Chelsea look ready to put the past five months of absolute misery behind us, and all we have to do is beat a Leicester City team barely treading water in the relegation battle at the moment (the bottom nine teams are separated by just six points, which should make for an intriguing run-in). But in order to do that not only will we have to a win a third match in a row, but also win an away match — neither of which we have done since October.
Still, the vibes are nigh immaculate after Tuesday’s delightful 2-0 win over Borussia Dortmund, so if we are to keep taking steps forward, these are the sorts of games where we have to force ourselves to keep taking them. It’s easy to get up for a big European night; can we do it on a cold and rainy Saturday afternoon somewhere in the Midlands?
(And without yours truly in attendance?)
Date / Time: Saturday, March 11, 2023, 15.00 GMT; 10am EST; 8:30pm IST
Venue: King Power Stadium, Leicester, England
Referee: Andre Marriner (on pitch); Graham Scott (VAR)
Forecast: Cold and rainy
On TV: none (UK); USA, Universo (USA); Star Sports Select HD1 (India); SuperSport MaXimo 2 (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: none (UK); NBC Sports Live, Telemundo Deportes En Vivo (USA); Hotstar (India); DStv Now (NGA)
Leicester City team news: Brendan Rodgers celebrated four years at the club last weekend to the tune of chants calling for his sacking, with the Foxes mired in 15th place and just two points above the drop zone. Even if they avoid relegation, they’re likely to end up in the bottom half of the table for the first time in six years, and quite likely with their worst finish in nearly a decade, since getting promoted in 2014. Rodgers needs a win like Graham Potter needed a win this time last week, perhaps even more so.
The return of captain Jonny Evans after five months out with a calf injury could be a welcome boost, but midfielder Youri Tielemans (who scored the winning goal against us in the 2021 FA Cup final) remains out while second leading scorer Harvey Barnes (who already scored against us this season) is questionable with an ankle knock. Full backs James Justin and Victor Kristiansen remain out as well, while former Blue Ryan Bertrand hasn’t played in nearly 16 months thanks to back-to-back knee surgeries — though he has recently returned to training, so there may be light at the end of that long dark tunnel for him yet.
Leicester have lost four on the bounce, including getting eliminated from the FA Cup by lower league opposition in their previous home game. In fact, they have just one win at home since the World Cup (hilariously enough, 4-1 over Spurs).
Chelsea team news: The mood has improved but the injury list has also grown, and Reece James and Raheem Sterling have been ruled out yet again — hopefully for just this weekend. Thiago Silva, N’Golo Kanté, Mason Mount, and Édouard Mendy are all among those who remain out, tough César Azpilicueta might be available to play. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang faces a late fitness test (not to mention a late selection test).
Tuesday’s win and progression into the Champions League quarterfinals has led to a deluge of proclamations (certainly from the players, if not the manager) that we’re over the worst of whatever has been collectively ailing us, but we now have to prove that on the pitch — and then keep proving that every weekend after as well. We’ve taken steps forward before only to be quickly knocked backwards again.
If we can put a run together, top-six may not be completely out of reach, but at the same time, if we keep losing as we have for much of the winter and early spring, a relegation fight isn’t out of the question either.
Previously: One of the few good things to happen in the early season was our win with just ten men against Leicester at the Bridge; Sterling with the brace.