Chelsea has returned to winning ways, albeit with a less than convincing performance against its closest west London rivals, Fulham. Frank Lampard and his players have come under intense scrutiny with the sudden change in form. Going on a 17-game unbeaten run and then winning two games in eight immediately after, would worry fans and management of any club.
Lampard came under a lot of heat for his team selection in the Fulham game, many of the criticisms do not take into account the fact that the Blues would play another game in less than 72 hours. Lampard’s team selection this time will show if he was just being careful of his players’ fitness or if he has indeed decided to drop certain players undeserving of it.
Here’s who we think Lampard’s gives the go ahead based on a mixture of factors:
Edouard Mendy (No.16) Goalkeeper, Senegal
It’s not difficult to see why Edouard Mendy will start. He started his Chelsea career excellently, but he has been brought back from his honeymoon now. The Senegalese shot-stopper is gradually regaining his confidence and an example of that is a clean sheet against a Fulham side that scored against Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur. The better the attackers he faces, the more he’ll improve. He was alert throughout the Fulham game and he performed the basics well.
Reece James (No. 24) Right back, England
Reece James is likely to return to the line-up after Lampard has confirmed his availability. He didn’t have a good game against Arsenal, but then again no one did. He has been one of Chelsea’s more consistent defenders though, and his contribution to the attack, as well as the defense, will be key to getting past Leicester. He will also be coming up against some very quick and intelligent players, so he’ll need to be alert for 90′ and then some.
Kurt Zouma (No. 15) Centerback, France
Lampard excluded Kurt Zouma from the starting line-up at the weekend and then gave the speech about leadership and bad form. It is more likely that Zouma was rested for the Leicester contest as he has been playing a lot of games lately. The Frenchman has been the Blues’ best centerback since the beginning of last season and his presence on the pitch gives Chelsea many advantages, physical and technical. The Blues have struggled to threaten from corners in the absence of the Frenchman and their back line has also missed someone whose first priority is to clear the danger. In Zouma, Chelsea has a notable aerial advantage against the Leicester duo of Caglar Soyuncu and Wesley Fofana, who win on average 54 percent of their aerial duels, compared to Zouma’s 72 percent.
Thiago Silva (No. 6) Centerback, Brazil
Due to the quick turnover of games, it is difficult to say whether or not Thiago Silva starts again. What is easy to say though, is that Silva was outstanding against Fulham, which was worth noting because it was a difficult game. He has developed a strong partnership alongside Zouma. His distribution is superb and he has played an important role in Chelsea’s attacks this season. He has taken very little time to settle into the intensity of the Premier League, and while he has had some subpar performances in certain games, he has generally done alright for a 36-year-old playing in the Premier League for the first time.
Ben Chilwell (No. 21) Left back, England
Ben Chilwell has been very good for Chelsea this season. He started his Blues’ league career with a goal and an assist and has since shown his class amongst the big boys. His positional awareness and passing ability would be crucial if Chelsea is to nullify—or at least contain—Leicester’s threats. His superb crossing technique would also come in handy against his former team, who may not be as good in the air as the Blues.