Chelsea Hope to Compound Leicester’s Woes

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Chelsea head into their Premier League encounter with Leicester City this afternoon looking to record their third successive win in the top flight while Leicester make the trip to Stamford Bridge having dropped down to 12th position in the standings

Chelsea are still some way short of being the finished article under Maurizio Sarri, but the Blues continue to find a way to churn out results in order to remain in the top four of the table.

The defeats at Tottenham Hotspur and Wolves were a wakeup call for a side who had previously put together an unbeaten run lasting over three months but hard-fought wins over Manchester City and Brighton and Hove Albion have improved the mood at Stamford Bridge.

Their efforts in the final third remain a concern with Chelsea having gone six games without netting more than twice in a top-flight fixture and their lack of a clinical touch was once again on the show during the narrow 1-0 win over Bournemouth in the EFL Cup quarter-finals.

Chelsea created 25 shots and registered as many as 12 on target but it took a heavily-deflected effort from Eden Hazard to finally get the better of Cherries stopper Attur Boruc.

Hazard has now scored 10 goals in all competitions this season but it is nine assists in the Premier League which have perhaps made him the standout player in English football during the first half of the campaign.

However, Chelsea still have issues in the centre-forward role with Olivier Giroud only netting one domestic goal since the beginning of August while the backline still looks shaky at times despite four clean sheets coming from their last seven outings.

Results are all that will matter over a hectic schedule over Christmas and New Year but Sarri will remain unsatisfied until his players have fully adapted to his tactics.

Whether that materialises this season remains to be seen but getting 12 points on the board from four games over the next two weeks is the short-term objective and achieving that target may be enough to close the gap on the top two.

Leicester put together a remarkable run of form in the aftermath of the helicopter crash at the King Power Stadium on October 27 but Claude Puel faces a fight to get his side back on track after a poor couple of weeks.

The Foxes have registered just one point from their last three outings in the Premier League and it has been enough for the East Midlands outfit to drop down into the bottom half of the table.

There was more disappointment on Tuesday evening as Leicester bowed out to Manchester City in the EFL Cup quarter-finals and Puel must now find a way to quickly get back to winning ways.

The Frenchman has put together a squad which should be capable of challenging for seventh spot and a place in the Europa League and although there is only a small gap to that target that could change with further setbacks at Chelsea and against Man City.

Puel will acknowledge that Leicester are unlikely to gain much in terms of points from that double-header but there at least needs to be improvements in all areas of the pitch ahead of what could be regarded as a huge match at home to Cardiff City on December 29.

The biggest concern for Puel will be the club’s return in front of goal and it has now been 11 games since Leicester last scored more than two goals in a Premier League fixture.

Jamie Vardy has struggled with injury at times but the long-term top goalscorer has not received much help from his teammates with only James Maddison netting more than twice in the top flight.

The backline has performed solidly enough and currently holds the sixth-best defensive record in the top flight but unless Leicester can start scoring goals they will not make any further progress.

Leicester have played teams from the London area in their last three league outings and haven’t fared too well with just a draw against bottom club Fulham and losses to Tottenham Hotspur and Crystal Palace for their efforts.

The defeat against the Eagles was particularly concerning because the hosts were without star forward Wilfried Zaha and that usually spells trouble for Palace.

Their recent record against the Blues is not good although Leicester did battle to a scoreless draw at Stamford Bridge in January despite finishing the match with 10 players.

Their last meeting came in March when Chelsea needed extra time to beat the Foxes in an FA Cup quarter-final.

Leicester have the sixth-best defensive record in the Premier League conceding just 21 goals but their attack has only yielded the same amount of goals but against a more talented and in-form Chelsea team, a defeat looms today.

Second-placed City are at home to Crystal Palace in 15th on today when fourth-placed Chelsea entertain 2016 champions Leicester City and fifth-placed Arsenal host struggling Burnley after Sunday’s shock 3-2 defeat at Southampton.

Third-placed Tottenham Hotspur whose Argentine manager Mauricio Pochettino has been tipped as a favourite to take over at United on a full-time basis next summer will hope to keep within touching distance of Liverpool and City as they travel to Everton.

Manchester United face off with Cardiff City in the club’s first Premier League match since the firing of Jose Mourinho.

Premiership

Today

Arsenal  v  Burnley  12:30

Bournemouth  v  Brighton  15:00

Chelsea  v  Leicester  15:00

Huddersfield  v  Southampton 15:00

Man City  v  C’ Palace  15:00

Newcastle  v  Fulham  15:00

West Ham  v  Watford  15:00

Cardiff  v  Man Utd  17:30

Sunday

Everton v  Tottenham  16:00

Premiership Table

Team P GD Pts

Liverpool 18 32 48

Man City 17 38 44

Tottenham 17 15 39

Chelsea 17 21 37

Arsenal 17 14 34

Man Utd 17 0 26

Wolves 17 0 25

Everton 17 2 24

West Ham 17 0 24

Watford 17 -2 24

Bournemouth 17 -3 23

Leicester 17 0 22

Brighton 17 -4 21

Newcastle 17 -8 16

Crystal Palace 17 -9 15

Cardiff 17 -16 14

Southampton 17 -16 12

Burnley 17 -18 12

Huddersfield 17 -18 10

Fulham

17 -26 9

Fulham 16 -24 9