Chelsea can climb above Manchester United into second place in the Premier League if they beat Leicester City at Stamford Bridge on Saturday as Week 23 of the Premier League campaign gets underway.
The Blues sit third in the standings and remain 16 points off the relentless pace being set by leaders Manchester City, but only a point separates them from United, who are set to host Stoke City on Monday night.
Manager Antonio Conte’s side are unbeaten in their last eight games but have drawn their last three away outings in all competitions, including a 0-0 stalemate at Norwich City in the FA Cup third round on Saturday.
The Citizens are the only team to have won more home league matches than Chelsea this season, although the Foxes have proved they’re no slouches on the road, winning 13 of their 30 points away from the King Power Stadium.
Read on for a preview of Saturday’s Stamford Bridge showdown, complete with the latest team news and essential live-stream information.
Date: Saturday, January 13
Time: 3 p.m. GMT/10 a.m. ET
Venue: Stamford Bridge, London
Live Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra (U.S.)
TV Info: NBCSN (U.S.)
Some Chelsea supporters will be champing at the bit to see £15 million January recruit Ross Barkley in action as soon as possible, but it’s likely Saturday’s clash will come too soon for the sidelined star.
The former Everton midfielder hasn’t made an appearance this season due to injury, and Conte offered an update on his new player’s fitness in midweek, via Goal:
That being said, Toffees manager Sam Allardyce indicated prior to Barkley’s move he could be fit in “early January,” meaning a week in Chelsea training could be sufficient for the player to feature in some aspect.
As for Leicester’s absences, manager Claude Puel said prior to the FA Cup stalemate at Fleetwood Town on Saturday star striker Jamie Vardy could return for the Chelsea game, per PhysioRoom.co.uk.
As well as having a potential void in attack, there are issues for the Foxes in defence, as the French tactician offered updates on Wes Morgan, Robert Huth and Danny Simpson, who looks likely to miss the Chelsea trip:
Daniel Amartey is a candidate to fill in at right-back in Simpson’s place, while Aleksandar Dragovic or Yohan Benalouane could partner Harry Maguire in central defence should both Morgan and Huth miss out.
Chelsea’s hopes of defending the Premier League crown look to be over, but a win over the Foxes would give the west Londoners a boost if it saw them gain even temporary superiority over United.
It’s a credit to Conte given the club started their defence in woeful fashion, and BBC 5 live Sport pundit Julien Laurens recently spoke of the interest the Italian is said to be attracting from abroad:
At the King Power Stadium, meanwhile, Puel is masterminding a revival of his own after Leicester’s season also got off to a poor beginning under Craig Shakespeare, although recent form has been lacking.
The 0-0 draw at Fleetwood stretched Leicester’s record to just one win in their last seven, and the manager didn’t mince his words when noting his side’s weaknesses after that result: