Hull v Chelsea Match Preview (Premier League) – Saturday 1st October 2016

After three league games without a win, Chelsea really need to gain three points at the KCOM Stadium. The players have had a week to reflect on their dismantling by Arsenal, but will they improve here? Antonio Conte has no doubt been drilling them defensively, so they’ve got to up their game at the back against the Tigers.

Hull have lost their last two games by a pretty heavy margin, which has seen them tumble down the table. After Arsenal beat them 4-1, they went to Anfield and lost 5-1. They still haven’t appointed a permanent manager, with Mike Phelan in caretaker charge so far. They have a very thin squad which doesn’t look up to it at this level, so this is a great opportunity for the Blues.

However, recent games have seen Conte’s men struggle. David Luiz and Gary Cahill were torn apart by Arsenal’s attack last week. The Blues have been given a boost with John Terry expected to return. Kurt Zouma isn’t too far away either, he could return in two to three weeks. That should lead to an improvement at the back, with more leadership and some competition for places.

Last weekend saw a move to 3-5-2 for Chelsea late in the game. Their issues seemed to be fixed by that tweak, but it’s unlikely we’ll see that formation in from the start here. While the switch seemed to give the Blues more options on the ball, it’s not one that John Terry can really play in.

Playing with wing backs leaves Terry exposed, as there’s no full back to his left. He’d also have a rampaging David Luiz to his left, which would leave him even more exposed. Conte isn’t going to leave the captain out after his return, and he won’t play in a fashion that makes the defender vulnerable. A return to the usual 4-1-4-1 is likely.

Despite back to back defeats, we probably won’t see too many changes from Conte. With neither Oscar or Cesc Fabregas really impressing in the league, he could slot Michy Batshuayi in and switch to his 4-2-4 formation. That does seem like a risky move given how poorly they’ve been at the back.

Despite Hull’s struggles, they need to be taken seriously. Their spirit led them to six points from their opening two games. While they were hammered in their last two league games, they’re facing very different opposition. Plus, the Blues struggled here two years ago on their way to the title. They had to work for a 3-2 victory.

If the Blues can remain focused, this is a great chance for them to take a much needed win. Terry’s return should make a big difference, and the Tigers aren’t packed with goals. If Conte figures out a way to keep Robert Snodgrass quiet, they’d struggle. We’re backing the Blues to edge this one, as they recover from their recent rough patch.

LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 2-1