Preview: Chelsea v Leicester

Chelsea will be targeting a second straight Premier League victory when defending Premier League champions Leicester city make the trip to Stamford Bridge on Saturday afternoon.

English Premier League
15 October 2016
Matchday 8
Kick-off: 19H30 HKT
Venue: Stamford Bridge

Referee: A Marriner
Assistants: S Beck, A Garratt
Fourth official: S. Attwell

Head-to-head summary:

Chelsea        79        38     23     18
Leicester      79        18     23     38

Previous encounter:

Leicester City 2-4 Chelsea – 20/09/16 (League Cup)
Leicester City goalscorers:  Okazaki (17′, 34′)
Chelsea goalscorers: Cahill (45′), Azpilicueta (49′), Fabregas (92′, 94′)

Players to watch:

Diego Costa is thriving under new Chelsea manager Antonio Conte and has already fired in six goals in seven league games for the Blues this season. He was also on target for Spain against Albania this week and is in the kind of form and mood where he expects to net in every game.

All eyes will also fall on N’Golo Kante as he faces his former colleagues for the first time since his summer transfer, and the midfielder could play an important role in ensuring Leicester’s supply line is stifled.

Islam Slimani has made a cracking start to his career at Leicester, having already netted three goals, including the winner in a Champions League victory over Sporting. The 28-year-old’s pace and movement could cause an aging Chelsea defence headaches, also potentially creating space for Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez.

Team form and manager quotes:

The Blues are handily placed in seventh spot, five points behind pace-setters Manchester City. But their league form of late has been sketchy, the west Londoners drew with Swansea and lost to both Liverpool and Arsenal before recovering somewhat with a win away at Hull.

Conte paid his respects to Claudio Ranieri and his side, but says that Chelsea must focus on their own ambitions.

“Leicester won the title last season and are playing good in the Champions League and we must respect the past,” said Conte.

“We are working very hard to change the situation of the past and the whole of the last season and we are trying to build something important for the present and the future. You can only do that through work and time. It is important to be focused.”

Ranieri, who returns to his former club on Saturday, is banking on Vardy, Slimani and Mahrez to make things happen for the Foxes, the champions having made a slow start to the league season with eight points claimed in their opening seven matches which sees them down in 12th spot.

“In the training sessions, I often put the three together to manage better and better in every situation. Then I believe in these three guys.

“There are special sessions, and also when we play matches they stay always together so they can link every time better, to get a better understanding. There is a very good link between the three and I think this is a strength of our future,” said the Italian.

Team news:

Chelsea skipper John Terry is line for a recall to the starting XI after recovering from an ankle injury.

Victor Moses is a doubtful starter, while Willian is unavailable after receiving compassionate leave following the passing away of his mother.

Nampalys Mendy remains sidelined with an ankle injury for the visiting side, who are hopeful that fellow midfielder Danny Drinkwater can recover in time from a minor groin injury.