PMB: Chelsea v Leicester City - tactics
news Sat 13 Jan 2018
We conclude our Pre-Match Briefing for today's Premier League game at the Bridge...
• Antonio Conte has seen his side draw three in succession using the 3-5-1-1 formation. The Blues are usually at our best when passing and moving at speed and Leicester’s defence, further diminished by the absence of Wes Morgan, Danny Simpson, and, perhaps, Christian Fuchs, has found it difficult to staunch the flow of goals away from home.
• While the 15th clean sheet of the season secured on Wednesday is very welcome, Chelsea have not hit the net in three of the past six matches. With some success, opposition teams are producing measures to counteract the Blues’ effectiveness, from the play-outs at the back to the flicks and passing triangles in the final third. As Conte consistently repeated last season, the best way to resolve those issues is hard work.
• Recent signing Ross Barkley was introduced to fans at half-time on Wednesday having already impressed his team-mates on the pitches at Cobham. The 24-year-old will have to work a few more days on fitness and tactics before his first match-day involvement. Otherwise the champions have a clean bill of health.
• Chelsea are one of five Premier League clubs to have used 21 players, the fewest over the campaign. The Norwich FA Cup replay on Wednesday may allow Conte to rest players ahead of the league trip to Brighton next weekend, and the Carabao Cup decider at Arsenal four days later. Today the head coach may largely field the same side that faced the Gunners in midweek, though Pedro, Gary Cahill, Michy Batshuayi and Tiemoue Bakayoko will be among those pressing for a freshening of the starting line-up.
• Former Foxes midfielder Danny Drinkwater was on the Chelsea bench for the first time for the reverse fixture (he remained unused), but another who made the switch south, N’Golo Kante, netted the winner in a 2-1 victory.
• Jamie Vardy tends to score against the better league teams, possibly because they are more likely to take the game to Leicester and leave the defensive acreage he likes to run into. It is important to stifle the supply line to him, especially from the clever Riyad Mahrez and adventurous Marc Albrighton. Should Vardy’s groin still rule him out, the Foxes’ threat may be more aerial in the form of Algeria international Islam Slimani.
• Claude Puel earned a reputation at Southampton for football different from the fast-paced counter-attacking style he oversaw at Monaco, and which he is attempting to implement at Leicester.
• When his usual 4-2-3-1 formation failed to deliver, previous manager Craig Shakespeare wrestled with different formations, including 4-1-4-1 and 4-4-1-1, but his successor has reverted to the old set-up. Wilfred Ndidi is providing the defensive screen for a centre-back pairing that has now more pace – and therefore defends higher up the pitch – since the addition of Harry Maguire.
• The Foxes are breachable – their one Premier League clean sheet on the road this season came in the stalemate at Bournemouth at the end of September, when Craig Shakespeare was still in charge.
• The Foxes will also miss some of their ability to overload down the flanks should neither Christian Fuchs nor Danny Simpson, their attacking full-backs, recover in time. Midfielder Adrien Silva has been working back to match fitness following his delayed summer transfer from Sporting, which was finally completed this month.
• Ndidi’s likely centre midfield partner Vicente Iborra is more of a creative threat with his pivotal distribution to Vardy or second striker Shinji Okazaki (who favours the quick, short pass), or Mahrez (who likes to run with the ball).
Old Boy Blues
• Berliner Robert Huth made his Chelsea debut in 2001/02 and having built a reputation for robust defending and sledgehammer free-kicks, he was a back-to-back Premier League champion at the Bridge 2004-2006.
• Andy King spent six years of his youth attached to the Chelsea Academy and was 15 when he joined Leicester.
Ross Barkley (match fitness)
Robert Huth (foot)
Wes Morgan (hamstring)
Danny Simpson (hamstring)
Christian Fuchs (illness)
Jamie Vardy (groin)