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Leicester City vs Chelsea - 4 key battles | Premier League 2021-22

Chelsea v Burnley - Premier League
Chelsea v Burnley - Premier League
Shyam Kamal
ANALYST

Table-toppers Chelsea travel to Leicester City in the first encounter of Premier League 2021-22 following the end of the international break on Saturday. If the current is anything to go by, it is bound to be an end-to-end affair with sparks flying.

The current leaders of the PL have won four of their last five league fixtures. They drew their last game 1-1 against relegation fighting Burnley. Leicester, on the other hand, have won two, lost one and drawn two out of their last five games.

The Foxes sit an uncomfortable 12th in the PL table; this season not going as successfully as the previous ones under Brendan Rodgers. But with them playing at home, they have a chance at holding their own against Thomas Tuchel's marauding Chelsea.

This can be especially true if the Manager of the Month curse is real. It is believed that after a manager wins the award, their team will underperform the next month.

But keeping aside the curse, there are four key battles that will determine the result of this match. Let's take a look at these:


#1 Antonio Rüdiger (Chelsea) vs Jamie Vardy (Leicester City)

Brentford v Leicester City - Premier League
Brentford v Leicester City - Premier League

No one has played more minutes for Chelsea in the Premier League this season than Antonio Rüdiger. The second and third centre-back positions have been rotated between Thiago Silva, Andres Christensen and Trevoh Chalobah. But the German has remained a constant name at the back.

Christensen is an excellent defender but Chelsea have no one else who can provide the speed & physical intensity Rudiger brings to their defence. Huge blow #cfc

The reason for this is two fold. They are his pace when dealing with attackers who try to break the highline Chelsea employ and his aerial presence during set-pieces. The first is where he becomes Chelsea's most important defender against Leicester's chief goalscorer, Jamie Vardy.

Vardy is up seven goals so far this season in the league, four goals ahead of the next best scorer for the team. He well on his way to having yet another 20 goal season for the Foxes. And try as they have, other teams have not been able to keep Vardy from scoring.

Come on @EASPORTSFIFA ... 35,8 km/h top speed on the pitch and only 75 pace in FIFA22?! 😂 What do I need to get around 90 pace? 50 km/h? 🤣😂 https://t.co/tgTbmHgiDx

The plan is simple - outpace him and keep him always under pressure. Rudiger, being one of Chelsea's fastest players, is Chelsea's best way of neutralizing that threat.


#2 Caglar Soyuncu (Leicester) vs Kai Havertz (Chelsea)

Malmo FF v Chelsea FC: Group H - UEFA Champions League
Malmo FF v Chelsea FC: Group H - UEFA Champions League

With both Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner out injured, Havertz has emerged as the focal point of Chelsea's attack. His role as a false nine has paid rich dividends to the team from London.

He takes the third most shots per game in the team, and has one goal and one assist in his last two games in the league. In addition to that, the German international also scored in the international break against Armenia.

Soyuncu’s block off the line 🔥 https://t.co/eedGI4uUIt

Leicester's defense has not been on point in the Premier League, having conceded in the last 10 games. They have kept only one clean sheet in the league so far, the first game of the season.

Soyuncu has done reasonably well as an individual, leading his team in clearances per game (4.9). He also makes 1.1 interceptions per game and 0.7 blocks per game. He has to ensure that Havertz doesn't draw him away from the center, and still keep up with his runs at the back of the line.

#3 Reece James (Chelsea) vs Harvey Barnes (Leicester)

Chelsea v Burnley - Premier League
Chelsea v Burnley - Premier League

Chelsea fans would never have expected their leading scorer in the league to be Reece James (4) at any point, but here we are. The Englishman has been a revelation under Tuchel so far, scoring four goals in addition to registering three assists.

Thomas Tuchel:"Reece James shoots like a horse." https://t.co/LuB4WPMUdA

One of the issues with having a wing back who is as offensively involved as Reece James is having the wing prone to attack. Chelsea have not faced that problem too much, but against Leicester they have a problem on their hands with Harvey Barnes.

Barnes might have fewer goals (1) and assists (1) to his name, but he is the key creator in the Leicester goal buildup. He completed the third-most dribbles per game for the Foxes (1), and has 0.8 key passes per game. He is also their second biggest shooter (2.3 per game).

Harvey Barnes has scored his first goal for Leicester City since the 2-1 win over Aston Villa in February.Announcing his return from injury. 🤩 https://t.co/bdCLwEGFgN

Leicester would like to take advantage of James' proclivity to attack. Combined with Barnes and Vardy's pace on the ball, it will be good him to show how good he is in defense for a change.


#4 Youri Tielemans (Leicester) vs Ben Chilwell (Chelsea)

Newcastle United v Chelsea - Premier League
Newcastle United v Chelsea - Premier League

Youri Tielemans has been a standout for Leicester this season in midfield and is also their second top scorer in the league. If he wants to help Leicester in this game, he needs to come up against Chelsea's second top scorer... wait what?

Ben Chilwell in 21/22:3 Goals ⚽Reece James in 21/22:4 Goals ⚽Are the Chelsea duo must-haves for #FPL GW12? 🔥𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝑺𝒄𝒐𝒖𝒕'𝒔 panel of experts certainly think so: ➡️ preml.ge/hdz48a https://t.co/pZy9hqFw9v

Ben Chillwell has done more than enough to justify getting into the team ahead of Marcus Alonso even in terms of offensive capability. That says everything you need to know. He is involved in attacking play, paired with Reece James on the other wing.

This means there is just as much scope for Tielemans to exploit the space.

4 - Four of Youri Tielemans' nine goals for Leicester City in all competitions in 2021 have come from outside the box. No Premier League player has scored more goals from outside the box in this time. Thunderous. https://t.co/e3NwbIiHrC

But Chillwell is no slouch in defense. The main reason Tuchel prefers him over Alonso is that he brings more to the team defensively, and has 2.8 clearances per game.

But he also commits the most fouls for Chelsea defensively. That is something Leicester can exploit with their nifty players in the box.

Edited by Aditya Singh

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