A familiar theme of this season has been boredom, with many games slowly meandering into dull affairs bereft of any attacking imagination. Conte’s tactics in various games this season have been surprising, and while 3-5-2 has worked at times so far, it encourages negativity and an over-reliance on Eden Hazard.
Meanwhile, in some games where we’ve been the only side looking to attack, Conte’s insistence on maintaining a back-three has meant that whilst looking totally untroubled defensively, in attack there’s either a shortage of an extra link-player to make the difference high up the pitch, or an inability to play two strikers. I feel Conte has resorted to type somewhat, with a clear preference for work and grit over flair and flamboyance, which I don’t believe is to the benefit of the team.
This weekend’s game with Leicester is likely to be no different, although the Foxes’ pace in attack with the likes of Jamie Vardy, Demarai Gray and Riyad Mahrez should pose the Chelsea back-line more problems than Norwich and Arsenal were able to. Leicester come into this one on the back of their own disappointing draw in the FA Cup, failing to beat Fleetwood.
Despite this, Claude Puel’s improvement of the Leicester side since his surprise appointment has been underappreciated in many quarters. The Foxes are a more potent attacking force under Puel, while Harry Maguire’s impressive performances ensure he is a near-certainty to be on the plane to Russia for the World Cup. In short, Leicester have enough quality to punish any off-day which we may have, especially after a physically draining midweek fixture whilst Leicester’s top men have rested.
Opposition player most feared
Mahrez’ wizardry on the wing is instrumental to Leicester’s best play. It is surprising that Mahrez hasn’t been snapped up by one of Europe’s biggest clubs, because he is a class act whose talent warrants Champions League football on a regular basis.
The Algerian has a wand of a left foot and even though he has some inconsistencies, his form this season has been excellent with some replication of the form that saw him win PFA Player of the Year in Leicester’s historic title campaign.
Predicted Starting XI
I really hope Conte picks a more attack-minded side for this game. 3-5-2 is not as effective as I had anticipated after the success of the Atletico Madrid away game in September, while it only increases the already scary reliance on Eden Hazard, with a lack of width evident for all to see. Therefore, I hope Conte brings in Willian or Pedro to provide an extra dimension to the attack, while I expect Gary Cahill to come in at centre-back.
The much-maligned Tiemoue Bakayoko could also come into the team at the expense of Danny Drinkwater, who was woeful against Arsenal and looked miles out of his depth. Despite each of the pair only being here for less than 6 months, the decision to spend a combined £75m on Bakayoko and Drinkwater looks to be a poor one. Anyhow, I expect a 3-4-3 formation.
Courtois; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Cahill; Moses, Kante, Bakayoko, Alonso; Willian, Morata, Hazard.
A comfortable if uninspiring 2-0 victory, and it appears to be a good bet considering the nature of our home league form, winning three consecutive Premier League games at Stamford Bridge to nil ...
... however, two poor results may transmit to league competition and the Foxes will be able to capitalise on any slip-up, so a 1-1 draw is a somewhat more pessimistic bet but a result which wouldn’t surprise me given the lacklustre and lethargic nature of our previous two matches.