Chelsea heads to Leicester City following arguably its biggest win of the season as the Blues look to advance to the FA Cup semifinals.
Chelsea travels to the King Power Stadium on Sunday for an FA Cup clash with the Foxes. Here are some of the things to look out for:
1. Decision making in the final third
Chelsea has suffered from poor decision making in the final third for several seasons. This has often cost the Blues in games, leading to losses or sometimes needless draws. For a team that is not bursting with technical quality, it is essential that they maximize chances of goals when they get the opportunity. Christian Pulisic performs better in this regard, Willian has improved, but there’s too much room for improvement on this front.
Chelsea would get better results if the attack made better decisions in the final third. Hakim Ziyech should improve this aspect of the Blues’ game, but until he can kick a ball for Chelsea, the current first team players have to work hard at it. First time passes to play a teammate in on goal often catches opposing teams off guard, the Blues need to utilize this and add more quality when in possession.
2. Lampard’s team selection
Before the Coronavirus break, Lampard was not getting his rotation spot on. He overplayed Tammy Abraham and only when Abraham got injured did he consider other options. Winning at Leicester City will not be easy, but for this final stretch of the season, Lampard should prioritise the Premier League over cup competitions anyways.
Chelsea has a lot of depth in its squad. Some quality players won’t even be named among the 20 players on the team sheet at the King Power Stadium. Billy Gilmour, Fikayo Tomori (if healthy), Callum Hudson-Odoi (if healthy) and Reece James are some of the players that should be trusted for this clash. Take note of Lampard’s team selection because it’ll give you a sense of where his priorities are.
3. Leicester’s team selection
Chelsea is one-point behind Leicester in the league table. Chelsea has already played its direct rival for a Champions League place twice in the league this season. Expect Brendan Rodgers to rotate as much as he can because he would also want to save his best guys for the top four race. Leicester has not been in good form lately, so the Foxes will also be looking to get a good result to try gather some momentum. This leaves Rodgers in a tricky spot because Leicester has to put out a team that ensures they don’t get pummeled. Yet, Rodgers still has to make sure the Foxes rest a lot of key players. It’ll be interesting to see how the Leicester boss handles this scenario.
4. Chelsea’s centerback pairing
Antonio Rudiger did not impress against Manchester City, but he wasn’t noticeable, which is a relatively good thing for a centerback. That said, Chelsea still has Fikayo Tomori and Kurt Zouma, neither of whom have made an appearance since football resumed. Zouma should be starting over Rudiger, but since he isn’t, he should start against Leicester City. Tomori should also start with Zouma, if he is fully fit. It will be interesting to see who Lampard decides to play at the centerback position as he may decide to pair someone with Christensen for steadiness and then later take off Christensen to give minutes to another player. It is an important match though, so Lampard cannot afford to just rotate the whole team.
5. Set pieces
Chelsea defended set pieces well against Manchester City, which is thing to celebrate in itself. It is good that Chelsea has improved in set piece defending, but can the Blues continue it? There was a free kick where Fernandinho was left unmarked by the edge of the six-yard box and he nearly scored in the Blues last match, which suggests the defense is still a bit shaky on set pieces.
Chelsea would do well to not make blatant mistakes like that anymore. Unfortunately, Chelsea’s threat is still non-existent in attacking set pieces. Free kicks are poor, corner kicks are even more poor. So much so, John Terry weeps from his living room watching the Blues take set pieces. Chelsea’s threat is not complete until the team poses a substantial goal-scoring threat both from open play and in set pieces. Will Chelsea attacking set piece situation improve against Leicester? Will the Blues continue to improve in defending set-pieces? Find out on Sunday.
What do you think are some things to look for against Leicester? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!