FA Cup back in March, when Everton ended Chelsea’s last hopes of a trophy and chances of qualifying for Europe. That was a bitter blow in a tough season, especially going down to Roberto Martinez, who ended up losing his job at the end of the campaign. Ronald Koeman is now looking to improve this side and get them competing for a place in Europe. He’ll be hoping for a result against the team who currently round off the top four.

Team News: Conte selection consistency paying off

Antonio Conte has named the same team for three consecutive league games, and he’s likely to do the same here. While he made plenty of changes for the West Ham match in the EFL Cup, he’s settled on a regular starting 11 in this 3-4-3 formation. John Terry should sit out once again, as this system would leave him pretty exposed. Kurt Zouma is still awaiting a return, while Cesc Fabregas is injured, he’s doubtful to appear on the bench.

The only potential change we could see is Willian coming in to play off Diego Costa. The Brazilian lost his place after heading home following the death of his mother. Since then, Pedro has kicked on and put in a few impressive displays. He seems to have a real understanding with Eden Hazard. While last season’s player of the year deserves a chance, it’s easy to see Conte sticking with the side who have won the last three league games.

Everton head into this game with a considerable injury list. Idrissa Gueye, often compared with N’Golo Kante, is suspended. His most likely replacements, Muhammed Besic and James McCarthy, are both injured. Goalkeeper Martin Stekelenburg is a doubt, and he’s been in inspired form for the Toffees this term. The visitors don’t have the biggest squad to work with, so they could be a little bit thin here. They do have former Blue Romelu Lukaku leading the line, which could prove significant.

Everton form

Everton started the season in brilliant form, drawing their opener and then winning four in a row. That run put them just behind City, and it sparked talk of a Champions League push. However, since then they’ve won just once in five, and crashed out of the EFL Cup to Championship side Norwich. Having been second after five games, they’re now sixth after 10. That makes Koeman’s reign difficult to judge. So far, he has a lot of support, even during a poor run of form.

Everton did get themselves a win last weekend, as they beat West Ham 2-0 on Sunday. That was a much-needed triumph, travelling here without a win in five would have been tough. The Toffees have had a little morale boost, and they’ll be hoping to claim a big scalp this weekend to aid their European push. They did claim a 1-1 draw at Manchester City recently, but they were helped by City’s awful run of form and Champions League distractions.

Chelsea v Everton Head to Head

Chelsea have won none of their last three against Everton, all of which came last season. The Toffees saw off the Blues at Goodison twice last term, while these two drew 3-3 in this fixture. The visitors were 2-0 up at one stage in that game, so it ended up being a good result for the Blues. Can Conte take the team back to their title winning form of 2014/15, when they won home and away against this weekend’s opponents?

  • Everton 2-0 Chelsea, Mar 2016
  • Chelsea 3-3 Everton, Jan 2016
  • Everton 3-1 Chelsea, Sep 2015
  • Chelsea 1-0 Everton, Feb 2015
  • Everton 3-6 Chelsea, Aug 2014

Betting Tips

  • Diego Costa to score – 19/20 with Betfair
  • Chelsea to win to nil – 19/10 with BetVictor

The head to head form between these two may throw you off the scent a little, but Chelsea are firm favourites for this game. Coral make them 8/13, and that’s the biggest price you can get on a home win here. Meanwhile, Everton are 9/2 outsiders for an away victory. That’s hardly surprising, seeing as the Toffees have won twice in their last 11 away league games.

We’re backing Diego Costa to find the net again on Saturday. The forward is the Premier League’s top scorer, finding the net eight times in his 10 matches this term. He’s back to the form from the Blues’ title winning season, and he’s on course to better his total of 20 goals from that season. We’re backing him to grab his ninth of the season in this clash. The Spain international has four goals in four games against Everton since joining the Blues. He’s priced at 19/20 with Betfair to score any time this weekend.

Our second bet is Chelsea to win to nil, after Conte’s side kept their fourth consecutive clean sheet against Southampton. The Blues have looked incredibly solid since switching to the 3-4-3. They adopted the new formation at Arsenal while 3-0 down, and they’ve not yet conceded a goal with three at the back.

This set up needs to face pacey, intelligent wingers to have problems, and that’s not something Everton have in their side. Their wide threat isn’t great, Yannick Bolasie and Kevin Mirallas both tend to drift inside. We can’t see Lukaku getting the service he needs, and we expect the back three to marshal him well. That’s why we’re backing another win and clean sheet, which is priced at 19/10 with BetVictor.

