Leicester City and Chelsea will turn their attention to knockout football on Tuesday evening, with the pair clashing in the third round of the EFL Cup at the King Power Stadium (7.45pm Tuesday on Sky Sports 1).
Chelsea made it through to this stage of the tournament by beating League One outfit Bristol Rovers in the second round last month. Antonio Conte’s charges are without European football this term and may therefore take the domestic cup competitions more seriously than they otherwise would have done, with fixture congestion less of a concern for the Blues than many of their fellow Premier League title contenders.
Chelsea will also be looking to bounce back from Friday’s 2-1 loss to Liverpool in the top flight. It was Conte’s first competitive defeat since taking charge of the club. Chelsea looked somewhat vulnerable defensively and blunt going forward for the first time in the 2016/17 campaign.
This EFL Cup encounter could therefore be viewed as a way to restore confidence and self-belief, which could be particularly important given that Chelsea travel across the capital to take on Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium this weekend.
Leicester’s participation in the Champions League for the first time means Claudio Ranieri (pictured) is highly unlikely to take the EFL Cup too seriously. The Premier League champions also facing a tricky trip – Manchester United away – in their next match in the top tier.
Leicester’s confidence, unlike that of their upcoming opponents’, will be sky-high after back-to-back 3-0 triumphs over Club Brugge and Burnley. The fact that the draw has pitted them against a big team in Chelsea should actually work in their favour in terms of motivation and preparation. Ranieri will also want his charges to keep their winning run going, even if the EFL Cup is only third in his list of priorities this season.
The aforementioned setback against Liverpool could persuade Conte to name a stronger XI than he may have done if his side had won the game, but the Italian is still likely to shuffle his pack at the King Power Stadium.
Marcos Alonso, signed from Fiorentina late on in the summer transfer window, is in line for his debut at left-back. Players on the fringes of the squad – such as Michy Batshuayi, Asmir Begovic, Pedro Rodriguez, Victor Moses, Cesc Fabregas, Ola Aina and Ruben Loftus-Cheek – will be hoping to receive some meaningful game time. Kurt Zouma remains out until next month at the earliest and fellow central defender John Terry is still sidelined. Chelsea otherwise have a fully fit group to choose from.
Leicester are also expected to ring the changes for Tuesday’s meeting with the team they deposed as Premier League champions in May. The likes of Jamie Vardy, Danny Drinkwater, Robert Huth and Wes Morgan will probably be rested as Ranieri looks ahead to Saturday’s clash with Manchester United.
Summer signing and two-goal hero against Burnley Islam Slimani could start once again. Ahmed Musa, Andy King, Marcin Wasilewski, Leonardo Ulloa and Ben Chilwell are also in contention for a spot in the XI. Kasper Schmeichel remains unavailable for selection after a hernia operation.
Taking everything into account, our preview’s verdict is that it is probably worth siding with Chelsea to get the better of Leicester on in this match. The Blues’ squad has more strength in depth than the Foxes’, which could be decisive if both sides rotate, while the hosts at the King Power Stadium will probably not be too fussed if they exit the EFL Cup this week.
- Don’t forget to claim the various free bets on offer from the online bookies if you are planning to have a bet on this Leicester City v Chelsea EFL League Cup match.