The transfer window has come and gone and not much has changed. So we return to football and remember that Chelsea are on the precipice of the toughest stretch of the season, even if we get a winter break first. Following this weekend’s match, it’s basically an international break without the international duty that follows. Hopefully that will be enough to rejuvenate the squad for the big push. Like a new signing!
But before all that, we have the small matter of taking on third place Leicester City in a veritable top-four six-pointer in Saturday’s early kickoff. While the two teams’ positions will not change regardless of who wins, the winner will surely feel a lot more comfortable about their top-four prospects going forward.
Basically, it’s a must-win for both Chelsea and Leicester City.
Date / Time: Saturday, February 1, 2020, 12.30 GMT; 7.30am EST; 6pm IST
Venue: King Power Stadium, Leicester
Referee: Lee Mason — this will the first Chelsea match for Lee Mason in 15 months, since a 2-0 win over Bournemouth just after the start of last season.
Forecast: Sunny but very windy
On TV: BT Sport 1 (UK); NBCSN, Universo (USA); Star Sports Select HD1 (India); SuperSport 3, Canal+ Sport 2 (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: BT Sport Live (UK); NBC Sports Live, Universo Now (USA); Hotstar VIP (India); DStv Now (NGA)
Leicester City team news: It was a relatively quiet transfer window for Leicester as well, though they did bring in Ryan Bennett on loan (with an option to buy) from Wolves on Deadline Day. Bennett will act as cover instead of the injured Wes Morgan for first-choice center back pairing Jonny Evans and Çağlar Söyüncü.
Joining Morgan on the injury list are Daniel Amartey, Matthew James, and Nampalys Mendy, though none of the four have played a huge role this season. Leicester should be able to field their strongest lineup, including Jamie Vardy, who has gotten over a recent glute injury.
Despite Leicester’s strong position in the league, they have hit a bit of a rough patch, losing three of their last five in all competitions, including a last-minute defeat at Aston Villa in the League Cup semifinal on Tuesday.
View from the enemy: Fosse Posse
Chelsea team news: Chelsea made no major moves, in or out, over the past month, so if we are to find consistency, we’re going to do so using the same players as in the first-half of the season. Maybe Olivier Giroud will be more involved? He’s apparently fit and ready to play (he trained on Friday despite all the transfer rumors and failed hopes), but so are Tammy Abraham (whose ankle was good enough to fully train on Friday as well) and Michy Batshuayi (who scored last weekend in the FA Cup and has been Tammy’s primary backup).
five six-point! advantage over fifth place is looking rather precarious, and is unlikely to becomes any less precarious if we continue to waste goal-scoring chances at one end and let in cheap, silly goals at the other. With no outside help coming, it is up to us to improve and fix things. Christian Pulisic will be back after the winter break, and Ruben Loftus-Cheek is slowly getting closer as well, so they might help in that regard.
Previously: The early season 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge was a sign of things to come for both teams, as it turns out. Our 4-2 win over the Foxes a couple years ago was much more fun, especially that Cesar Azpilicueta goal, which still occupies a prominent place in the memory banks.