Southampton v Chelsea Betting Tips (Premier League) – 30th October 2016

In-form Chelsea head to Southampton on Sunday, looking to continue their impressive winning run. The Blues won here last season, but can they boost their push for the top four with another victory at St Mary’s? This will be another significant test of the new system, which has helped send the team on a fantastic run of form.

Southampton finished sixth in the Premier League last season, qualifying for Europe in the process. They may have had another turbulent summer, but recent weeks have seen them turn their fortunes around and start to move up the table. This stadium is a tough place for any side to travel to, so Antonio Conte and co can’t expect an easy ride of things on the South Coast.

Team News: Conte unlikely to rock the boat

Conte isn’t likely to make too many changes after three straight wins. He named the same team for the last two league games, and he made one enforced change between the victories over Hull and Leicester. His switch to three at the back has seen a marked improvement across the side, although there doesn’t seem to be a place for John Terry in that system. So far, he’s been kept out of the team by Cesar Azpilicueta, Gary Cahill and David Luiz.

We said that the United game would tell us a little more about Conte’s centre-back pecking order. He’s made a statement there; leaving John Terry out is a sign that he isn’t an automatic pick for the big games. Terry faces even more competition in the coming weeks, with Kurt Zouma returning from injury and fighting for a place. The Frenchman just returned to action with the development squad, he played for them in midweek. Once he gets enough minutes, expect him to be fighting for a starting berth. The only realistic switch for this game is the return of Willian, but that would even be a little harsh on Pedro, who has put in two strong performances.

Southampton are missing forward Shane Long, while midfielder Jeremy Pied is also out. The Saints have former Blue Ryan Bertrand back in the side, but their defence has been hit by injuries. Cedric Soares, Matt Targett and Florin Gardos are all expected to miss out. Could that open up their tight defence for the visit of Chelsea? It’s good news for Diego Costa, who is currently the league’s top scorer.

Southampton Form

Southampton made a stuttering start to the season, but they’ve really picked up in recent weeks. They claimed a 1-1 draw at Manchester City last weekend, and they’ve won four straight matches at St Mary’s. Those victories have lifted them up to eighth. They’re having a mixed season in the Europa League, but they did completely dominate Inter Milan at the San Siro last week. They may have lost 1-0 away to the Serie A side, but they showed their class by controlling that game.

The Saints had put together a strong defensive record to lift them out of trouble. They had put together a run of six consecutive clean sheets, before conceding in three consecutive games in a week. Shipping a goal away at the Etihad and San Siro isn’t that bad, while they conceded against Burnley in a 3-1 victory. Cluade Puel’s side are a solid unit, and they are building on top of that, with striker Charlie Austin in fantastic scoring form. Can he be the latest to expose Cahill and Luiz’s flaws at the back, or will they keep the former QPR man quiet here?

Chelsea v Southampton Head to Head

The two meetings between these sides last season saw away victories in each, with the game at Stamford Bridge resulting in a 3-1 win for the Saints. That was during the troubled early season under Jose Mourinho, before Guus Hiddink led them to a 2-1 win at St Mary’s in February. Recent meetings have been fairly level, with the Saints becoming an established top eight side in the top flight in recent years. We can see another close encounter when they clash this weekend.

  • Southampton 1-2 Chelsea, 27th Feb 2016
  • Chelsea 1-3 Southampton, 3rd Oct 2015
  • Chelsea 1-1 Southampton, 15th Mar 2015
  • Southampton 1-1 Chelsea, 28th Dec 2014
  • Southampton 0-3 Chelsea, 1st Jan 2014

Betting Tips

  • Draw – 12/5 with BetVictor
  • 1-1 Draw – 6/1 with Bet365

The Blues come into this one in an impressive run of form, but this is a very difficult place for any side to go. Southampton have really improved after a few dodgy results early on, but they have a strong foundation that they always seem to find after a big summer of losing stars. The Blues haven’t yet ventured too far with their new set up. They did win at Hull, but recent results have shown that’s not really an achievement.

The Hull game actually highlighted a few problems with the system, as those first 45 minutes were really tough for the Blues. It’s easy to see another away trip causing them problems, especially against a side who will be among the top eight once again this term. There are quite a few talented players still at St Mary’s, and we think they’re good enough to hold Chelsea to a draw on Sunday. It’s 12/5 with BetVictor for these two to share the points.

