With the international break over, Chelsea are back in Premier League action this weekend. They kick off the weekend in Saturday’s early game. Champions Leicester are the visitors to Stamford Bridge, can Antonio Conte’s men avoid going 2-0 down to the Foxes this time around? Hopefully the return of John Terry can stop that from happening again.
The Blues are seventh in the table after their win at Hull last time out. They’re just three points off fourth spot, and five behind leaders Manchester City. There’s also a five point gap between Conte’s side and Leicester, who are back in 12th. Their title defence is going about as well as Chelsea’s last term. Will their poor run continue here?
Leicester’s recent away games in the league have seen them lose heavily to both Liverpool and Manchester United. They are hardly going to be that confident heading to Stamford Bridge. What makes this trip even tougher is that Terry is finally back. But that fact might actually leave Conte with a few problems ahead of this clash.
The win over Hull saw the Blues line up in a 3-5-2 formation, a switch which they first used away to Arsenal the week before. The change worked well in the end, as the Tigers were comfortably beaten, despite some teething problems in the first half. However, that’s not a formation that Terry can slot into.
The centre-half likes to half a left-back close to him to cover any balls which get past him. Playing him beside a wing-back leaves him exposed, and can force the captain to take up a makeshift left-back role at times. That’s not something which would suit him, and it may actually cause more problems for the defence.
It’s pretty interesting that this fixture back in May was set to be Terry’s Stamford Bridge farewell. He ended up getting suspended for the match, and his contract was eventually renewed. Now he makes a return in the same fixture, with recent weeks proving just how valuable the captain is, even in his mid-thirties.
Basically, Conte has to either switch back to the back four, or leave Terry out completely. The coach also could have another option at the back, as Kurt Zouma is nearing a return. He’ll be back for selection next weekend at the latest, but he could feature here. The Frenchman has been missing since February, his return has been long awaited.
We trust the former Italy coach to make the most of his choices at the back. We’re backing the Blues to keep a clean sheet here, and record back to back victories. With a tough few weeks ahead, Conte could really do with three points on the board. They really can’t afford to fall much further off the pace in the race for the top four.
LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 2-0