Premier League Preview and Prediction: Chelsea vs Leicester City

Competition: Premier League – Chelsea FC vs. Leicester City FC

Venue: Stamford Bridge – Saturday, October 15 – 12:30 BST (07:30 ET) 

Match Odds: Chelsea 4/7 – Draw 16/5 – Leicester 9/2

Match Preview

Chelsea welcome champions Leicester to Stamford Bridge on Saturday in the opening game of the Premier League fixtures this weekend.

The Blues are clearly still in a rebuilding phase after last season. They have looked inconsistent and vulnerable in a number of games already.

Antonio Conte’s side won 2-0 away at Hull in their last Premier League outing, three points they desperately needed, having lost their previous two games.

Chelsea are already a way off the pace in the title race. They’re sitting 7th, five points off the top and three outside of the top four.

Embed from Getty Images

Leicester City are also in a run of unfavourable form. They have won just two of their seven games this season and are just four points above the relegation zone.

The Foxes have struggled against the so-called ‘big sides’ this season and have failed to pick up points in games they seemed to breeze through in their title-winning campaign.

Claudio Ranieri’s side come into this one having drawn 0-0 against Southampton. Although Leicester are performing well in the Champions League, they are struggling to relay that form domestically.

Leicester have to see this as a tie they can pick up a positive result in. Chelsea conceded twice in their last league game at Stamford Bridge and have looked shaky defensively.

Embed from Getty Images

Team News

Chelsea are expected to be handed a defensive boost with the return of their captain John Terry. Kurt Zouma and John Obi Mikel are both expected to be out, while Victor Moses is a doubt. Willian is unavailable for selection due the passing of his mother this week.

Leicester City’s squad is in good shape for this tie. They are only expecting to be without Matthew James, so Claudio Ranieri has the luxury of a strong bench regardless of what starting XI he selects.

Key Points

Chelsea’s last five: W/D/L/L/W

Leicester’s last five: W/L/W/L/D

Key Stat: These two sides have been inconsistent in their last five games, picking up the same amount of points (7).

Key Player: Diego Costa – The Premier League’s leading goal scorer this season has been in fine form. Costa has netted six times

Embed from Getty Images

Score Prediction

Chelsea 1-1 Leicester – Chelsea to come unstuck at home once again. They are looking far better than last season but defensive problems are there for all to see. Leicester need to begin picking up points to avoid being drawn into a rut of form. This would be a good result for Ranieri’s side, who posses the ability to damage Chelsea on the counter attack.

Advertisements

Premier League Preview and Prediction: Leicester City vs Arsenal

Competition: Premier League – Leicester City vs. Arsenal

Venue: King Power Stadium – Saturday, August 20 – 17:30 BST (12:30 ET)

Match Odds: Leicester 19/10 – Draw 13/5 – Arsenal 13/10

Match Preview

Leicester City welcome Arsenal to the King Power Stadium late on Saturday afternoon in a tie both sides will be desperate to win after disappointing opening weekend performances.

The champions come into this one off the back of their 2-1 defeat to Hull, a result that not many would have predicted.

Claudio Ranieri’s side looked stuck for ideas on how to break down their resilient opponents. They may well be better suited to this tie as it will be more open, meaning they will have more chances to express their counter-attacking play.

Leicester will be looking to exact some revenge on Arsenal as they were thumped 5-2 by the North London side at home last season.

Embed from Getty Images

Arsenal’s 4-3 loss in their opener against Liverpool has heaped more pressure on Arsene Wenger. It’s clear they have what it takes to break opponents down as they scored three, but the biggest concern for fans is their lacklustre defence.

Wenger’s injury list just seems to keep on expanding and another week has passed without any transfer activity at the club.

Arsenal come into this one under the spotlight. They cannot afford to lose their opening two games for the risk of already being six points behind their title rivals.

Worryingly for Arsenal they face a Leicester side who had impeccable home form in their title campaign. The Gunners drew their final three away games in the Premier League last season so it will be interesting to see if they can break that trend and take all three points here.

Embed from Getty Images

Team News

Leicester City have no injury concerns. Ranieri will more than likely opt for a similar starting lineup as he did against Hull. The Foxes have had a huge boost this week as Riyad Mahrez penned a contract extension, ending any uncertainty over his future.

Arsenal’s squad is still taking shape. As we know Laurent Koscielny, Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud returned to training late after Euro 2016. On top of Arsenal’s current injury list of Per Mertesacker, Gabriel Paulista, Jack Wilshere, Danny Welbeck and Carl Jenkinson, both Aaron Ramsey and Alex Iwobi were forced off in the game against Liverpool. The two latest setbacks increased their injury list to seven players and Arsenal could have up to ten players out here, including the trio who returned late from the Euros.