This fixture has always tended to have goals, and we can’t see this game being any different. Given how the Saints are looking a little light at the back, but strong in attack, it’s hard to see there being a clean sheet here. If you look back on the last five meetings, there’s only been one clean sheet. We’re backing a score draw when these two clash. A 1-1 final score is our second tip, it’s a 6/1 shot with Bet365. We’ve seen that scoreline twice in the last four meetings between these two and it looks the option to back.

West Ham v Chelsea Betting Tips (EFL Cup) – 26th October 2016

West Ham host Chelsea on Wednesday evening in what is very likely to be a hard-fought EFL Cup encounter at London Stadium. The club will be hoping for the battles to stay on the pitch of course, and an alcohol ban and a “robust policing plan” have been put in place to ensure things don’t get too nasty between the fans.

Here though we’ll focus on the game itself and it could be a real cracker. With both managers supremely eager to bring some silverware to their respective clubs, we fancy both will opt for strong teams in this one. After Chelsea’s emphatic 4-0 victory over Man United, will they kick on in style against the Hammers, or will the home side build on their back-to-back 1-0 league victories?

Team News: Terry Set to Warm Bench Again

It seems that John Terry is far from an automatic selection for Chelsea these days, especially after Chelsea kept a clean sheet against Man United on Sunday while he looked on from the bench. We expect him to start as sub once again, with the trio of Cesar Azpilicueta, David Luiz and Gary Cahill set to play. Kurt Zouma is on the way back from injury and might feature on the bench.

For West Ham, Slaven Bilic is likely to stick with the crux of the side which earned a 1-0 victory over Sunderland last time out. There are no fresh injury worries to contend with (obviously Andy Carroll is still absent!) so it will be simply a matter of whether or not Bilic feels he should shuffle his pack for this one.

West Ham Form

Prior to their win over the Black Cats on Saturday, West Ham had earned only four points from four home league matches this season. In fact, since their campaign started prematurely way back in July in the Europa League, the Hammers have won just five of their 14 games in all competitions.

Things might be starting to turn around a little for Bilic and his men. After an appalling run of four straight defeats in August/September, West Ham have won three and drawn one from five matches. Having just put together back-to-back wins for the first time this season, the Irons will go into this game in confident mood. Whether or not that confidence proves to be misplaced remains to be seen, of course.

West Ham v Chelsea Head to Head

All the meetings between these sides in recent years have been in the Premier League, with the last being on the opening day of the current season. While Chelsea have had the upper hand on the whole, the Hammers have held their own on a number of occasions, and it has rarely been a walkover.

  • Chelsea 2-1 West Ham, Aug 2016
  • Chelsea 2-2 West Ham, Mar 2016
  • West Ham 2-1 Chelsea, Oct 2015
  • West Ham 0-1 Chelsea, Mar 2015
  • Chelsea 2-0 West Ham, Dec 2014

Betting Tips

  • Chelsea to win to nil – 23/10 at Coral
  • Eden Hazard to score first – 6/1 at BetVictor

Chelsea are the odds-on favourites to win this one, with Bet365 and others pricing them at 4/5. The draw is out at 3/1 with BetVictor while the home side can be backed at 19/5 with Betfred. Looking purely at the match result odds, there will be a fair few punters out there who see backing the home side as the best value option. We would agree if this match had taken place after Chelsea’s winless (in normal time) September, but we think they’ve turned a corner since.

Chelsea looked ruthless and determined when facing their old boss Jose Mourinho on Sunday and put Man United to the sword, winning 4-0. That result comes on the back of two other victories – 2-0 away against Hull and 3-0 at home against Leicester. If Antonio Conte has now found the formula that combines a solid defence and a decent attacking threat, the Blues could cruise to the win here against a West Ham side who have been somewhat inconsistent to say the least this season. As such, backing Chelsea to win the match without conceding – as they have done four times this term – could be worth a look at odds of 23/10 with Coral.

Conte’s 3-5-2 formation looks not only to be making the defence harder to penetrate, but it is also starting to give Eden Hazard the chance to shine once more. He scored against Man United – his fourth league goal of the current campaign – and the Belgian might well be afforded enough space to make an impact in this one. He is priced at best odds of 6/1 with BetVictor to get the opening goal of the game, and we think that is a price worth grabbing.

West Ham’s best hope of success in this one is to keep things as tight as possible for as long as possible. If Chelsea start with the vim and vigour they showed in the early stages against the Red Devils, this might prove a very difficult task for the home side. But if Bilic sends his troops out with a defensive mindset there is a fair chance they will make it to half time without conceding. Backing the draw at half time, or even the half time correct score of 0-0, are both options that hold some appeal at respective odds of 7/5 and 12/5, both with Bet365.

Of course, an early goal for the visitors could open the floodgates, as it did against United at Stamford Bridge, but on balance we think this one will turn out to be a narrow victory for Chelsea. Correct score bets are notoriously difficult to land but backing Chelsea to win and under 2.5 goals to be scored could be a decent option at 19/5 with Coral.

Chelsea v Manchester United Match Preview (Premier League) – 23rd October 2016

This weekend sees Jose Mourinho’s return to Stamford Bridge, but it’s also a huge test for Antonio Conte. Having lost their two big games this season, how will his side get on against Manchester United? We expect another 3-4-3 formation, and this will be a huge test for the Blues’ new set up.

Of course, you’ll hear little about this game without Mourinho’s name being mentioned. Just 10 months on from his second sacking, the Portuguese takes Manchester United back to Stamford Bridge. Conte has already asked the fans to respect the returning manager, but you can bet there will be many who aren’t pleased with his move to Old Trafford.

Outside of that, there are some talking points in this game. Manchester United’s mixed start to the season sees them way off where they expected to be. They were tipped as title challengers, but they find themselves well off the pace in that regard. Having drawn 0-0 at Liverpool earlier this week, they can’t afford to slip up at the Bridge.

There are already plenty of sides who are ahead of these two in the title race. Gone are the days where the Premier League title was a straight fight between the Blues and the Red Devils. The way Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham have started, these two teams face a tough road just to get into the top four.

While this fixture isn’t the title decider it once was, it could define Conte’s time here. He can’t afford to lose a third huge game in just over a month. Since defeats to Liverpool and Arsenal, the Italian has made the switch to a 3-4-3 formation. That’s worked so far, but will it survive the scrutiny of Mourinho’s United?

The Red Devils aren’t a typical Mourinho team, he can’t really mould them as challenges come and go. He’s basically stuck with what he’s got, They’ve got a similar approach and set up for each game. We can’t see him doing too much differently to counter the Blues.

You’d imagine Victor Moses will have a point to prove here. Mourinho dispensed with him as soon as he arrived at the club in 2013. The Nigerian spent every season on loan when the manager was here, but recent games have seen him thrive in a right wing back role. He’ll be aiming to maintain the strong form he’s shown in the last two games.

One thing we could see here is the return of Kurt Zouma. The central defender picked up an injury in this fixture back in February. He’s closing in on a return, and he could appear here. The Frenchman has a lot of competition, with Cesar Azpilicueta, David Luiz and Gary Cahill starting ahead of John Terry last time out.

The Blues need a big display here to erase the awful performances they put in against Liverpool and Arsenal. We should know more about the formation change once this one gets going, and we’ll get a clearer picture of Conte’s pecking order at centre-half.

LCN verdict: 1-1 draw

‘I Want To Be A Number 10’, Says Hazard

Chelsea midfielder Eden Hazard has admitted that he wants to play as a number 10 but does not believe that the club will change their style of play enough to allow him to do it.

The Belgian played in a central position for his country in both of their World Cup qualifying matches during the international break, scoring in each game. Yet he’s not convinced that his club side’s new manager will adopt the same tactics as Roberto Martinez has for Belgium in order to allow him to play centrally.

The Italian has so far opted to stick Hazard on the left-hand side of the Chelsea since his arrival as the new head coach at Stamford Bridge, with the player suggesting the set-up of his international side suits his style of play more. Speaking to the Daily Mail the midfielder said that he is an attack-minded player and Belgium’s formation allows him to be on the front foot. He said, “I like to play as a No 10. I think I have more freedom offensively. For Belgium, we have full-backs who run hard and create a lot of space, which is good and I like to play there”.

Though Hazard was being slightly critical of the new man in the hot-seat at Stamford Bridge he still said he would give his all to help the side win; something he managed against the defending Premier League champions Leicester City at the weekend when he scored Chelsea’s second goal in a 3-0 win. He said, “I don’t know if I will play there at Chelsea. You need to ask the manager! I play on the left hand side and I try to do the best I can”.

