Despite the possibility they may be top by Christmas, Leicester City’s run towards the title may be constantly under fire with every game that they drop points. Tonight’s game against a Chelsea side struggling for any kind of form, this may be a game that truly defines their title credentials.
True, the form of the Foxes has stunned everyone, and the questions of whether they can ‘do it’ are getting louder and louder. Although Chelsea appear to have very little in the way of attacking ideas, you cannot write Mourinho’s team off. In a game such as this, when the stakes are already sky high for both teams, Mourinho takes his team to the Midlands knowing they have to come away with something to show for it.
Their standout performer – Willian – will be out to menace tonight. A Chelsea backlash is incoming at some stage in the season. Tonight may be a perfect night to do it. Flaky as they look, Chelsea are awash with stars who can turn a game on its head. None more so than much maligned figure of Diego Costa, who’s physicality in the box may work well against the central defence of Robert Huth and Wes Morgan. Leicester are very much a team who play at speed with the ball on the ground, this all stemming from their defence who, likewise, are not hugely comfortable with the ball in the air. If Eden Hazard is able to wake up and play in same manner that same him scoop the Player of the Year gong last year, and send crosses into Costa, Chelsea will look dangerous.
But having said that, there is a reason why Leicester’s reversal of fortune from last year brings huge concern for anyone playing them. Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez have looked in perfect harmony on the pitch, bringing in 25 goals between them and accruing huge acclaim as they hauled Leicester up to the higher reaches of the Premier League elite. Against a Chelsea side low on confidence and leaky in defence, they have a prime opportunity to get the ball on the ground and tear into Chelsea’s weary looking defence. Although physically imposing as a unit, only Kurt Zouma appears blessed with speed to contend with Mahrez and Vardy. John Terry’s age is starting to show, while Branislav Ivanovic has looked nothing like the gladiatorial defender he showed himself to be last year.
Although Leicester have won games by two, sometimes even three, goals at a time, I have a feeling such a result is unlikely this evening. If Mourinho plays his tactics to the aerial strength of Costa and Willian, he will cause Leicester some problems. It only takes one defeat for Leicester’s title challenge to be written off by critics who claim they cannot ‘go the distance’. They are in unchartered territory right now, and although a fairytale is something that the majority of football fans everywhere would love to see, they absolutely cannot let it physiologically affect them.
Result: Draw – in a game such as this, it is absolutely vital that the full Chelsea XI turn up tonight. If, and only if, they do, they may just escape the King Power with something to show for it. As for Leicester, win this, and you can start believing. But a walk in the park, this certainly will not be.