Leicester v Chelsea
Saturday February 1st, Premier League
Match preview by Will Reilly.
Leicester are third in the Premier League table with 48 points, eight ahead of fourth-placed Chelsea. A semi-final exit from the Carabao Cup on Tuesday has, though, taken off some of the gloss from what has been a good season so far.
Chelsea enter a month that will probably define their campaign: home to Leicester, away to Man Utd then home to Tottenham in the league followed by Bayern Munich at home in their Round of 16, first-leg tie in the Champions League.
Despite some initially positive noises from the club, they have yet to sign anyone in the January transfer window.
Leicester: Defeats at home to Southampton and away to Burnley, both by a score of 2-1, looked like derailing their season. A 4-1 win at home to West Ham in the league and a 1-0 win at Brentford in the FA Cup steadied things – until Tuesday’s surprise exit from the Carabao Cup at the semi-final stage at the hands of Aston Villa.
They have kept just two clean sheets in their last 14 games (all competitions) and their last seven league games have each produced over 2.5 goals.
Jamie Vardy (who was on the bench against Villa as he recovers from a gluteal muscle injury), tops this season’s Premier League goal-scoring table with 17 goals (with a 68% shots-on-target ratio) and has scored one goal in his last five Premier League starts (five in his last ten). Ayone Perez has scored three goals in his last four league starts. Kelechi Iheanacho has scored on each of his last two starts for Leicester.
In only five of their Premier League matches this season has a side scored more than one goal against them.
In a topsy-turvy season, it’s remarkable that Chelsea are still in fourth place in the table, particularly when you realise that they have taken just 14 points from a possible 36 in their last 12 league matches.
They also struggle to keep a clean sheet, having achieved a shut-out just five times in 24 league games this season. They have kept a clean sheet in just two of their last 12 matches.
Tammy Abraham has had a good season (13 league goals, including seven in his last seven league starts), but he could miss out through an ankle injury and a consistent back-up striker seems hard to find. Olivier Giroud has, effectively, been frozen out and Michy Batshuayi, who rarely starts a game, remains hit and miss.
Eight different players have scored for Chelsea in their last nine games.
As mentioned earlier, February looks set to define their season.
HEAD TO HEADS
Between October 2001 and April 2015, Chelsea registered eight wins from eight meetings with Leicester.
Between December 2015 and August 2019, the sides have met nine times in the league, with Chelsea winning three times and Leicester winning twice.
At home, Leicester have beaten Chelsea just once in the league this century in eight meetings, with only one of the games ending in a draw.
Jamie Vardy’s gluteal muscle injury will be assessed in the build-up to the match. Nampalys Mendy (knee) is still out (he is expected to return in March), while Daniel Amartey is a long-term absentee after breaking his ankle in 2018.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Achilles) and Christian Pulisic (abductor) are still sidelined. Tammy Abraham (ankle) is touch and go, although, with a 16-day break before Chelsea’s next game after Leicester (at home to Man Utd), reports are suggesting that he may play.
VERDICT / TIPS:
If you trust the stats then over 2.5 goals in a match that does not end in a draw is likely. They also favour a Chelsea win. Both Teams To Score and Chelsea to win is 16/5. Chelsea/Draw No Bet is 10/11.
Chelsea’s porous defence and its inability to deal with crosses that land near the six-yard box certainly makes a clean sheet unlikely for them. In fact, neither side has been good at keeping a clean sheet this season.
Conversely, given that Leicester have rarely conceded more than on goal per game in the league this season, Leicester to win and for there to be over 2.5 goals in the match is on offer at 12/5. Leicester Draw No Bet, which would be my fancy, is on offer at 4/5
As it’s a Double The Odds On First Goalscorer Bets match with us, Jamie Vardy is an obvious choice at 4/1 (at the time of publication) if he plays