Key Points

Leicester City’s last five: L

Arsenal’s last five: L

Key Stat: Fortress – Leicester City are unbeaten in their last 15 home outings in the Premier League.

Key Player: Alexis Sanchez – There will be added pressure on Arsenal after their opening day defeat and they need their key players to work even harder considering how many regulars are absent. Sanchez has the ability to cut apart any defence and he will be expected to provide in this one.

Embed from Getty Images

Score Prediction

Leicester City 1-2 Arsenal – Arsenal to get off the mark and narrowly beat a Leicester side who would not have been expecting to lose their first two games of the 2016/17 Premier League season.

Why Chelsea should be doing everything possible to sign Kante

It goes without saying Leicester’s N’golo Kante was one of the standout performers in the Premier League last season and it is unsurprising to see him being linked with a number of Europe’s elite clubs. Chelsea are rumoured to have begun negotiations to secure the Frenchman and Lewis Addley explores why they should be doing everything possible to get a deal done…

In the summer transfer window 13 years ago, Chelsea secured the signing of one Claude Makelele from Real Madrid for a fee of around £17 million. His success in the Premier League led to his position being referred to as the ‘Makelele role’ and many have drawn comparisons to his playing style since.

In the 2015/16 season, Leicester City’s N’golo Kante emerged as arguably the best holding midfielder in Europe and it seemed only a matter of time before some of Europe’s elite came calling for his services.

The Frenchman has received heaps of praise from pundits and fans alike. Makelele himself has tipped him for a move to a ‘big club’ and with all due respect to Leicester, it looks like that is going to happen.

Embed from Getty Images

Kante has already turned down a £100,000-a-week improved contract from Leicester, arguably making his intentions to leave the club clear. Antonio Conte is hoping to bring in another holding midfielder to bolster his options at Chelsea. A hard-working player will be essential if his preferred 3-5-2 formation is to be successful in the Premier League.

Having already failed in attempts to sign AS Roma’s Radja Naaingolan, Kante appears to be at the top of Conte’s wish list.

So why should Chelsea be doing everything to get a deal done?

Competition:

Leicester City have already been offered £35m for Kante by Chinese club, Shanghai SIPG – £15 million higher than his buy-out clause. While money may not be the motivation for the player himself, nobody would blame Claudio Ranieri for cashing in at the highest amount possible. Although he will be hard pushed to find a replacement of equal quality to Kante.

The Frenchman is well in the shop window and clubs from across Europe have been monitoring his current situation at Leicester, the longer any potential deal takes to complete, the more competition Chelsea are likely to face to secure his services. Real Madrid are also watching the situation closely.

Consistency: 

The 25-year-old midfielder featured in 37 of 38 league games last season on his way to winning the title, barely putting a foot wrong and he even managed to pick up four assists and find the back of the net once.

Embed from Getty Images

Better by comparison: 

While it has to be clear this is not suggesting Nemanja Matic is a worse player, Kante bettered the Chelsea man in a number of key areas last term.

Matic was just one of Chelsea’s key performances from their title winning side of 2014/15 who really appeared to struggle to reach the same heights last season. As the current first-choice holding midfielder at the club, his position could well come under threat with the potential arrival of Kante.

Kante vs Matic

Statistics provided by Squawka

 

 

 

 

As we can see Kante bettered Matic’s output in all of the areas highlighted above. However, Matic did manage more successful passes than the Frenchman, more forward passes and netted one more goal.

Age:

Kante is only 25, giving him the potential for at least seven years at the top level, barring any injuries. He would be an infectious player for up and coming talent to learn from and is far from his peak.

Given how well he embedded himself in the French squad for the European Championships, it appears he will thrive off of playing alongside some of the highest regarded players in Europe.

Embed from Getty Images

If reports are to be believed Kante could become a Chelsea player in the very near future. He frustrated practically every opposition side in the Premier League last season and could play an integral role in Conte’s Chelsea revolution if he completes a move to West London.

Is Kante the holding midfielder Chelsea need? Should they be doing everything they can to sign him?

How does Ranieri’s Leicester side compare with his final Chelsea team?

The final round of fixtures from the 2015/16 Premier League season are to be played on Sunday. Chelsea welcome newly crowned champions Leicester City to Stamford Bridge in what will be an emotional return for Claudio Ranieri. Lewis Addley explores how Ranieri’s final Chelsea side of 2003/04 compares to his current Leicester team… 

Claudio Ranieri’s Leicester City proved to be the surprise package of the season and went on to become champions despite starting the campaign as 5000/1 outsiders. Leicester beat Chelsea earlier in the season and now visit the 2014/15 champions in what looks set to be an emotional day for Ranieri against his former club.