The 25-year-old has operated on the left during various spells during his time in West London and excelled there. He is aware, however, that Conte rarely uses a formation that allows for a number 10, meaning that he will have to continue to do well from wide areas if he’s hoping to help the club enjoy some more success this year. He said, “It’s true I like to play as a 10. Sometimes at Chelsea we don’t play with [a] system with a No 10, too. I don’t think Chelsea wants to change just for me as a 10”.

Should Chelsea continue to suffer mixed results in the league and Hazard not be used in his favoured position then rumours about the midfielder’s future will undoubtedly begin to surface the closer we get to the January transfer window. The player himself insists his aim is to get back to the best form possible in the coming matches. He said, “I did well in the past as a left winger and, for now, I am trying to get back to that best again”.

Chelsea 3-0 Leicester Match Report (Premier League) – 15th October 2016

A dominant Chelsea performance saw them claim am easy three points against Premier League champions Leicester on Saturday. Goals from Diego Costa, Eden Hazard and Victor Moses sealed the win, which lifted quite a lot of pressure off Antonio Conte. He had been rumoured to be on his way out just days before, but now his side look full of confidence.

Conte continued with the 3-4-3formation which he used against Hull. There was just a single change from that victory, as Willian was absent after the death of his mother. Pedro stepped in for the Brazilian, playing alongside Eden Hazard in attacking midfield. That left John Terry on the bench, despite his return to fitness. He was alongside four other academy graduates, which is a very good sign for the club.

When the Blues tested out this new tactic against Hull, it took them 45 minutes to get used to it. They settled back into it from the start at Stamford Bridge, getting onto the scoresheet early. Costa’s opener came after just seven minutes, as he fired home after getting on the end of a flick on from Nemanja Matic. That move came from a corner, which seem to really trouble this Leicester defence at the moment.

David Luiz hit the post from a free-kick as Chelsea heaped the pressure onto the champions. Pedro and Hazard clicked in behind Costa, and they didn’t need any help for the second goal. The Spaniard played the ball through, and the Belgian rounded Kasper Schmeichel before scoring.

Things were a little more difficult in the second half. Leicester pushed to get back in the game, and they were almost helped by Luiz. He hit his own post, giving Thibaut Courtois a scare. Conte brought on Nathaniel Chalobah to sure things up in midfield, and the young Englishman did slightly more than that.

Victor Moses, who was fantastic again in the right wing back role, burst forward with pace, playing it to Chalobah. It was his first ever appearance at Stamford Bridge, despite it being his 100th professional game. The England under-21s man played Moses in with a back-heel, and the Nigerian applied the finish to make it three.

With the game wrapped up, Conte brought on two more young stars. Moses was replaced by Ola Aina, while Ruben Loftus-Cheek replaced Hazard. The manager seems to be making the most of the academy graduates. Dominic Solanke was also on the bench, and the manager’s substitutions give him a lot of hope, even if they don’t please Diego Costa. The forward publically yelled at Conte to make changes, a move which his manager clearly didn’t take too kindly to.

Next up for the Blues is a huge game with Manchester United. Jose Mourinho heads back to Stamford Bridge, with the new 3-4-3 likely to get a huge test.

LCN man of the match: Victor Moses

Conte Takes Rumours Of Being Sacked ‘With A Smile’

Antonio Conte admitted on Saturday that he finds rumours of his imminent departure from Stamford Bridge amusing and that he takes it all ‘with a smile’, having only been in the job for a few months.

The new Chelsea boss took over in West London after having led the Italy national side to the European Championship finals in France this summer. The British bookmakers believed that the former Juventus boss had more chance of being sacked from his new job than of winning the Premier League, according to the odds available at the time of his appointment. He led the Blues to three straight victories in their opening three games, however, ensuring he didn’t come under immediate pressure in the job.

Chelsea suffered a difficult September, though, drawing 2-2 with Swansea at The Liberty Stadium before losing 2-1 at home to Liverpool. Rumours emerged after the loss to Jürgen Klopp’s side that the club’s owner, Roman Abramovich, had held late night meetings with his director’s to decide on the manager’s future. These rumours were denied by the club, however a 3-0 loss away to Arsenal on the last weekend of the month did little to alleviate the pressure the Italian coach was under.

Football stories are notoriously thin on the ground during an international break, so the press were keen to report the news that several bookmakers had suspended betting on Antonio Conte being sacked as Chelsea manager in the coming days when it happened in the middle of last week. But Conte was unfazed by the rumours, saying, “I am trying to find out who put the money on, it’s very difficult”.

