Expect Chelsea to close the gap between themselves and first-placed Manchester City when champions Leicester City travel to Stamford Bridge this weekend (12.30pm Saturday, Sky Sports 1).
Antonio Conte’s side ran out 2-0 winners at Hull City before the international break, a much-needed victory following back-to-back defeats by probable top-four rivals Liverpool and Arsenal.
The Blues switched to a 3-4-3 formation at the KCOM Stadium after employing a 4-1-4-1 setup in their previous Premier League encounters this season. While their performance in the first half was rather clunky and incoherent, Chelsea did look impressive in their new shape after the break.
Victor Moses (pictured), who started his first top-flight game for the west Londoners since May 2013, N’Golo Kante and Diego Costa all did well in the new system, which affords Chelsea greater protection at the back and should also suit the likes of Eden Hazard and Willian further forward.
Leicester have also had a difficult few weeks in the Premier League, with Claudio Ranieri’s side currently down in 12th place following their remarkable title triumph last time out. The Foxes have won only one of their last four games in the top flight, the most recent of which was a disappointing goalless draw at home to Southampton.
The East Midlanders’ focus for the season appears to be on the Champions League. In many ways that is perfectly understandable. After all, it will not be possible for Leicester to trump their domestic achievements in 2015/16 anyway, but Ranieri will still be keen for his side to battle for a European qualification spot this year.
Chelsea are hoping to have Moses, John Terry and Mikel John Obi available for selection after the trio’s various injuries, but Kurt Zouma (knee) remains sidelined until later this month at the earliest. Cesar Azpilicueta is likely to move to right wing-back if Terry does return to the starting line-up as part of a defensive line of three, with Nemanja Matic and Kante set to continue alongside one another in the middle of the park. Conte will be relying on Hazard and Willian to start chipping in with more goals soon. Costa has netted six times in his seven appearances so far this term, exactly half of Chelsea’s overall total in the Premier League.
Leicester will have to make do without the services of long-term absentee Matty James, but Danny Drinkwater and Shinji Okazaki are both expected to be fit following a groin strain and ankle problem respectively.
Ranieri will probably keep faith with the 4-4-2 formation that brought him and his players so much success in 2015/16. New signing Islam Slimani, ho has proven his worth in recent clashes with Burnley and Porto, is set to continue as a partner to Jamie Vardy up top. Daniel Amartey again looks likely to be deployed ahead of Papy Mendy as Drinkwater’s colleague in the centre of midfield. Kasper Schmeichel should get the nod ahead of Ron-Robert Zieler between the sticks.
Our Preview’s Chelsea v Leicester Betting Tips
Chelsea have certainly had their problems in the opening weeks of the campaign but this preview concludes that they will still probably prove too strong for the defending champions at Stamford Bridge this weekend.
Leicester will implement their usual strategy of sitting deep, ceding possession and attempting to hit their opponents on the counter-attack when the ball is turned over. While they will probably have some success against a Chelsea unit that has not exactly looked defensively solid so far this term, they may struggle to contain Costa and co. at the other end of the field. A 2-1 home win with the Spain international scoring the first goal could therefore be the best option in terms of betting tips.
- Correct Score Betting Tip: The home side are 8/13 to win this match, but take Chelsea to beat Leicester by a scoreline of 2-1 at best betting odds of 8/1 with Bet365 or BetVictor.
- First Scorer Betting Tip: The man is in form, so expect Diego Costa to score the first goal of the game at a best current price of 10/3 with Bet365.
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Greg Lea is a freelance sports writer. Read the articles that he has written at Just Bookies.