Chelsea have returned to form in recent weeks and built on their impressive victory over Manchester City. They will be looking to have a strong Christmas period and maintain pace with the leading pack. They won’t be expecting to challenge, but they should be staying as close as possible. Their opposition on Saturday, Leicester City, are one of the better teams outside of the top six and have the potential to cause an upset. The home side will need to be alert to the dangers the match poses.
Maurizio Sarri has fared well during his first season in the Premier League considering the lack of time that he was afforded during the summer. Chelsea are currently 4th and only eight points off of top spot. The target is there for them to chase, but the expectations aren’t there. Supporters will be hoping that the steady progress continues and there are one or two more wins like the one over Manchester City. That will give them a platform to build from. As this is Sarri’s first season in England, the festive period offers a unique challenge and he must rotate his squad to avoid fatigue. This is something he struggled with at Napoli.
Leicester City have had a difficult year off the field after the tragic helicopter crash earlier this campaign. Matters on the field have become less important as a result, but the events have united the squad and they continue to perform well. They are in 12th, but there will be an ambition to establish themselves in the top ten during the second half of the season. This weekend offers a free hit to Claude Puel and if they perform, there is a real chance for them to take something from the game. That would be a huge boost heading into the Christmas schedule.
- Willian became the third Brazilian to reach 50 goals and assists in the Premier League after Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho during the last game.
- Leicester City haven’t won in any of their last ten away matches in London.
The Belgian international has started to find his stride during recent weeks after a disappointing time struggling with various knocks. He was awarded the man of the match award last weekend against Brighton and followed that up with a winner in the Carabao Cup tie against Bournemouth. It was far from his greatest two matches, but he is on an upward curve and that should worry Leicester. On his day, there is no better player in the Premier League, as he offers dynamism and a quality final ball. At times, he has been criticised for his decision making, but he has already improved under Sarri. The Italian encourages Hazard to express himself on the field and it is clear that the environment suits the 27-year-old. He has eight goals and nine assists in the Premier League this season. It is likely that he becomes the first player to reach ten of each this campaign, underling how well rounded he is.
He was the player brought in to replace N’Golo Kante and he has performed well in the Leicester midfield. It was always difficult to replicate the achievements of the Frenchman, but Ndidi is an excellent player and he will relish the opportunity to go up against the former Foxes’ hero on Saturday. The midfield area will be where the match is won and Leicester need to compete well to have any chance of taking a positive result from Stamford Bridge. The 22-year-old currently averages 3.3 tackles and 2.1 interceptions each game, which emphasises the ball-winning quality that he does have. Moreover, he is good on the ball and very effective in the transition phase. There will be bigger clubs looking at him and Saturday is a good opportunity for him to show what he can do against quality opposition.
- Alvaro Morata is a doubt with a knee injury, while Victor Moses will be unavailable. Ruben Loftus-Cheek will be pushing for a starting place after recent impressive performances.
- Jamie Vardy could be set for a return to action for the visitors. Wilfred Ndidi is a doubt but expected to pull through. Daniel Amartey will miss out, but Ben Chillwell could return.
It is difficult to see Chelsea failing to take all three points on Saturday, due to Leicester’s recent struggles in the capital. The home side are building up momentum and the Foxes don’t have the confidence to be the ones to end that run. It should be an open affair, with chances at both ends, but it is the hosts that have the quality to take advantage of the space on offer. Eden Hazard is slowly reaching his best and he could star on Saturday.