Leicester City v Chelsea EPL Match Preview
On Monday evening, the current leaders of the Barclays Premier League Leicester City, host reigning champions Chelsea, at the King Power Stadium.
THE DREAM IS STILL ALIVE FOR RANIERI’S MEN
Still the question on everyone’s lips is when do we take Leicester City’s title challenge seriously? As we head towards a crucial part of the Premier League season, with games coming thick and fast up to and including the Christmas and New Year period, Claudio Ranieri’s men are out on their own as league leaders in a season that is becoming the stuff of dreams for their supporters. With the coach and his number one striker Jamie Vardy, scooping up the awards for manager and player of the month for November, a match against the defending champions will be another huge test of their true championship potential. The wise old Italian tactician is keeping everyone’s feet on the floor, stating that it’s just about reaching the magical 40 point mark to ensure top-flight survival, but a place in next season’s Champions League, for a side that has only lost once all season, is now a very real possibility. The best football betting sites currently price them at *4.50 to do just that.
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE QUALIFICATION DEFLECTS FROM CHELSEA’S FRAILTIES
After Wednesday night’s win against Porto ensuring top-spot in their Champions League qualification section, Chelsea defender John Terry explained that this could be the catalyst for the club to push on this season both domestically and in Europe. He also stated that teams “Wouldn’t fancy coming to Stamford Bridge” to play his side. Well, newly promoted Bournemouth enjoyed their trip last weekend, inflicting another embarrassing defeat on Jose Mourinho’s side, who slumped to their fourth defeat in six games – Terry may want to re-think his strategy. A trip to the league leaders after such a busy week is probably not the game that Mourinho would have chosen, but when he looked at the fixture list at the start of the campaign, he surely would never have envisaged the East Midland’s club to be 17 points in front of his own charges.
It’s pretty much as you were for Ranieri in regards to team selection for the visit of the champions; His only missing personnel being Matthew James and Ritchie de Laet. With Jamie Vardy’s current goalscoring run over, the ammunition last weekend was provided by the outstanding Algerian midfielder Riyad Mahrez (Quoted at *4.00 on the betting exchanges to be an anytime scorer on Monday), who grabbed a hattrick at Swansea City. Vardy will once again lead the line and will be anxious to get back on the scoresheet in front of the home fans.
Cesc Fàbregas is vying for a return to Chelsea’s starting line-up having been relegated to the substitute’s bench in mid-week. The pace of Vardy could be a key factor in Mourinho’s team selection on Monday, with the pace of Kurt Zouma giving him the vote over Gary Cahill in the heart of the defence. Colombian striker Radamel Falcao remains Chelsea’s only doubt for the trip north.
PROBABLE STARTING XI’S
Leicester City (4-4-2) Schmeichel; Fuchs, Huth, Morgan, Simpson; Albrighton, Kanté, Drinkwater, Mahrez; Vardy, Ulloa
Chelsea (4-2-3-1) Courtois; Azpilicueta, Zouma, Terry, Ivanovic; Matic, Fàbregas; Hazard, Oscar, Willian; Costa
HEAD TO HEAD
Chelsea have won the last six league meetings between the two sides but have only won one of their last eight away games in this campaign. Since losing 1-3 at home to the Blues in last season’s corresponding fixture in April, Leicester have lost just one of their last 19 Premier League encounters. The Foxes last home win against the team from the capital however, came back in February 2001.
Leicester City 3.20 Draw 3.50 Chelsea 2.35
*odds courtesy of Bet365
Steve Mitchell (@barafundler)