‘The Tinkerman’ departed Chelsea after the 2003/04 season, in which his team finished runners-up in the Premier League and were Champions League semifinalists.

So how do Ranieri’s Chelsea side from 12 years ago compare to his championship-winning Leicester team?

Screen Shot 2016-05-13 at 18.30.12

Ranieri’s 2003/04 Chelsea runners-up compared to his 2015/16 Leicester champions

As we can see in the table above, there are some statistical similarities between the sides albeit one game in difference as we head into the final round of fixtures.

Ranieri’s Leicester have scored exactly the same amount of goals as his Chelsea side did but have conceded five more.

Embed from Getty Images

He won one more as Chelsea manager in the 03/04 season, which he could equal on Sunday, but his Leicester team have converted four less losses into draws. As a result Leicester have picked up an extra point when compared to Chelsea’s tally of 79.

The league tables have some similarities but what about the squads?

It’s no secret that Chelsea have spent hundreds of millions in the Premier League era, a trend that all started back in 2003/04 when Roman Abramovich bought the club and at that time it was Ranieri’s duty or opportunity, whichever way you look at it, to invest money into the side.

So how much money did Ranieri spend at Chelsea in his final season compared to the summer transfer window ahead of the current Premier League campaign?

Screen Shot 2016-05-13 at 19.11.48

Ranieri’s signings compared: Chelsea 03/04 – Leicester 15/16

As we can see the money spent at Chelsea exceeds the money spent at Leicester by a staggering £86,050,000 – arguably unsurprising given the purchasing power difference between the clubs.

Leicester City’s current squad value will have no doubt increased since the start of the season given their performance levels, so how much would a typical starting XI be valued at?

Leicester XI market value

Typical Leicester starting XI market value according to transfermarkt.co.uk

The complete value of this starting XI costs less than Ranieri’s top four most expensive Chelsea signings from the 03/04 season.

There are a few similarities between Ranieri’s teams as he regularly deployed his favoured 4-4-2 formation with both clubs.

Screen Shot 2016-05-13 at 19.50.37

Typical Chelsea XI 2003/04 created using lineupbuilder.com

The importance of a consistent ‘keeper and backline supported by a holding midfielder is apparent from both of the two sides in question.

The one player who has drawn the most comparison by fans and pundits alike this season is N’Golo Kante, who’s playing style is highly similar to Claude Makelele, with both having an integral role to play in their respective sides. They allowed for their central midfield partner to be free to roam and influence the game, something both Frank Lampard and Danny Drinkwater evidently did well.

Embed from Getty Images

Both Chelsea’s and Leicester’s backlines were rarely breached throughout their respective seasons, mainly down to solidarity and consistency. Both of Ranieri’s teams had two centre-backs with a presence in the air and on the ground, as well as pacy fullbacks who assisted their wingers.

Then we can look into the final third of the field, as skilful wingers had the ability to cut open opposition defences, while the strikers were renowned for confidence in their ability to finish.

Riyad Mahrez’s partnership with Jamie Vardy differs slightly from Ranieri’s Chelsea team, who did use the flanks but relied on goals from Lampard in the middle of the park.

Embed from Getty Images

Ranieri’s Chelsea side were the nearly men. He failed to win a trophy with the club despite coming close on a few occasions, but fans will argue he played a huge role in setting them on the path to glory. In his first season as Leicester manager he has delivered the goods and will be looking forward to a welcomed return to ‘The Bridge’ this weekend.

How similar are Ranieri’s Chelsea side from 03/04 to this season’s champions? Has ‘The Tinkerman’ become a better manager since his first spell in England? 

Premier League Preview and Prediction: Manchester United vs Leicester City

Competition: Premier League – Manchester United vs. Leicester City

Venue: Old Trafford – Sunday, May 1st – 14:05 GMT (09:05 ET)

Match Odds: Man United 1/1 – Draw 23/10 – Leicester 29/10

Match Preview

Manchester United welcome Leicester City to Old Trafford in what could be the day Claudio Ranieri’s side make history and win the Premier League.

United’s last Premier League game was their 2-0 win over Crystal Palace. There is still a chance for them to finish in the top four, they sit five points behind but they do have a game in hand. The Red Devils are reliant on other results going their way.

Louis Van Gaal’s side will be full of confidence having dramatically reached the FA Cup Final last weekend, giving them a great chance of silverware this season.

Manchester United have won their last six home matches against Leicester so the away side will have to break that trend if they are to be crowned champions this weekend.

