At long last, Chelsea, and Frank Lampard, are coming home. After 12 consecutive games away from the Bridge — the last league game of last season, the charity friendly in the USA, the Europa League final, all 7 preseason friendlies, and the first 2 games of the new season — Chelsea are coming home.
In his first ever match as manager at Stamford Bridge, Lampard’s Chelsea get to take on Leicester City, who, incidentally, were the team that started the 12-match away streak. It finished 0-0 at the King Power back on the sunny May afternoon, now both teams will be looking to do better.
The N’Golo Kanté-led 2015-16 Champions have ambitions of the top six, and have the talent to make those ambitions a reality. Their season started with a disappointing scoreless draw at home against Wolves.
Meanwhile, the N’Golo Kanté-led 2016-17 Champions have ambitions of a title fight, but will hope to at least factor into the top four. Our season started with a disappointing loss at Old Trafford against Manchester United, followed up by a disappointing penalty shootout loss in the Super Cup against Liverpool.
Time for the disappointments to end ... for one of the teams.
Date / Time: Sunday, August 18, 2019; 16:30 BST; 11:30am EDT; 9:00pm IST
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6
Referee: Graham Scott — only the fifth ever Chelsea game for Scott, who refereed our 3-0 home win against Brighton and the 2-1 away win over Fulham last season
Forecast: Sunny intervals and a moderate breeze
On TV: Sky Sports Main Event (UK); Telemundo, NBCSN (USA); Star Sports Select HD1; elsewhere
Streaming: Sky GO (UK); Telemundo Deportes En Vivo, NBC Sports Live (USA); Hotstar (India)
Chelsea team news: After 120 grueling, draining, and ultimately disappointing minutes against Liverpool on Wednesday in the UEFA Super Cup, Chelsea will have to recover quickly, both physically and mentally, for the home opener.
Helpfully, we could see the returns of Willian and Antonio Rüdiger from hamstring and knee problems, respectively this weekend . The ever-present winger, who’s the closer of the two to full fitness, picked up his (very rare) injury during international duty over the summer, while the team’s best centre back has been out of contention since the end of last season.
Unfortunately, other key players are still out of contention, including Callum Hudson-Odoi (still no new contract announcement!) and Reece James, who should be back next month, and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who won’t be back for a while yet.
Lampard’s Chelsea have shown versatility, energy, quality, and plenty of desire but have yet to reap the deserved rewards.
Leicester team news: With former Chelsea youth and reserves coach Brendan Rodgers in charge, Leicester are hoping to be the emerging power of the Premier League’s midtable. They may have lost Harry Maguire to Manchester United for a world-record £80m, but they added solid attacking pieces in Ayoze Pérez and Dennis Praet and made Youri Tielemans’ loan permanent. There are plenty of goals in this side, which makes last weekend’s 0-0 even more surprising.
As always, there are no easy games in the Premier League, and this certainly won’t be one. The addition of Pérez has the Foxes even more dangerous on counters, even if that didn’t seem possible for a side that already lead the league in counter-attacking goals last season.
Previously: Last time Leicester came to the Bridge, just before Christmas, they left with just their second win at Stamford Bridge since the 1960s. So let’s instead remember back to the time when 1.69m Pedro won a header against 1.89m Kasper Schmeichel to take us to the 2017-18 FA Cup semifinal.