Chelsea and Leicester City both have endured tough starts to the new season and they square off in what seems to be a tough Saturday afternoon for both teams at Stamford Bridge.
Thomas Tuchel’s side have had a mixed start to the season. Winning at Goodison Park was a big outcome considering the Blues do not have a good record there (P:18, W:6, L:10, D:2). They were somewhat unfortunate to draw against Spurs having dominated the entire game but the performance at Elland Road last weekend means there are some tough decisions that must be taken by head coach Thomas Tuchel. Jesse Marsch tactically outplayed Thomas Tuchel and also there were also some major errors committed by Chelsea players which saw Leeds United take home the three points comfortably.
A big talking point before the game is the potential transfer of Wesley Fofona. The Blues’ third offer of a staggering £70m was rejected by the Foxes two days later and transfer guru Fabrizio Romano has claimed that the new offer will be around £75m with add-ons still being discussed by the club.
Where and When?
Venue: Stamford Bridge.
Date: Saturday, 27th August 2022.
Time: 15:00 BST.
Referee: Paul Tierney.
Assistant Referees: Stuart Burt, Dan Cook
Fourth Official: David Coote.
VAR: Andre Marriner.
Assistant VAR: Ian Hussin.
Midfielder N’Golo Kante is a definite absentee with a hamstring injury but Mateo Kovacic’s chances of making the bench are very tough even after he was seen training with the first team. Those are the only two possible players out of the game.
Kalidou Koulibaly’s brain fade moment saw him get a red card three games into his Chelsea career and he is out of this fixture. It is interesting to see how Tuchel changes his side’s composition to accommodate his loss.
Rodgers has once again opted to keep Wesley Fofona away for this game due to a potential transfer to their opponent. But a similar thing cannot be said about Youri Tielemans who started the first two games against Arsenal and Brentford and came on in the game against Southampton.
James Maddison is a potential doubt as Brendan Rodgers said he “felt a twinge” in training on Wednesday. Harvey Barnes will most likely keep his place in the starting lineup after recovering a knee injury to play against the Saints.
Kalidou Koulibaly missing out in this game will very likely mean that Cucurella gets pushed to play in a three-man defence alongside Silva and Cesar Azpilicueta who celebrates his ten years at Chelsea this week meaning Ben Chilwell gets a call-up to play in his preferred left wingback position. Reece James will play the right-wingback as Ruben Loftus Cheek will probably replace Conor Gallagher who could not make a mark in a 3-0 defeat at Leeds. This will make Chelsea’s midfield a bit more physical and Loftus Cheek will play the Kante role of mopping up the middle of the pitch and pushing the ball into attacking positions.
But the biggest worry for Thomas Tuchel will be to make a system where his attackers can start thriving and his players also need to take a bit more of the responsibility here. Due to the formation of the side there is an absence of recognized creative midfielders so the creative burden falls heavily on the full-backs and the front three players.
Kai Havertz is a real hard worker off the ball but his primary role is to put the ball in the back of the net and so far in his Chelsea career he has not done so. Mason Mount needs to start improving his finishing and the kind of positions he takes his attempts from too also need a bit of readjusting. Raheem Sterling will have to take the onus and lead the lineup and his side to three points this season.
Brendan Rodgers is in big trouble this year. After two consecutive years where his teams finished fifth and with a FA Cup and a Community Shield to show for, last year things have gone in the opposite direction. Injuries, loss in form and poor mistakes on and off the field has meant his team has regressed in the last twelve months. Even if the Foxes manage to sell Youri and Wesley for big profits, we are left with just five days till the window slams shut and adequate replacements will be hard to come and even if they manage to come, they will have to pay a lot of premiums to get these players.
Till they get these deals sorted out the onus of this season lies on the shoulders of James Maddison, Ndidi, Evans and Jamie Vardy. They are the leaders and most experienced players in this side. Also, James Justin coming back will be like a new signing for this team while Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall is a really good player the club found through their academy last season.
What’s left to say about Reece James that hasn’t been said already. The Chelsea academy product is already touted as the next Chelsea captain and he and Mason will be Terry and Lampard of this club it seems very well. Even when his entire team looked shaky on Saturday, Reece was still the team’s best player. He took a shot, created a chance and completed 8 defensive actions with a pass accuracy of 87% for 47 passes made. That’s the mark of a player who is now going to perform regardless of how his team does. And this form will be crucial if his team wants to achieve the maximum possible points in this game.
There are strong reports that suggest Reece will commit to the club for six seasons plus one year as an option as Todd Boehly looks to shape the side around him and Mason who is offered a similar deal.
He is up against his English compatriot James Justin who is an excellent defensive player and will be tasked to keep James quiet this afternoon. If he can expose his aerial weakness by winning duels, crossing the ball and putting on excellent set pieces, it could be a long day at the office for Justin.
It’s a very left-field shout but we have decided to go for Danny Ward as the player fans should look out for. Danny Ward has had a rough start none to say the least. Replacing a legend who has made nearly 480 appearances for the club is never going to be an easy task but Ward who is now put into the limelight has failed to perform.
Over 3 matches, Leicester City’s new one has faced 36 shots, 13 of which were on target (17 off target and 6 blocked) and from those 13 shots he has managed to ship in 8 goals which is just a bad look for a goalkeeper. His post-shot xG suggests that he is letting an extra goal per goal than an average keeper would.
To add insult to injury, backup Daniel Iversen put on an amazing display in the normal time and in the extra time saving three penalties to drag Leicester City into the next round of the Carabao Cup.
It remains to be seen how much longer can Brendan have the patience with Ward before deciding to pick Iversen.
Chelsea predicted XI vs Leicester City: Mendy; Azpilicueta, Silva, Cucurella; James, Jorginho, Loftus-Cheek, Chilwell; Mount, Sterling; Havertz.
Leicester City predicted XI vs Chelsea: Ward; Castagne, Amartey, Evans, Justin; Ndidi, Dewsbury-Hall; Perez, Maddison, Barnes; Vardy.