Embed from Getty Images

Leicester City extended their unbeaten run to seven games last weekend with their 4-0 demolition over Swansea.

Ranieri’s side are within touching distance of the Premier League title, but only all three points will secure the silverware this weekend.

Leicester have won six of their last seven league games and kept six clean sheets along the way. We can expect them to be as difficult as ever to break down here.

A win here would cap off what has been an amazing season for Leicester, they have been in good form away, winning three on the bounce.

Embed from Getty Images

Team News

Manchester United could be without up to five through injury as Bastian Schweinsteiger, Adnan Januzaj, Luke Shaw and Will Keane are all ruled out, while Phil Jones is a doubt.

Leicester City are still expected to be without Matthew James through injury, while Jamie Vardy is serving the additional game of his suspension.

Key Points

Manchester United’s last five Premier League games: W/W/L/W/W

Leicester City’s last five Premier League games: W/W/W/D/W

Key Stat: Manchester United have won their last six home matches in the Premier League.

Key Player: Kasper Schmeichel – The Danish ‘keeper could follow in his fathers footsteps and win the Premier League title at Old Trafford. We can expect both ‘keepers to be busy but Schmeichel’s performances have been an integral part of Leicester’s chase for the title. He has kept seven clean sheets in his last ten league games.

Embed from Getty Images

Score Prediction

Manchester United 0-0 Leicester City – The champagne will have to stay on ice for at least another week for Leicester City. This will be a very tight tie with neither side looking weak at the back. Manchester United will have to do something not many sides have successfully achieved over the course of the season and break Leicester down. With both goalkeepers in fantastic form they will be the stars of the show here.

Premier League Preview and Prediction: Crystal Palace vs Leicester City

Competition: Premier League – Crystal Palace vs. Leicester City

Venue: Selhurst Park – Saturday, March 19 – 15:00 GMT (11:00 ET)

Match Odds: Crystal Palace 19/10 – Draw 9/4 – Leicester 7/5

Match Preview

Crystal Palace welcome high flying Leicester City to Selhurst Park on Saturday in a game which could have huge implications at both ends of the table.

Palace are sitting dangerously close to the drop zone and are in a rut of form in the Premier League. They must start to pick up points to distance themselves from the relegation battle, and fast.

They come into the game off the back of reaching the FA Cup semifinals last weekend but previously lost at home to Liverpool in the league.

This is going to be a very tough test for Palace, who will have title-chasing London rivals Tottenham willing them on this weekend.

The Eagles are the only side in the top four tiers of English football yet to win a league game in 2016. That’s something Alan Parker will want to change very quickly.

Embed from Getty Images

Leicester City remain top of the Premier League. They come into this tie off the back of their 1-0 win over Newcastle last time out.

These are the sort of games which can prove to be the biggest test while chasing down the league title, as Palace have just as much to play for as the visitors.

Claudio Ranieri will be trying to keep his players as calm and composed as possible heading into this tie but the pressure is mounting on them massively now and, as the cliche goes, every game is a cup final from here on in.

Embed from Getty Images

Team News

Crystal Palace have five injury concerns. Kwesi Appiah, Marouane Chamakh, James McArthur and Connor Wickham are all expected to still be out, while Mile Jedinak is a doubt.

Leicester City have just the two injury concerns heading into the tie. Matthew James is out, while Andy King is a doubt.

Key Points

Crystal Palace’s last five: D/L/L/D/L

Leicester City’s last five: L/W/D/W/W

Key Stat: Crystal Palace are yet to win in the Premier League in 2016.

Key Player: Riyad Marhez – Leicester’s key man has netted an impressive 15 goals in his 29 appearances this season and he will be key to unlocking the Palace defence here.

Embed from Getty Images

Score Prediction

Crystal Palace 0-2 Leicester City – Leicester to prove too strong for a struggling Palace side in this tie and continue their march towards the title in this incredibly unpredictable Premier League season.

Premier League Preview and Prediction: Manchester City vs Leicester City

Competition: Premier League – Manchester City vs. Leicester City

Venue: Etihad Stadium – Saturday, February 6 – 12:45 GMT (07:45 ET) 

Match Odds: Man City 4/7 – Draw 16/5 – Leicester City 9/2

Match Preview

Manchester City welcome Premier League leaders Leicester City to the Etihad Stadium in the first game of the weekend.

Manuel Pellegrini’s side have been in a great run of form and are unbeaten in their last seven in the league. This is a huge tie which they desperately need to take all three points from to ensure they are in the strongest position possible to regain the title.

Manchester City have not lost in their last nine outings against Leicester in all competitions and haven’t conceded a goal in the last three meetings between the sides.

