Top four race: Chelsea battle Leicester in a season defining fixture - Match prediction
|Kai Havertz in a tussle with James Madisson at the King Power in January. It ended 2-0 on the day. (Photo credit: Premierleague.com)|
Chelsea vs Leicester CityStamford Bridge Stadium20:15Hrs
It’s the second leg of the double header between Chelsea and Leicester City, the first ended happily for the Foxes, they had the Blues for dinner at the wilderness of Wembley Stadium at the altar of FA Cup.
There’s so much at stake in this encounter for both sides and it’s not as straightforward as history or form portrays; both have points to prove, one to show the victory over the weekend and the progress down the years isn’t a fluke and the other to show they’re not a spent force after the rise of Tuchel.
Leicester City beat Chelsea 1-0 at Wembley over the weekend to land their first ever FA Cup trophy having failed in four different finals, the win meant Chelsea lost the final in back to back years having lost to Arsenal on same ground last season.
Chelsea by this reason, and the fact they stand a risk of crashing out of the top four if they don’t keep things in their own hands must now beat Leicester and all but secure the top four while also keeping the morale as high as possible ahead of the big one against Manchester City at the end of the month.
Again for the Blues, they have bragging rights to fight for, Leicester must not win the trilogy in its entirety; the Foxes beat Chelsea 2-0 in January which led to the sacking of Frank Lampard and competing a league double over Chelsea will be on the cards for the King Power Landlords.
The dynamics suddenly changed against Thomas Tuchel and that’s how unfair football can be, one moment everyone was singing his praises as the man that changed the whole narrative of Chelsea’s season, landing them in the champions league final and leading them to the FA Cup final as well.
But after the cup final loss, missing out on top four and losing the champions league final against Manchester City will be the worst anticlimax ever since the shambolic 2014-15 season that saw Mourinho depart mid season having won the league for them the season before.
How will they line up? Leicester City know that Liverpool is lurking, the Foxes helped their own cause by beating Manchester United at Old Trafford last week, leaving them at advantage if they can do their business again effectively against Chelsea, they will be compact, defend deep and hit Chelsea on the break.
The pace of Jamie Vardy will once again open things up and force Chelsea to man him with a mobile personnel, Kelechi Iheanacho has scored on every day of the week in the premier league except on a Tuesday, he will look to end that drought against Chelsea.
Chelsea in all honesty have the fire power to Kill Leicester off but how many of their chances will they take? Timo Werner is wasteful, Kai Havertz isn’t any better and Tuchel doesn’t trust Olivier Giroud, this game will define his season, he has to be proactive.
Fans will forget the defensive records he built since joining Chelsea, fans will forget the victories over Manchester City and Real Madrid, if Chelsea somehow bottles the top four fight and doesn’t best City at the Porto Stadium on the 29th, Tuchel will understand what it means to work in England.
It’s a game of huge significance, for both sides and for the neutrals as well, both sides need results, a point might not be enough considering how close Liverpool are to the two, 90minutes might be too long as well but this particular game is a season defining one.
Verdict: Chelsea to win