Chelsea will look to seal the third-place finish in the Premier League table when they lock horns with Leicester City on home turf this midweek.
With the final week of the 2021/22 Premier League season underway, only 13 fixtures remain to be played out this season, with three of those set to take place on Thursday night. The two games involving Everton and Burnley will have major repercussions towards the bottom end of the table, but Chelsea will play hosts to Leicester City at Stamford Bridge with very little at stake.
Following Arsenal’s shock loss to Newcastle United, Chelsea’s top-four finish was secured as they have a four-point lead over the fifth-placed Gunners, who have just one game left. The Blues will now look to lock down the third place ahead of Tottenham, who are two points behind Thomas Tuchel’s men and have just one match left to be played.
A season that started with so much promise for Chelsea, as they won the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup, is set to end on a bit of an underwhelming note, following the two cup final defeats – the most recent one coming last weekend at Wembley in the FA Cup. But they will be keen to give something to the fans to cheer for in the final two matchdays at Stamford Bridge.
As for Leicester City, it has been a campaign full of disappointments as they have looked nothing like the team that challenged for European football in the last couple of seasons. Even their UEFA Europa Conference League run was brought to an end at the semi-final stage by AS Roma, meaning Brendan Rodgers’ side are set for no involvement on the continental level next term.
But, the Foxes are currently ninth in the table and will be looking to secure a top-half finish in the standings as the likes of Brentford, Newcastle United and Crystal Palace are still within a shout of finishing within the top ten. But, having secured back-to-back big wins against Norwich City and Watford, Leicester will back themselves to end the season on a high.
The reverse fixture played in November last year ended in a 3-0 win for Chelsea, with goals coming from Antonio Rudiger, N’Golo Kante and Christian Pulisic. Ahead of their latest meeting on Thursday night, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.
Team News & Tactics
The latest #CheLei team news from the boss ahead of tomorrow night. ⤵️
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) May 18, 2022
Long-time absentee Ben Chilwell has resumed training, but the former Leicester City left-back is unlikely to participate this season. Meanwhile, Timo Werner is ruled out with a hamstring injury he picked up while warming up ahead of the FA Cup final. In addition, Kai Havertz and Mateo Kovacic are also major doubts for the contest due to hamstring and ankle issues, respectively.
Andreas Christensen is also unlikely to feature after he ruled himself out of contention for the FA Cup final against Liverpool ahead of his impending summer exit. Callum Hudson-Odoi is also a confirmed absentee for Chelsea.
With not much left to play for, Thomas Tuchel might be tempted to give some youngsters a chance, although he might hold back on that for the final game versus Watford. On Thursday, the German tactician should field his strongest side to lock down the third place in the standings.
Edouard Mendy is a guaranteed starter between the sticks for Chelsea. Cesar Azpilicueta should come in for Trevoh Chalobah, who started in the FA Cup final. Thiago Silva could be rested after he soldiered through with a knock against Liverpool. Antonio Rudiger should move into the central position in the three-man defence, with Malang Sarr getting the nod on the left.
Reece James and Marcos Alonso are locked down to start as the wing-backs on the right and left sides, respectively. With Kovacic a doubt, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Jorginho might start in the centre of the park, with N’Golo Kante likely to be held back given his recent injury issues. The front trio of Mason Mount, Romelu Lukaku and Christian Pulisic should remain intact.
Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Mendy; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Sarr; Azpilicueta, Loftus-Cheek, Jorginho, Alonso; Mount, Lukaku, Pulisic
Ryan Bertrand (knee), Wilfred Ndidi (knee) and Hamza Choudhury (groin) are all ruled out for Leicester City ahead of their trip to London. Ricardo Pereira and Youri Tielemans are doubts for the contest and will undergo late fitness tests to determine their availability. Nampalys Mendy should return to the squad after recovering from his illness.
The latest news on Youri Tielemans, Ricardo Pereira, Papy Mendy and Hamza Choudhury as City prepare for #CheLei on Thursday ?
— Leicester City (@LCFC) May 17, 2022
Brendan Rodgers should set his team up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Kasper Schmeichel returning in goal after being rested against Watford. He will have a backline comprising Timothy Castagne, Wesley Fofana, Jonny Evans and James Justin shielding him on the night. Evans could be in for a stern test against Romelu Lukaku, who has found his goalscoring boots back in recent games.
The fit-again Mendy should essay the holding role in the centre of the park, with Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall providing support while also looking to press forward and get involved in attacking moves. James Maddison should act as the chief creator for the Foxes, slotting in as the No. 10.
Harvey Barnes will carry a significant threat from the left flank and could be involved in an interesting battle with Reece James. Marc Albrighton should feature out on the right wing, with Jamie Vardy continuing as the lone striker after grabbing a double against Watford last time out.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Schmeichel; Castagne, Fofana, Evans, Justin; Dewsbury-Hall, Mendy; Albrighton, Maddison, Barnes; Vardy
- Following their 3-0 victory against Leicester City earlier this season, Chelsea are looking to complete their first league double over the Foxes since 2016/17.
- Leicester have won just one of their past nine Premier League away games against Chelsea (D3 L5).
- Chelsea have picked up just one win in their past four Premier League matches at home (D1 L2). They have also shipped ten goals in these four games.
- Leicester City have not won their final away game in any of their last 13 Premier League campaigns (D3 L10), since a 4-2 win at Blackburn in 1996/97.
- Chelsea have won only five of their 17 league matches against teams currently in the top half of the table this season (D8, L4).
Player to Watch
With just two games left to be played in the season, these could be the final opportunities for Romelu Lukaku to save his Chelsea career. Signed for a club-record fee in the summer amid huge expectations, the Belgian superstar has underwhelmed hugely, managing just eight goals in 25 Premier League games this term.
Of the eight goals, three have come in his last two league games, indicating that the striker might be finding his mojo back. While he could not impact the proceedings in the FA Cup final against Liverpool, Lukaku will be aiming to bounce back strongly and make a huge impression in the last couple of matches amid Chelsea’s links with a summer move for Robert Lewandowski.
Chelsea 1-1 Leicester City
Chelsea’s home form has not been good enough this season, with the Blues having won just eight of their 17 league games at Stamford Bridge. They have picked up only one victory in their previous five matches at Stamford Bridge in all competitions. And the morale will be shot following the FA Cup final defeat to Liverpool via penalty shootouts.
Meanwhile, Leicester City have found some form at the backend of the season, having won their last two matches with an aggregate scoreline of 8-1. However, they have been woeful away from home this season, winning just four from 18 games on the road. So, even though recent form might be on the Foxes’ side, The Hard Tackle predicts this one to end in a scored draw.