Chelsea Team News: Injuries, suspensions and line-up vs Leicester
Everything you need to know ahead of the Premier League match at the King Power Stadium
Chelsea seen their best-ever winning run in the league come to an end after a 2-0 defeat to rivals Tottenham, but Antonio Conte will look to bounce back against the Premier League champions, Leicester City, on Saturday.
Claudio Ranieri’s side upset the odds to take Chelsea’s title last season, with the Blues having ended their year by finishing in tenth place. N’Golo Kante will also return to the King Power Stadium for the first time since leaving in the summer.
Leicester are back down near the bottom of the table since selling the omnipresent Frenchman, but they recently improved their form and have not lost in their past three games. Chelsea are five points clear at the top of the table with Liverpool – who face Man Utd at the weekend – trailing behind them.
Chelsea have no new ‘official’ injuries ahead of their match on Saturday, but rumours suggest Marcos Alonso has been playing through a long-term problem, which has been cited as one reason for Nathan Ake’s early return from his Bournemouth loan deal.
Ake will be in contention to start, but he will likely be on the bench. Like Ake, Charly Musonda and Kenedy have come back from their loan moves, but they are not yet registered to play in the Premier League as Conte waits to see if he will send them out on temporary moves once again.
David Luiz has had his bandages removed after playing through a minor injury for the past month, picked up during Sergio Aguero’s red card tackle in the 3-1 win over Manchester City on 3 December.
Conte, however, has dropped a hint that there may be an injury or two at his press conference ahead of the game: “I have to check a couple of situations and then decide tomorrow. I don’t want to give an advantage to our opponent.”
John Terry was recently sent off in Chelsea’s 4-1 win over Peterborough United and the suspension has been upheld, despite an appeal from the west London club.
The club’s captain was dismissed for a professional foul which means that he will serve a one-game ban and return to face Hull City on 22 January.
As we enter the New Year, the rules alter slightly regarding suspensions for an accumulation of yellow cards, with 10 bookings now being required to get a ban. Pedro is the closest player to Chelsea’s next suspension as he moves to six bookings picked up in league and cup competition.
CHELSEA POTENTIAL STARTING LINE-UP
Conte made huge changes for his cup match against League 1 side Peterborough, but he is expected to go back to using his tried and tested line up despite the recent defeat to Tottenham.
Chelsea recorded an incredible 13 win match winning streak as they played in a 3-4-3 formation, and their success was aided by Conte keeping his squad rotation to a minimum. Diego Costa, Eden Hazard and Victor Moses got a full rest last time out and they are expected to return.
Willian and Pedro will fight for a place, with both players in excellent form. Cesc Fabregas and Nemanja Matic will also battle it out in the centre of midfield, with N’Golo Kante expected to start as one of the two in the middle, against his old club.
Leicester face many more problems than Chelsea ahead of the clash, with Islam Slimani, Daniel Amartey and Riyad Mahrez all off at the African Cup of Nations.
Jamie Vardy and Andy King were struck down with illness and missed Leicester’s FA Cup win over Everton, but they are expected to return. Leonardo Ulloa got a minor injury during the match at Goodison Park as he breaks back into the midlands club.
BEST OPTA MATCH FACTS
Chelsea have not beaten the reigning Premier League champions twice in the same season since 2009/10, a season in which they ended up lifting the trophy.
Costa has had a hand in 11 goals in his last 11 Premier League appearances away from home (nine goals, two assists).
Conte has not lost two successive league matches away from home as a manager since May 2011 while managing Serie A side Siena.
TV COVERAGE & KICK-OFF TIME
In the UK, the game is on BT Sport 1 at 17:30 on Saturday evening.