Chelsea v Leicester preview: Jamie Vardy fit to return
Last Updated: 13/01/18 1:52pm
Chelsea are aiming to make it eight home Premier League wins on the bounce when Leicester City visit on Saturday afternoon.
Despite their strong run of late, Chelsea start the weekend 16 points behind leaders Manchester City. No side has come back to recover from such a deficit to win a Premier League title with the biggest ever recovery at any stage of a season being 13 points by Arsenal in 1997.
The Blues have won the last three Premier League meetings between these two and ran out 2-1 victors in the corresponding fixture earlier this season with goals from Alvaro Morata and N'Golo Kante.
After a run of four straight wins before Christmas, Leicester have lost three of their last five matches and drew 0-0 with Fleetwood in the FA Cup third round last weekend. The Foxes are also winless in their last 12 away Premier League games against 'big six' opposition (W0 D3 L9) - losing each of the last five.
Chelsea are expected to field a full-strength side against Leicester. Captain Gary Cahill was rested for the midweek Carabao Cup semi-final first-leg with Arsenal and could return in defence.
Ross Barkley is expected to be fit to make his debut following a hamstring injury in Chelsea's FA Cup third-round replay with Norwich next Wednesday.
Jamie Vardy is fit again after missing Leicester's FA Cup trip to his former club Fleetwood.
The striker will travel to Chelsea on Saturday after recovering from the groin injury which made him sit out the goalless draw at Highbury Stadium last Saturday.
Wes Morgan and Danny Simpson (both hamstring) and Robert Huth (ankle) are out but Christian Fuchs (illness) and Vicente Iborra (hamstring) are fit for Claude Puel's side at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea have lost just one of their last 11 meetings with Leicester City in the Premier League (W9 D1 L1) - losing 1-2 in December 2015 at the King Power Stadium.
Leicester City have won just once in their 11 previous Premier League visits to Stamford Bridge (W1 D3 L7) - winning 2-0 in September 2000, with Muzzy Izzet and Stan Collymore getting on the scoresheet.
Since losing to Man City in September, Chelsea have won each of their last seven home Premier League games, shipping just three goals and keeping five clean sheets in that time.
Antonio Conte has won 25 of his opening 30 home Premier League games as manager, no boss in the competition has won more of their opening 30. Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti also won 25, with Mourinho drawing and Ancelotti losing their 31st home games in charge.
Leicester have both scored and conceded in 14 of their 22 league games this season - more than any other Premier League side.
Davide Zappacosta (who had no goals or assists in his first 11 Premier League games) has come off the bench to either score or assist a goal in each of his last two league appearances.
Riyad Mahrez has been directly involved in 14 goals (7 goals, 7 assists) after 22 Premier League games this season; nine more than he had managed after as many games in 2016-17 (five - three goals, two assists).
Since August 2014, Vardy has scored more Premier League goals against 'big six' opposition than any other player (22 goals in 41 apps).
Before I watched the Carabao Cup semi-final with Arsenal I would have said Chelsea would win this 3-0, but I'm not so sure now. They struggled in what was a poor game.
Having said that, I think Chelsea will have too much for a Leicester side whose form has been up and down. They lost to Watford, who have won once in a blue moon, and with Chelsea needing a win to consolidate their position in the top four, I fear for the Foxes.
PAUL PREDICTS: 2-0 (11/2 with Sky Bet)