Chelsea vs Leicester City: Preview and Prediction
Leicester City will welcome Chelsea at the King Power Stadium on Saturday as both teams will look to return to winning ways after having gone through a sorrowful year so far.
Despite spending heavily in the recently concluded transfer window, the Blues have only won three games on the trot in 2023. They have looked off-color and for a team with a penchant for making it to European competitions, their chances of qualifying for the Champions League look pretty grim.
Leicester, however, is in far worse shape than Chelsea right now. Ever since their triumphant run in the Premier League back in 2015-16, which they ultimately managed to win, the Foxes have witnessed a downward trajectory. So much so that they’re closer to the relegation zone than to the top four in the Premier League.
This is perhaps Chelsea’s worst run in the Premier League since the early 2000s. A team that looked impenetrable under Thomas Tuchel just a few months back, has only managed four league wins since November.
Wesley Fofana broke the deadlock and helped Chelsea beat Leeds United in the last match week. The victory came after harrowing defeats at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur, Southampton and Borussia Dortmund.
However, Chelsea has managed to win their last two games. The Blues saw a turnaround and defeated Dortmund at home, qualifying for the last 16 of the Champions League. Clearly, Potter will be hoping to use Chelsea’s win against Dortmund, a team that started the year with ten wins, as a springboard for results in the Premier League.
This might prove to be an uphill task as the Blues are without a win in their last 10 away games in all competitions. They currently sit in the 10th spot and are 11 points adrift of a top-four spot.
Leicester, too, has had an abysmal season so far. Leicester City enters this game with a four-game losing skid in all competitions, having lost to Man United, Arsenal, and Southampton in the league as well as Championship team Blackburn Rovers at home in the FA Cup.
The Foxes have suffered their most losses in a single season since 2018–19 with 15 Premier League defeats this season, second only to Southampton (16) in 2022–23. (16).
Leicester City has also gone two Premier League games without a single shot on target. The last time was James Maddison’s effort in the dying embers of the Foxes’ game against Manchester United.
Rumors also suggested that Brendan Rogers was going to end his stint with Leicester, but since then, the rumors have died down. As with Chelsea, while management’s holding on to a thin thread, Zinedine Zidane and Luis Enrique have been listed as possible gaffers should Potter be sacked in the coming days.
Chelsea and Leicester have locked horns 123 times, of which Chelsea has emerged victorious a whopping 60 times. Leicester has 28 wins against the Blues, while 35 games have been drawn.
Chelsea has only lost two of their last 10 away Premier League games against Leicester, but both defeats saw the final games in charge for managers José Mourinho (2-1 in December 2015) and Frank Lampard (2-0 in January 2021).
Brendan Rodgers will be hoping for a better result against Chelsea. His win percentage of 6% against the Blues is the lowest of any opponent he has faced in the Premier League, as he has only triumphed in one of their previous 16 encounters.
Another problem for Chelsea has been the number of players out injured. The list, over the season, has kept on growing and with a new player added to the bench every now and then, the Blues have failed to find their rhythm.
N’Golo Kante has been away from the action for as long as fans can remember. The Midfield maestro was slated to return in March, it’ll be a while before Chelsea fans catch a glimpse of the talisman. Furthermore, Edouard Mendy, Mason Mount, Thiago Silva, Cesar Azpilicueta, Armando Broja, and Reece James might not make the trip to Leicester owing to their respective injuries.
This implies that Kalidou Koulibaly and Wesley Fofana will defend the fort while Reece James and Ben Chilwell will provide the firepower. Mateo Kovacic will hold the midfield alongside Enzo Fernandes and Joao Felix will lead the attack with Raheem Sterling hopefully, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Leicester is on a sticky wicket as well as first-team players Youri Tielemans and Harvey Barnes won’t be included in the squad. Other players out on injury include Victor Kristiansen, Jonny Evans, James Justin, and Ryan Bertrand. This leaves Leicester at the hands of a pretty inexperienced side.
A team like Leicester would’ve taken advantage of Chelsea’s poor run on a good day, however, with how things have been for the Foxes, they won’t mind settling for a draw.
Predicted Starting XIs
Leicester City (4-2-3-1): Danny Ward; Harry Souttar, Wout Faes, Timothy Castagne, Ricardo Pereira; Nampalys Mendy, K Dewsbury-Hall; Tete, James Maddison, Harvey Barnes; Kelechi Iheanacho
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Kepa; Kalidou Koulibaly, Wesley Fofana, Ben Chilwell, Reece James; Mateo Kovacic, Enzo Fernandes; Joao Felix, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Raheem Sterling; Kai Havertz/Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Despite having gone through a rather bittersweet year, Chelsea looks like a more dangerous side than Leicester. More importantly, the Blues have gotten the best of the Foxes numerous times, making them favorites to win this tie.