The Manchester giants come into this one off the back of their hard earned 1-0 away win over Sunderland, a great example of their resilience and proof they are more than capable of grinding out results.

Embed from Getty Images

Leicester City are continuing to fly high and are three points clear of Manchester City at the top of the league coming into this one.

They won convincingly last time out against Liverpool with Jamie Vardy scoring that unforgettable screamer and have scored five goals in their last two games.

Claudio Ranieri’s side are unbeaten in 14 of their last 15 away Premier League games and are more than capable of making this a really tough tie for Manchester City.

If Leicester can avoid defeat here they will give themselves a great chance of winning the league but some are still questioning their chances. Leicester on paper have a favourable run in to the end of the season after their next two games and we will really get a feel for how things will end up over the coming weeks.

Embed from Getty Images

Team News

Manchester City’s injury list is a concern for Pellegrini but shows the importance of squad depth. Six first team players look set to miss out as Samir Nasri, Wilfried Bony, Kevin DeBruyne, Fabian Delph, Jesus Navas and captain Vincent Kompany are all sidelined.

Leicester City have just the three players who look unlikely to feature here, Daniel Amartey is a doubt while Matthew James and Jeffrey Schlupp are both out.

Key Points

Manchester City’s last five: W/D/W/D/W

Leicester City’s last five: D/W/D/W/W

Key Stat: Solid – Leicester have kept five clean sheets in their last six Premier League games.

Key Player: Sergio Aguero – The Argentine goal-machine has bagged six in his last five Premier League outings and now has 13 for the season. If he continues to find the net at this ratio he could well be the difference for City bringing the title back to the Etihad.

Embed from Getty Images

Score Prediction

Manchester City 2-1 Leicester City – Pellegrini’s side to edge this one in a tie which could have a serious impact in the race for the title. It should be a thriller and one not to miss.

Premier League Preview and Prediction: Leicester City vs Manchester United

Competition: Premier League – Leicester City vs Manchester United 

Venue: King Power Stadium – Saturday, November 28 – 17:30 GMT (12:30 ET) 

Match Odds: Leicester City 11/5 – Draw 23/10 – Manchester United 11/8

Match Preview

Leicester City welcome Manchester United to the King Power Stadium in a top of the table clash in the late kick off on Saturday afternoon as the top two in the Premier League go head-to-head.

The home side are in a great run of form and lead the division by a point heading into this one. Claudio Ranieri’s men will be full of confidence but will also be well aware of the challenge they face in this tie.

Leicester come into the game off the back of their impressive 3-0 away win over Newcastle last weekend where Jamie Vardy equalled Ruud van Nistelrooy’s record of scoring in ten consecutive Premier League games. He will now look to break it against Van Nistelrooy’s former club.

Leicester City’s Premier League record: P13 – W8 – D4 – L1

This has the makings of a game not to miss, especially for those that remember the action-packed fixture between the sides from last season which ended 5-3 to Leicester.

Embed from Getty Images

Manchester United have quietly gone about their business this season. They have come under some criticism but can top the Premier League after the weekend if they win here, regardless of other results.

Louis Van Gaal’s side come into the game off the back of their 2-1 win away at Watford, where they showed their resilience to take all three points late on.

Manchester United’s Premier League record: P13 – W8 – D3 – L2

United know how difficult of a task this is going to be and will be all too aware of how dangerous Leicester can be on the counter attack, so they cannot afford any lapses in concentration.

This game is winnable for United, but it is going to take a fine performance to stop the high-flying Leicester, and we can’t wait to see how it unfolds.

Embed from Getty Images

Team News

Leicester have just the one injury concern, with Matthew James out. Ranieri will be expecting his side to continue with their committed performances and will not expect the magnitude of the tie to get to them.

Manchester United’s injury concerns are ongoing. Antonio Valencia, Ander Herrera, Jesse Lingard, Phil Jones and Michael Carrick are all expected to miss out. Luke Shaw will continue to be unavailable as he recovers from that horrific leg break, but he is making steady progress.

Key Points

Leicester City’s last five: D/W/W/W/W

Manchester United’s last five: W/D/D/W/W

Key Stat: Manchester United have won ten out of the last 11 meetings between the sides in all competitions.

Key Player: Jamie Vardy – All eyes will be on Vardy once more. The Englishman will be gunning to break Ruud van Nistelrooy’s record and what a game it could be to do it in. You can’t ignore him for the key man in this one.

Embed from Getty Images

Score Prediction

Leicester City 1-1 Manchester United – The two are so hard to split before kick off. Leicester are still enjoying their sensational start to the season and United are proving tough to breakdown. Score draw most likely.