Chelsea have shown positive signs under Frank Lampard, with youth players being given a chance and an attacking brand of football being implemented. However, they have shown some vulnerabilities defensively and the concerns over his lack of experience remain. Last weekend, they collapsed against Manchester United, with the space being offered to the home side being a huge problem picked up by Jose Mourinho in the post-match analysis. They struggled with pace on the counter-attack, which is why this weekend’s match against Leicester City poses another difficult test for the Blues.
It was a risky appointment to bring Frank Lampard to Stamford Bridge after only one year in management, but many felt it was a risk worth taking with the transfer ban. Lampard will look to bring in the younger players and allow them to adapt to Premier League football under his guidance. With that objective, there needs to be leniency regarding results, as there will be a few disappointing ones such as the defeat to Manchester United. However, in midweek, Chelsea went toe-to-toe with Liverpool and could have ran out winners on another night. They will take the positives out of that into the weekend.
Leicester City are the team many are tipping to break into the top-six. Brendan Rodgers is a manager with high ambitions and he will see this season as a real opportunity for the Foxes. Their summer transfer business was ambitious with the permanent signing of Youri Tielemans being the headline addition. The likes of Ayoze Perez and Dennis Praet offering the manager with strength in depth and different options. The sale of Harry Maguire has raised concerns, but the performance of Caglar Soyncu against Wolves will have eased those.
Ngolo Kante completed nine dribbles and four ball recoveries during the Super Cup. He will be the key man for Chelsea over the coming months.
Leicester City didn’t manage a shot on target until the 83rd minute against Wolves. They will hope to offer more of a threat this weekend.
The USA international is the man tasked with replacing Eden Hazard. It is a thankless mission for the new signing, but the attacker is full of confidence and at the age of 20, he can develop alongside the homegrown talent at Stamford Bridge. Although Chelsea will know that he isn’t the finished article yet, he showed on Wednesday night that he can already contribute and pose danger to the opposition. He made the assist for Olivier Giroud’s opening goal, with an excellent display of vision. Meanwhile, he showed his finishing ability in the first half, as he cut inside and scored a lovely goal. It was later disallowed for offside, but it was an indication of the quality that he does possess. Lampard will have looked at his display with encouragement, with the former Dortmund player likely doing enough to earn a starting berth this weekend. The Blues will look to attack Leicester at home and the new signing could be the key player in attack.
Later in the season, it could be that everybody looks back on Tielemans being the signing of the summer. He is a perfect fit for this Leicester team, as he has huge potential, but enough experience to make an immediate impact. The Foxes are looking to build a young, exciting team and the midfielder could be the one with the most potential. After coming in on loan last season, he made a large contribution to the team, with three goals and four assists. His goal involvement was a goal or assist every 156 minutes, a very good return for a central midfielder. Many expected bigger clubs to take an interest in him over the summer, with Monaco keen to sell, but it was Leicester that brought him to England on a permanent basis. Paul Pogba showed the vulnerabilities of the Chelsea defence with his passing range. Tielemans could have a similar impact at Stamford Bridge, with Jamie Vardy’s pace being the main weapon to utilise.
Ngolo Kante and Christian Pulisic are expected to make their first Premier League starts of the season following impressive showings in the Super Cup. Olivier Giroud is another who will hope his performance will earn him a start, with Tammy Abraham struggling to make an impact. Willian is in line to feature for the first time under Frank Lampard.
There aren’t any major injury concerns for Leicester. Ayoze Perez will be hoping to keep his place, with Harvey Barnes pushing for a start. Jamie Vardy and Youri Tielemans will be the two danger men, with both expected to start.
This is going to be one of the most fascinating matches to watch this weekend. Frank Lampard needs his team to deliver a first win to ease concerns about his own lack of experience, while Leicester will see it as an opportunity to show their credentials. If they are to gatecrash the top six, they need to compete in matches such as these. They have the pace and directness to cause problems for the home side. A score draw would be my prediction. It is a very difficult fixture to call, especially given Chelsea played 120 minutes in the week.
Chelsea 2-2 Leicester City