The 47-year-old refused to be drawn on the matter, insisting that his job was to figure out how to win games for Chelsea and help the club return to the top end of the table after they endured a troubled campaign last time out. He said, “It is difficult to talk about the situation because I am focused about my work and improving the team”.

The former Juventus player and manager was also quick to praise Chelsea officials for keeping him in the loop on everything and ensuring he feels secure in the job. Given the Blues’ poor start to the campaign last season – their worst in the top-flight since the 1960s – Conte believes it will take time to get the club back where it feels it belongs. He said, “I have a good relationship and communication with the club…We are working very hard to change the situation of the past, and the last season…We are trying to build something important for the present, for the future, and you can build only through the work and with time. But, I repeat, it is important to be focused in our target now”.

Chelsea beat Leicester City 3-0 at the weekend, sending them up to fifth place in the league table, level on points with Liverpool having played a game more. Conte admitted he was pleased to see former Blues manager Claudio Ranieri lift the Premier League title with Chelsea last season. He said, “I was very happy, not only me, but the Italian people that Claudio won a fantastic title. He had a great celebration in Italy. He is a good manager, a good man and I have a good relationship with him”.

Conte: We Must Continue To Follow Our Principles

Antonio Conte has said that it doesn’t matter which players get picked to start games for Chelsea, as long as the squad continues to stick to the principles that they have been working on since his arrival as head coach this summer.

The Italian was speaking to the press ahead of his side’s home game against the defending Premier League champions Leicester City this weekend. With John Terry having returned from injury for the match against the Foxes on Saturday it has left the manager with some difficult decisions to make. He said, “Tomorrow I have four central defenders and I have to take three. One must go on the bench.”

Chelsea switched to a three-at-the-back formation for their match against Hull before the international break, running out 2-0 winners at the KC Stadium. But Conte feels it is not the formation that matters so much as the ability to get the best out of the players he has available to him. He said, “We are finding the best solution to exact all the players’ talents. Against Hull City, we played a good game. Willian, Hazard and Costa played very well and they did what we want. We must continue in this way”.

The 46-year-old has been pleased with the way his side have been playing, matching up their defensive responsibilities with their desire to attack. He wants them to continue working hard in order to sure things up at the back, regardless of the formation he chooses to play. He said, “It’s right to have a team that is compact but with players that are very offensive and can create many offensive situations. It’s not important if we play with three or four at the back. It’s important to follow the principles we are working on. It was necessary to find a new solution because it’s not right a great team like Chelsea were conceding so many goals”.

Chelsea’s players will wear black armbands on Saturday in memory of their team-mate Willian’s mother, who passed away this week. Conte said, “For Willian we are very sad. We knew the problem with his mum. We are very sad, me, the players, the club. We are very close in this moment to our player. Our players are with him, and his family”.

Meanwhile N’Golo Kante is likely to line-up for Chelsea against his former club, having been an unused substitute when the two sides faced each other in the EFL Cup last month. Speaking of the French international his manager said, “He’s an important player. We are very pleased to have him with us. He’s a fantastic player. Good stamina, technique, personality. He has brought great will to fight. He’s a very humble man, a humble player. I like him and I like this type of player – that put the team before themselves”.

The Italian also had some words to say about the former Chelsea manager Claudio Ranieri who will be in the opposition dugout for Saturday’s early kick-off. Ranieri manager Chelsea from 2000 until 2004 and steered the Foxes to an unlikely Premier League title win last season. Speaking of his compatriot Conte said, “Claudio is a very nice man, above all a good manager….a good mentor”.

Conte is also hoping that Diego Costa will be able to keep his cool in the match this weekend. The fiery Brazilian-born Spanish international is just one booking away from a suspension, having come close to being sent off several times already this season. The Chelsea boss said, “We know the situation. Diego knows the situation. It was the same before the Hull game. We must think to the present, and not to look forward. Tomorrow he must fight in the same way he did in the previous games. I hope he pays attention and doesn’t get another yellow”.

Chelsea Sign Kit Deal With Nike

Chelsea Football Club have confirmed that this will be the last season in which their kits are made by Adidas, with the club having signed a record-breaking deal with the US sportswear company Nike to provide their kits from next season.

