Chelsea travel to Leicester on Tuesday evening, with the hosts having the chance to go top of the Premier League with a win as Manchester United and Manchester City don’t play until Wednesday.
The Foxes are flying high and remain well positioned to finish inside the top four as the season approaches the halfway point, dispatching Southampton over the weekend in a comprehensive 2-0 victory at the King Power Stadium.
Chelsea, meanwhile, are struggling for a way back into the top four and remain stuck in a crowd of clubs that are within just a few points of each other. They edged past Fulham at the weekend to stay in the rat race, but Frank Lampard’s side are underperforming for all the money that’s been invested in the squad.
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In a clash that could be key to deciding who stays in the Champions League positions come the end of the season, here’s 90min‘s preview.
When is kick off? Tuesday 19 January
What time is kick off? 20:15 (GMT)
Where is it played? King Power Stadium
TV Channel/Live stream? Sky Sports Main Event, Sky Sports Premier League
Referee? Craig Pawson
Jamie Vardy was forced off late on with an injury against Southampton at the weekend. Head coach Brendan Rodgers is hopeful the 34-year-old will be available on Tuesday, however.
Dennis Praet remains sidelined for Leicester, who otherwise boast a fully fit squad. Caglar Soyuncu is available and could feature for the first time this year, while right-back Ricardo Pereira returned to the Leicester matchday squad at the weekend.
The visitors rested key players at the weekend ahead of the trip to Leicester and are only without N’Golo Kante, who is out with a hamstring problem.
Kurt Zouma could be restored to the starting XI, while Reece James may make a return from injury, and Andreas Christensen has also returned to fitness.
Leicester: (4-2-3-1): Schmeichel; Castagne, Soyuncu, Evans, Justin; Ndidi, Tielemans; Albrighton, Maddison, Barnes; Vardy.
Chelsea: (4-3-3): Mendy; James, Silva, Zouma, Chilwell; Kovacic, Havertz, Mount; Hudson-Odoi, Abraham, Werner.
Since slipping to a disappointing 2-0 defeat at home to Everton in December, Leicester have managed to regroup efficiently and have since gone unbeaten in their last six games.
In that time, they’ve also nicked a point off Manchester United and three from Tottenham, meaning the chance to take more from a fellow top-four rival is something they’ll likely relish. Harvey Barnes is in form and has bagged three goals from his last four games, while James Maddison is also enjoying himself and has two goals from his last three games, as the Foxes impress in attack.
Chelsea, meanwhile, are still trying to find the perfect balance that gets their wealth of attacking talent firing on all cylinders. Their weekend victory was well earned against a hard-to-beat Fulham side, but losing to Arsenal on Boxing Day was a clear highlight that Lampard still has work to do.
Timo Werner ended a 13-game goal draught in the FA Cup against Morecambe, but again could’ve done much better against Fulham. As for Kai Havertz, the 21-year-old has had to settle for substitute cameos in his last four league appearances.
Here’s each side’s last five results.
Leicester 2-0 Southampton (16/1)
Stoke 0-4 Leicester (9/1)
Newcastle 1-2 Leicester (3/1)
Crystal Palace 1-1 Leicester (28/12)
Leicester 2-2 Manchester United (26/12)
Fulham 0-1 Chelsea (16/1)
Chelsea 4-0 Morecambe (10/1)
Chelsea 1-3 Manchester City (3/1)
Chelsea 1-1 Aston Villa (28/12)
Arsenal 3-1 Chelsea (26/12)
In a closely contested game with a lot at stake for the rest of the season, both sides must be at their very best.
For Leicester, three points keeps an unbeaten streak going and keeps their name alongside the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool. For Chelsea, an away victory would not only do wonders for the confidence of the squad after a difficult patch, but go a long way to moving them back up the table and bring a fellow rival down in the process.
Having said that, a defeat would be too costly for both sides. It’ll end a stalemate.
Prediction: Leicester 1-1 Chelsea