Chelsea vs. Leicester City
Venue: Stamford Bridge
Chelsea play host to Leicester City this afternoon, with both teams looking to register their first wins of the new Premier League season.
Frank Lampard’s side fell 4-0 away to Manchester United last weekend, while the Foxes played out a goalless draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers at the King Power Stadium.
It has proved a difficult start to life in top-flight management for new Chelsea boss Lampard, who has seen his charges lose their first two competitive games under his leadership in the last week.
The Blues were impressive for the first 30 minutes at Old Trafford but their inexperience told as the game wore on, and they fell victim to some moments of magic from Marcus Rashford, Paul Pogba and Daniel James.
In that game Lampard elected to give starts to Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount, but the former Derby County boss opted for a more experienced side in the midweek European Super Cup tie with Liverpool.
Again, the West London outfit started the game brightly and actually took the lead on 36 minutes through Olivier Giroud, but they were eventually pegged back by Jurgen Klopp’s team in normal time before losing on penalties. Although they came up short, Lampard will have been able to take a number of positives from that game in Istanbul.
Chelsea lined up with a 4-3-3 against Liverpool, with N’Golo Kante, Christian Pulisic and Giroud coming into the side for Mount, Abraham and Ross Barkley.
Kante was at his controlling best at the heart of their midfield and having him fit and back playing in a more defensive role will almost feel like a new signing, while Pulisic had more than a touch of Eden Hazard about him, showing real verve and energy on the ball, as well as flashes of creativity. With the Blues still under their transfer ban, integrating the American international into the first team as soon as possible will be essential.
It is clear that, although Lampard wants to promote the club’s array of talented youngsters, he is still yet to settle on his best XI for the season ahead.
The 41-year-old will be hoping that this game and meetings with recently-promoted Norwich City and Sheffield United before the international break will allow him to find that right mix of youth and experience and build some momentum as the season begins to intensify.
Although many tipped Leicester to do well this season before a ball was even kicked, their performance last weekend against Wolves provided more questions than answers.
Brendan Rodgers’ side enjoyed more than 70 per cent possession during the game but struggled to create clear-cut chances, recording just one shot on target across the 90 minutes and only earning a point because of a VAR decision that went against Leander Dendoncker.
A possible factor in the Foxes’ somewhat limp opening performance was their change in formation, opting for a 4-3-3 instead of the 4-1-4-1 that the Northern Irishman experimented with during pre-season.
Chelsea possible XI: Kepa, Azpilicueta, Zouma, Christensen, Emerson, Kovacic, Jorginho, Kante, Pedro, Giroud, Pulisic.
Leicester City possible XI: Schmeichel, Pereira, Evans, Soyuncu, Chilwell, Tielemans, Ndidi, Maddison, Barnes, Vardy, Albrighton.