The Blues confirmed in May of this year that that they had reached a ‘mutual agreement’ with the German company Adidas to end their deal together six years earlier than originally planned. Adidas became Chelsea’s kit sponsor back in 2006 but the club decided to look elsewhere for next season instead of sticking with the sports giant until 2023 as the original contract would have had it.

Though they have had to pay tens of millions to Adidas as compensation, the kit deal with Nike is rumoured to be worth around £60 million per year for fifteen years, amounting to roughly £900 million over the course of the contract. Though the club declined to confirm any cash numbers it is believed to be worth nearly double the £30 million a season they got from Adidas.

Nike will not only produce kits for the first team but also for the Academy side as well as the Ladies team. One of Chelsea’s directors, Marina Granovskaia, praised the deal and noted that the club was partnering up with a company that shares their ideals. She said, “This is an incredibly exciting and important deal for the club. Like Chelsea, Nike is known around the world for its excellence and innovation and we look forward to working together in what is sure to be a successful partnership”.

Chelsea hope that the deal will not only help them to increase their financial revenue but also to grow and expand into markets that they are not currently well-known in. Granovskaia continued, “We believe Nike will be able to support our growth into new markets as well as helping us maintain our place among the world’s elite football clubs”.

It was a sentiment that was echoed by the US sportswear giants themselves. The President of Nike Brand, Trevor Edwards, said, “Chelsea is a world-class club with a rich tradition and passionate fans across the globe”.

He also went on to discuss the company’s desire to grow their brand in the football world, not only for clubs but also for the players and those that watch the game. He said, “The partnership with Chelsea reinforces our leadership position in football. We are excited to help grow the club’s global reach, serving players and supporters with Nike innovation and design”.

Though the deal is impressive it is still not the best kit deal in the Premier League. Manchester United are the club with the most lucrative sponsorship deal at present. Their deal with Chelsea’s former partners Adidas, which was signed in 2014, is worth £750 million over the course of ten years, or £75 million per year.

’No Conte Exit Talks’, Say Chelsea

Chelsea Football Club have been forced to deny reports that Antonio Conte is set to leave the club after bookmakers suspended betting on the Italian departing West London on Thursday.

Chelsea confirmed on the 4th of April this year that Conte would take over as manager for the 2016-2017 season, though he didn’t actually arrive at Stamford Bridge until after he had led the Italian national team to the European Championships in France this summer. Now the Blues have dismissed reports that he will be leaving his post after just three months in charge as ‘absolute nonsense’.

The 47-year-old signed a contract that will keep him at Chelsea until 2019, though the club’s owner Roman Abramovich is known to not give much credence to contracts when it comes to his managers. Numerous Chelsea bosses have lasted just eight months in the job, including the likes of André Villas-Boas and Luis Philippe Scolari. José Mourinho has also been sacked by the Russian on two separate occasions; most recently in December of last year after the self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ led the club to its worst start to a top-flight campaign in fifty years.

Conte won his first three games as Chelsea manager but endured a difficult September. The Blues drew 2-2 with Swansea City at the start of the month before losing 2-1 to Liverpool at Stamford Bridge. They did beat Leicester City in the EFL Cup but needed extra-time to do so, going in 2-0 down at half-time. They then lost 3-0 to London rivals Arsenal at The Emirates, meaning that they ended the month without a win in normal time and with only one point from a possible nine in the Premier League.

The performances of the former champions have left a lot to be desired, leading to the rumours that Abramovich is considering replacing the Italian already. In the wake of Chelsea’s 2-1 home loss to Liverpool the club had to deny that the Russian held late-night talks with his directors about the future of Conte. That came on the back of rumours that the former Italy national coach was unhappy that the Blues had failed to sign some of the players he wanted in the summer.

In spite of that Chelsea spent around £116 million during the summer. They brought in N’Golo Konte from the defending Premier League champions Leicester, Michy Batshuayi from Marseille as well as Marcos Alonso and they re-signed David Luiz from Paris Saint-Germain.

With Chelsea going up against the Foxes in the lunchtime kickoff this Saturday it’s fair to say that another home loss would see Antonio Conte coming under increasing pressure. The Italian led Juventus to three back-to-back Serie A titles from 2011 to 2014. He also helped Italy to qualify for the European Championships without losing a single game during the qualifying phase. Yet if the Blues lose again before the year is out then they may struggle to finish in the top four, let alone challenge for the title. That is the sort of failure that Roman Abramovich is not keen to witness.