After a convincing 3-0 win over Huddersfield Town at the King Power stadium on the opening day of January, Claude Puel’s Leicester City managed to cling on to a spot in the Top 10 of the Premier league table. Under Puel, the Foxes have recovered from near relegation territory to a respectable 9th, this even after a spell of 4 winless games in December. Leicester looked like regaining their glory days of 2015-16 when in a 5-match winning streak in the November-December phase, they bested clubs top half clubs like Tottenham, Burnley and Southampton. Although nowhere near the title winning form of two seasons ago, players like Riyad Mahrez and Marc Albrighton look to be returning to their best. Mahrez has already had a hand in as many as 14 goals this season – 7 goals and 7 assists which is way better than 2016-17’s figures of 6 goals and 3 assists. While visiting Stamford Bridge on Saturday this weekend for a very trying Premier League outing, Foxes fans will expect the Algerian to show the same kind of fluid understanding he showed along with strikers Jamie Vardy and Islam Slimani in recent games. Claude Puel rested Vardy for the FA Cup clash against Fleetwood last Saturday as the England striker is yet to fully recover from a groin injury. Also given a pass for the Fleetwood clash were names like Mahrez, Albrighton and goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, keeping in mind the big Stamfoed Bridge game on the 13th.
Chelsea are now playing like the title-holders they were last season and lost just one game in their last 13 since October and winning in as many as nine.Coach Antonio who made 9 changes in last weekend’s FA Cup clash against Norwich City (in which they were surprisingly held to a 0-0 draw) will have all his main players back in action. Conte will maintain his current season’s favourite fornmation of 3-5-1-1 which has seen men like Eden Hazard hitting high notes upfront and folks like Zappacosta and Marco Alonso have improved hugely in the wings and also helped themselves to goals. Danny Drinkwater will be facing his former club for the first time and will be sharing the midfield space with the highly creative N’Golo Kante. Ace striker Alvaro Morata’s form has been of some concern of late with the Spaniard missing out on scoring opportunities even on numerous one-on-one situations. The defensive work of Azpilicueta, Rudiger and Cahill has been exemplery with the Blues conceding just six from their previous 13 Premier league clashes.
The only thing going for Leicester when they visit West London will be that it could be a slightly weary Chelsea side facing them. The Blues host a mid-week FA Cup semi-final clash against Arsenal with whom they just came out of a gruelling 2-2 draw on the 4th. But depite their packed schedule, the hosts are rank favourites to win January 13th’s clash with the visiting Foxes and comfortably remain in the Top three of the EPL table.
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