Chelsea travels to the King Power Stadium for a mid-week match against Leicester City, what are the things to watch for in the contest?
Chelsea is looking to win back-to-back Premier League matches for the first time since November, but trips to the King Power Stadium are never a walk in the park. Leicester City—much like last season—has gotten off to a brilliant start to the campaign and will look to improve its league standing against the Blues. The Foxes have a firm hold on top four at the moment, which is where Chelsea is trying to end up. Frank Lampard will be coaching for his job and this is easily the Blues’ biggest fixture of the season thus far.
Here are three things to look for in the game:
1. How will Frank Lampard manage the match?
One of the most concerning aspects of Chelsea’s contest at Craven Cottage was Lampard’s management. The gaffer sent out a shaky starting XI to see off the Cottagers and although the job was done in the end, it was a risky move nonetheless. There are two intriguing tactical aspects to keep an eye on against Brendan Rodgers’ men: Lampard’s line-up and his formation. First, let’s take a look at the starting team.
Some star players were left out of the Blues’ side at the weekend, including Kurt Zouma, Reece James, Tammy Abraham, Kai Havertz and Timo Werner. N’Golo Kante was absent through suspension, but he will return against Leicester. There will be question marks everywhere in the line-up—aside from between the sticks. The biggest uncertainty is in central defense. Zouma is almost a guarantee to start, who will his partner be though? Thiago Silva seldom plays consecutive matches, especially when they are this close together and travel is involved. Antonio Rudiger started alongside Silva against Fulham, Andreas Christensen is nursing an injury and Fikayo Tomori is on his way to Milan. Therefore, it’s anybody’s guess.
Havertz’s return to the midfield is a huge possibility, as well, with Mateo Kovacic having played in the West London Derby. Further, with a fully fit squad, nobody knows who will lead the Blues’ line. One would imagine Chelsea would line up with a front three of Abraham, Christian Pulisic and Callum Hudson-Odoi, but Lampard is as unpredictable as ever with his line-up cards these days.
Perhaps before predicting the starting XI, we must think about Lampard’s desired tactics in this clash. Chances are he’ll stick with the tried and tested 4-3-3, but the manager tinkered around with the 4-4-2 towards the end of the previous match. If we learned anything from the FA Cup quarterfinal against the Foxes back in June, it’s that the midfield has to be precise and upbeat or risk being pressed out of possession frequently. The midfield duo of Kovacic and Mount worked to perfection towards the end of the Fulham match, but it isn’t enough to withstand the constant pressure of Leicester.