Leicester City will ensure that they spend another week at the top of the Premier League if they can overcome floundering champions Chelsea at the King Power Stadium on Monday evening.
It seems as if everybody is waiting for Leicester to slip up and start tumbling down the table, but every week they are continuing to defy the pre-season odds. If the respective league positions of these two sides were to be reversed, it would more accurately reflect where many expected them to be at this stage when the action began back in August, but the Foxes have lost just once in 19 top-flight games and look to going from strength to strength ahead of a tough run of festive fixtures.
Jamie Vardy’s record breaking run of goalscoring may have come to an end, but that did not affect his side in any way in their last match at Swansea City as a hat-trick from another outstanding performer in Riyad Mahrez brought about a comprehensive victory. Mahrez now has 11 goals for the season himself and will be a huge threat to the Chelsea defence in this one, while N’Golo Kante continues to prove himself to be a revelation in midfield, keeping the much more experienced Gokhan Inler out of the reckoning. Manager Claudio Ranieri would dearly love to claim success over his former club.
Despite putting on considerable second half pressure, last weekend’s home game against Bournemouth proved to be another sorry episode in what has been a miserable season for Chelsea as they conceded late to go down to a demoralizing 1-0 loss, leaving boss Jose Mourinho with almost an air of resignation post-match. However, they have fared much better in the Champions League and they got the job done on Wednesday in terms of advancing to the last 16, seeing off FC Porto to top their group.
On the whole over recent weeks, the Blues defence does seem to be regaining its solidity, having kept clean sheets in four of their last five outings since the international break. This is important for the club in the long run as Gary Cahill and Kurt Zouma look to form a successful partnership, so even for a side in such a buoyant mood as Leicester, they promise to be hard to break down, while their ability going forward can never be underestimated.
This game comes too soon for Leicester midfielder Matt James, and they will also be without the injured Ritchie De Laet. Winger Nathan Dyer is back available after being ineligible for the win at Swansea.
Ramires and captain John Terry are back in contention for Chelsea, but Radamel Falcao is not yet ready to make his comeback from a muscle injury.
Last Meeting: A 3-1 win for Chelsea in April moved them to the brink of securing the Premier League title, condemning Leicester to the only defeat of their superb late-season run. The hosts actually led at half-time through Marc Albrighton, who side-footed in a cross from Jamie Vardy, but Mourinho’s team hit back strongly after the break as Didier Drogba leveled with his last goal for the club before John Terry and Ramires sealed a fine result.
Played for both – Frank Sinclair: The Jamaican international defender began his career with Chelsea and spent eight years with the club before leaving in 1998, a year after helping them win the FA Cup. He scored a total of seven goals in 169 league appearances for the Blues before moving to the East Midlands, where he was again an important player, helping to win the League Cup in both of his first two seasons. In all, Sinclair played 164 league games for Leicester, scoring three goals.