Chelsea

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard before the match on August 11, 2019© Reuters

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.

Leicester City

Jamie Vardy in action for Leicester City on July 23, 2019© Reuters

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% 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.

Against Wolves, James Maddison and summer signing Ayoze Perez, who are both usually deployed through the centre, were played as wingers and as a result Leicester often lacked width and therefore the ability to really stretch their opponents and create openings for Jamie Vardy.

Although they did improve when Marc Albrighton and Harvey Barnes came off the bench, the ease with which Wolves were able to sit back and effectively neutralise their opponents will be a worry for Rodgers moving forward.

Interestingly, 23-year-old winger Demarai Gray, whose pace and directness has so often yielded positive results for the Foxes, was left out of last week’s matchday 18 entirely, while recent Belgian addition Dennis Praet didn’t make it off the bench.

One positive from that game with Wolves was the performance of Turkish centre-back Caglar Soyuncu, who marshaled the defence superbly and seems set to adequately fill the boots of record sale Harry Maguire.

A former youth coach at Chelsea, Sunday’s fixture will mark Rodgers’ first return to Stamford Bridge as a manager since May 2015, when a Steven Gerrard goal helped his Liverpool side take a point back to Merseyside.

Team News

Christian Pulisic celebrates scoring for Chelsea on July 31, 2019© Reuters

Given the more composed nature of Chelsea’s performance in midweek, Lampard is likely to put out a team similar to that which played in Istanbul.

Giroud’s showing against Liverpool will likely see him get the nod over Abraham, who suffered racial abuse online after his penalty miss in Istanbul, while Pulisic’s creativity and energy should see him keep his place ahead of Barkley.

Willian and Antonio Rudiger were on the bench in the Super Cup but are unlikely to be considered for starting roles on Sunday as they continue to work back towards full fitness.

Rodgers is likely to make changes to his side for the trip to Chelsea, with Hamza Choudhury the most likely to make way in midfield.

That change could see Maddison drop back into a slightly deeper role and Barnes, Albrighton or Gray introduced to give the away team a bit more pace and thrust out wide.

Chelsea possible starting lineup:
Kepa; Azpilicueta, Zouma, Christensen, Emerson; Kovacic, Jorginho, Kante; Pedro, Giroud, Pulisic

Leicester City possible starting lineup:
Schmeichel; Pereira, Evans, Soyuncu, Chilwell; Tielemans, Ndidi, Maddison; Barnes, Vardy, Albrighton


Head To Head

Sunday’s meeting will be the 115th competitive fixture between the two clubs, with Chelsea currently boasting 56 wins in comparison to Leicester’s 26.

Although the last four meetings between these sides have been rather turgid affairs, with just four goals scored, the Foxes have taken four points from their previous two visits to West London, winning their last meeting in December 2018 1-0 thanks to a Vardy goal.

Interestingly, these two sides have met three times in August during the Premier League era, with Chelsea winning the last two.

We say: Chelsea 2-1 Leicester

Although Leicester will have less of the ball than they did against Wolves and therefore more opportunities to counter-attack, Chelsea have played some good football in their opening two games this season and look good value to get their first win of the season here.


Leave a Comment

%d bloggers like this: