After time away from the Premier League staple for two cup campaigns, the bread and butter is back on the menu this weekend. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton focus in on the visit from the Foxes…
This weekend, the Premier League champions of the past three seasons meet for the second time in the league campaign. Second-placed Manchester United are not in action until Sunday, so the opportunity to leapfrog the Mancunians is there for the taking.
Precisely two-thirds of the way through the Premier League season, Antonio Conte’s men deserve credit for achieving 14 victories from the 22 games today – the second highest in the top flight.
In fine form at home in the league following the 5-0 beating of Stoke last time out, Chelsea are targeting Leicester for a second top-flight ‘double’ of the campaign.
Over their past eight games on the road, however, the Foxes match the records of Chelsea, Arsenal, and Burnley, and have fared better than Spurs. And with successive draws across three different competitions this past week, the next 11 days could go some way to defining Chelsea’s season.
As far as Saturday is concerned, the title-holders will also hope to stay on track to beat the club record for successive home wins over a single Premier League season, currently the 11 notched from the beginning of the 2005/06 season.
Chelsea are seeking an eighth consecutive home Premier League victory.
Visitors Leicester and six other Premier League clubs have switched coaches during the season. Under first Michael Appleton then Claude Puel they have steered the surest course of the seven away from the threat of relegation, as evidenced by current points per game compared to the rate at the time the termination took place. Only West Brom, visitors to the Bridge in a few weeks, have fared worse after the change.
Wednesday’s Carabao Cup draw brought the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) trial experience to Stamford Bridge. Broadcasters and viewers have understandably given the system the thumbs-up, with the system bringing key parts of the drama out of the live arena and onto the small screen.
Some inside the stadium felt the experiment has kinks to iron out, especially relating to communication to the paying public there and delays to the action. While Chelsea waited to take a potentially crucial late corner, for example, the referee stood still for over a minute with his finger on his ear. Since no public signal had been given, there were cries from the stands of ‘What’s going on?’ and ‘Get on with it!’. In contrast, at another point visiting fans actually chanted ‘V–A–R! V–A–R!’ after a challenge.
VAR will be in play again for the next two Wednesdays: our FA Cup replay against Norwich and the Carabao Cup last-four visit to the Emirates.
Should the Blues put the Canaries back in their cage, the FA Cup round-four tie against Rafael Benitez’s Newcastle will be played on Sunday 28 January, with a 1.30pm start.
A record 8.8m votes selected the UEFA.com Fans’ Team of the Year 2017, with Eden Hazard one of just two Premier League men to make the cut (the other was his Belgian compatriot, Kevin De Bruyne).
He is the first Chelsea player to feature in the XI since Ashley Cole in 2010, and the ninth since its inception in 2001.
UEFA Fans’ Team of the Year roll call
2004 Ricardo Carvalho
2005 Petr Cech and John Terry
2007 Didier Drogba and John Terry
2008 John Terry
2009 John Terry
2010 Ashley Cole
2017 Eden Hazard
He looks set to to join Premier League Huddersfield.
Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere, who injured an ankle at the Bridge, is a doubt for the Gunners’ trip to Bournemouth this weekend.
Summer-signing Ousmane Dembele returned as a substitute for Barcelona against Celta Vigo on Thursday in the Copa del Rey after four months on the sidelines.
Barcelona won 5-0.
Coached by Joe Edwards, Chelsea’s exciting development squad are two steps away from appearing in a new cup final for the club at Wembley. The draw for the Checkatrade Trophy quarter-finals paired them with League One Oxford United.
Leicester’s U21s, yet to fulfil their postponed last 16 trip to Oldham, are the only other development squad left in the competition. Provided they beat the Latics they will face Shrewsbury away in the next round.
At the lower age group Chelsea’s Under-18s continue the defence of their multiple back-to-back FA Youth Cup titles by entertaining West Bromwich Albion at Aldershot next Wednesday, a 7pm kick-off. Jody Morris’s young Blues are currently unbeaten in 20 matches in the competition.
Second-placed Chelsea Ladies go head to head with WSL league leaders Manchester City Women on two fronts over the coming weeks. Both sides are unbeaten in all domestic competitions this season and first up is an FA WSL Continental Tyres Cup semi-final on Sunday at Kingsmeadow with a 2pm start.
The WSL1 home league game against the same opposition, postponed a month ago as a result of the weather, will now kick off at 7pm on Thursday 1 February at the same venue. Tickets for the earlier date will be valid for the new one.
The best that can happen this weekend…
Foxes brushed aside and the Blues back up to second.
Chelsea v Leicester 3pm
Crystal Palace v Burnley 3pm
Huddersfield v West Ham 3pm
Newcastle v Swansea 3pm
Watford v Southampton 3pm
West Brom v Brighton 3pm
Tottenham v Everton 5.30pm – BT Sport
Bournemouth v Arsenal 1.30pm – Sky Sports
Liverpool v Manchester City 4pm – Sky Sports
Manchester United v Stoke 8pm – Sky Sports
Premier League table – top half
Last Updated: 20:00, Fri 12 Jan
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